50 Doses of Hollywood Dish

It's reassuring to know that celebrities are capable of short bursts of civility when they're in the spotlight. But it's more fun when they can't manage even that.

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OF ALL THE REPREHENSIBLE HOLLYWOOD HABITS OF TODAY, surely the most dispiriting is the practice of being officially "nice." Yes, far be it from the politically correct sobersides of contemporary showbiz to ever be caught publicly uttering anything less than complimentary about their esteemed coworkers. What does it matter that Hollywood is the planets most back-stabbing, double-dealing, throat-cutting, ego-slashing industry, an environment in which people have been saying and doing vile things to each other since D.W. Griffith helmed Intolerance? Just so long as everybody has happy thoughts about everybody else when tape is rolling. Well, in this bland era of toothless celebrity sound bites, here is our salute to those brave few who have, over the decades, shown the guts, the recklessness, the immodesty, the style to dish their colleagues on the record the way they do in private. To each of our mouthy stars we've awarded points in two categories--the first for depth of dish and the second for way with words. Alrighty, then. Let's dish.

1. Ave Maria

Ava Gardner, Tinseltown's reigning love goddess from the late '40s through the early '50s, made head-lines and set an Industry standard for dish in 1966 when, as the veteran of a rocky marriage to Frank Sinatra, she was asked by the press what she thought of Sinatra's marrying waif-like rising star Mia Farrow. "Ha!" she exclaimed. "I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a little boy." Thank you, Ava, (10, 10)

2. Lips Lopez

Those who mourn the death of con-temporary Hollywood-on-Hollywood verbal vandalism idolize Jennifer Lopez as the mouth that roared. In 1998, Lopez had demonstrated chat, in terms of talent, she was the real thing, but she knew she was underrated. Since she had just finished shooting Out of Sight (in which she was sensational), what bet-ter time to openly assess her competition? So she told Movieline what she really thought about Gwyneth Paltrow: "I swear to God, I don't remember anything she was in. Some people get hot by association. I heard more about her and Brad Pitt than I ever heard about her work." And Madonna: "Do I think she's a great performer? Yes. Do I think she's a great actress? No." And Winona Ryder: "In Hollywood, she's revered, she gets nominated for Oscars, but I've never heard anyone in the public or among my friends say, 'Oh, I love her.'" And Salma Hayek: "It makes me laugh when she says she got offered Selena, which was an outright lie. If that's what she does to get her-self publicity, then that's her thing," And Cameron Diaz: "A lucky model who's been given a lot of opportunities I just wish she would have done more with." In the same spirit of candor, Lopez also leveled one at her Money Train costar Wesley Snipes, who, she said, had hit on her incessantly and didn't appreciate rejection: "He wouldn't talk to me for two months, I was like, 'What an asshole' Actors are used to getting their way and to treating women tike objects." Brava, Jennifer, even if you went around telling people you were quoted out of context (hey, we've got the tape). (10, 9)

3. More Latina Than Usted

Salma Hayek protested to a journalist for Britain's The Sunday Times that she'd actually been defending another highly quotable actress when she said in an earlier inter-view, "People say 'Latino' like we're all identical, but Jennifer Lopez is American. She's from New York. She doesn't have an accent, some of these Latin people--their Spanish is pathetic. They learned it when they became famous as Latinos." (10, 9)

4. Fisher King

Onetime superstar Eddie Fisher recently published his autobiography, Been There, Done That, in which he describes his life with Debbie Reynolds as "a sham for the media," and disses his ex-wife: "Debbie's whole life has been an act." Of another ex-wife, Elizabeth Taylor, he says, "She had the face of an angel and the morals of a truck driver." And, assessing the gray matter of yet another ex-wife, Connie Stevens, he relates, "I remember walking into the kitchen one afternoon while she was having a conversation with her best friend about religion and I said something about Jesus Christ. 'Eddie, that's not fair,' Connie complained. 'You read books.'" (10, 9)

5. Power Play

After making The Eddy Duchin Story with screen goddess Kim Novak, Tyrone Power spouted to gossip columnist Louella Parsons, "Confusion between temperament and bad manners is unfortunate. She made my life hell. She was often late, inevitably rude and incredibly cold." He later told the London Daily Express, "the film industry is divided between the professionals and the amateurs. So far, Kim Novak is the latter... at least on my film," specifically pointing out that she was "a bitch and a spoiled brat." (9, 9)

