The junger brother

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — David Hyde Pierce is already thinking post- “Frasier”, even though the popular TV show, in which he plays the title character’s snobbish psychiatrist brother Niles, has just been renewed for another three seasons. After long and at times painful negotiations, Paramount, the studio that produces “Frasier”, reached an agreement with NBC earlier this month to keep the hit series on the network.

But the new contract is no reason for Pierce to stop exploring other artistic opportunities — in fact, since he had a “blast“ in a two-week run of the musical “The Boys from Syracuse” in LA a year and a half ago, he has decided to look seriously into musical theatre as his next potential career move…

Must be talking to an Anjel

Anjelica Huston has already come to terms with the fact that her first half-century will soon be behind her, but the prospect of joining the ranks of Hollywood’s much-pitied unemployed middle-aged actresses has yet to make her list of immediate concerns. With three films scheduled for release this year, another one having just started production and a script she’s writing to direct, Huston is now busier than she was in her early thirties.

She claims that one can “always find jobs” in show business, or “create jobs if one can’t find them”, although she says that her turning to writing and directing “certainly wasn’t as a result of not getting any work”.

“Most young actors aren’t being offered parts, either, so what’s the point of harping on a negative when you can create something?” she demands. “Go to a class, learn to dance, do something with your life but don’t sit complaining about what you haven’t got. I don’t have $100m — it’s too bad. But I can go and figure something that will get me my next $10m”…

Natural-born misfit

Milos Forman has never rebelled against his films being labelled “quintessentially American” — he is just not a revolutionary type, he says — but the Czech-born director passionately dismisses such categorisation every time he is asked about it.

“For me, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is a Czech film, because when you are young in a communist country, all you dream about is breaking free,” he says of his 1975 film set in a psychiatric hospital, which earned him his first Oscar and established him as one of the world’s most prominent film-makers.

“Hair” (1979), another Forman movie now considered a classic, “was about young people rising up against the status quo — something we all dreamt about under communism but didn’t dare to do,” says the 70-year-old director…

Washington flair ensemble

Denzel Washington can easily make you believe that you know him. He skilfully uses the familiarity audiences feel with a screen star they have watched for years, and adds to it the casual manner of your neighbour or basketball team-mate.

Truth be told, once