6. Not So Silent

Mabel Normand, one of the silent era's most popular comediennes, was a party girl and entirely the opposite of "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford, the box-office queen. Setting an early high-water mark for Hollywood broadsides, she told an interviewer in the early '20s, "Say anything you like, but don't say that I 'like' to work. That sounds like Mary Pickford, that prissy bitch. Just say I like to pinch babies and twist their legs. And get drunk." (10, 10)

7. Pacino Punches

Al Pacino mostly sticks to talking about his craft these days, but back in 1980 when he was reminded by a Playboy interviewer what The New Yorker critic Pauline Kael had written in her Serpico review--that she couldn't distinguish Pacino from Dustin Hoffman--he fired back, "Is that after she had the shot glass removed from her throat?" Bashing critics isn't nearly as admirable as sticking it to colleagues, but kudos anyway, Al. (9, 10)

8. A Spoonful of Sugar...

For another slap at the press, try habitually sugary Julie Andrews's uncharacteristic and now-famous comment about one of Hollywood's reigning gossip columnists in the 70s, Joyce Haber: "She needs open-heart surgery and they should go in through her feet." (10, 10)

9. Sugar and ...

Julie Andrews herself was often the object of scorn for her saccharine screen persona. Her leading man in The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer, dealt her an unsportsmanlike blow when he told an inter-viewer, "Working with her is like being hit over the head with a Valentine's card." (8, 8)

10. Simply Sharon

Sharon Stone has given lively inter-views For years, but few people realize that even before she was famous enough to weather retribution she was commendably dishy. Before Basic Instinct hit screens, she reminisced for Movieline about her Total Recall sparring partner, Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Someone said one day, 'You know, Arnold doesn't like you,' After thinking about that, I called this person and said, 'Did any-body bother to wonder if I liked Arnold? Or does only his opinion count because he's a big star?'" (9, 9)

11. Stoned Again

Sharon Stone proved she'd lost none of her spark when, before the picture was released, she said of her Sliver costar Billy Baldwin: "I mean, Billy's 29 and he seems so young. I like most people I've worked with in the business. My vote's out on Billy. I never really quite got his trip." (9, 9)

12. Bullitt Head

Studio executives routinely see appalling star behavior, but are subject to the same code of niceness as the stars themselves, so when one of them speaks pointedly of star behavior, it's notable. Sony Pictures chief John Calley, who had tangled with notoriously difficult superstar Steve McQueen in his days at Warner Bros., told The New Yorker in 1994 that the actor "was a nightmare. He got paid more than any-body in those days, but when you made a deal with him, his attitude was that what you were really doing was renting his nude, filthy, unshaven body for however long the filming was going to last... If you wanted him clothed, you had to buy him clothes. So you would get these bills--40 pairs of Levi's, 300 sweaters, underwear, socks, shoes, the whole works." (8, 8)

13. Knock Wood

Tough guy Steve McQueen was as blunt as he was rude. Of Natalie Wood, his Love with the Proper Stranger leading lady, he said, "I never saw what was so great about Natalie. She was short and lousy in bed." (8, 8)

14. Party Pooper

With an admirable lack of respect for a fellow actor, Robert Mitchum said, "A Steve McQueen performance just naturally lends itself to monotony. Steve doesn't bring much to the party." (8, 8)

15. Poison Penn

Master thespian Sean Penn had been friends with Nicolas Cage for years--they made Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Racing With the Moon together in the '80s--when he talked to Newsweek last December about being "appalled when talented actors debase them-selves" and "shit on their profession all the time." Clearly offended by the many eight-digit payoffs Oscar-winner Cage was collecting for his action films, Penn also told The New York Times, "Nic Cage is not an actor. He could be again but now he's more like ... a performer." (New York Post's columnist Richard Johnson reported Cage's response: "I was particularly upset because the day before he made his hurtful remarks, Sean visited me and my wife [Patricia Arquette] on the set of our new movie... He pretended to be our best friend. We all went out for drinks and supper and he kept calling us his family and then the next day he stabs me in the back.") (10, 7)

16. Dancing With Kevin

For a more recent incident of executive dish, consider what Universal cochairman Stacey Snider said to the Los Angeles Times after Kevin Costner told Newsweek that the studio executives had pandered to the "biggest common denominator" by toning down For Love of the Game to get a PG-13 rating: "Kevin's not the director and it's not fair for him to hijack a $50 million asset. Our feeling is that we have backed the filmmaker and his name is Sam Raimi, not Kevin Costner." Score: (8, 8)

17. Kevin's Lack

In her behind-the-scenes documentary Truth or Dare, Madonna dismissed an A-list star in a nutshell as follows: "Kevin Costner has personality minus." (9, 9)

18. Dangerous When Wet

In her recent autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, Esther Williams pulls out all stops to recount the affair she had with Jeff Chandler while they made Raw Wind in Eden in the late '50s. At the time, she was a bathing beauty, he was a ruggedly sexy Oscar nominee, and both were going through divorces. The affair got so serious, the two lovers contemplated marriage. But before taking that step, Chandler decided to reveal a hidden side of his character to Williams: he presented himself to her in full drag. Williams records her final retort to Chandler as she eased out of his life: "Jeff, you're too big for polka dots!" (10, 10)

19. Good Time Charlie

When the irrepressible Charlie Sheen assessed the new breed of actors in town in 1994, he exceeded even his own dish standards. He told_ Movieline_, "Oh, and Leon (sic) DiCaprio with his Oscar nomination and all his fucking James Dean bull-shit? Shit, some of these punks got no fucking respect," and went on to say, "I mean, how does fucking Francis Ford Coppola, one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, see Keanu Reeves's work, see what we've all seen, and say,' That's what I want in my movie'? 'How does Bertolucci see that and say, 'That's my guy'? Emilio [Estevez] and I sit around and just scratch our flicking heads, think-ing, 'How did this guy get in?' I mean, what the fuck?" And he achieved true eloquence on the subject of Kristy Swanson, his costar in The Chase. "If ever a thought went through that airhead of hers, it would perish from loneliness." (10, 8)

20. The Contender

In a 1978 Playboy interview, Marlon Brando, having just made Apocalypse Now, in which he would appear on-screen at a shockingly high weight, dismissed a fellow American legend as follows: "Elvis Presley--bloated, over the hill, adolescent entertainer--had nothing to do with excellence, just myth. It's convenient for people to believe something is wonderful." (8, 8)

21. The Horror

In a 1995 Playboy interview, Harvey Keitel described what it was like to have Francis Ford Coppola yank him out of the lead role (in favor of Martin Sheen) in Apocalypse Now: "It was a matter of a young actor who was an ex-Marine out of Brooklyn meeting with a talented director who was out of UCLA and some fraternity, I don't think we communicated well." (8, 7)

22. Young and Foolish

Nobody exactly knows what sparks flew between beautiful rising star Sean Young and volatile actor James Woods around the time they were shooting The Boost, but whatever went down between them, Woods and his then-fiancée Sarah Owen filed a 1988 civil suit charging Young with very weird, stalker-style behavior. In a 1990 interview with Movieline after the brouhaha had apparently been settled out of court, Young called Woods "a criminal" and "an extortionist," someone "who couldn't have a consistent relation-ship with a doorknob," then went on to remark, "God would have been merciful if he had given him a little teeny penis so that he could get on with his life." On a roll, the actress also described Kevin Costner, her No Way Out costar, as "an excellent businessman, an average actor, very good at work-ing the camera. She zinged Warren Beatty as "impossibly self-centered, more vain than any woman I've ever met, and obsessed with sex, his penis and conquering women," and explained that director Beatty fired her after seven days' shooting on Dick Tracy because she "made him look too old and didn't respond to his end-less hitting on me." (10, 10)

23. The Warren Report

In her autobiography, '60s sex kit-ten/bad girl Mamie Van Doren described past-lover Warren Beatty as "the kind of man who will end up dying in his own arms." (10, 10)

24. Shore Leave

During a short-lived burst of fame back in 1994, Pauly Shore commented in print on his pal Charlie Sheen's relationship with porn star Ginger Lynn: "The reason Charlie Sheen liked going out with Ginger Lynn was because it was like dating himself: trash. He's trash." As a saving grace, Shore, who also dated porn stars, added, "I'm trash." (10, 10)

25. Adieu, Audrey

Hefty Hollywood legend Orson Welles proved he was willing to say anything when he declared, "Audrey Hepburn is the patron saint of anorexics." (10, 10)

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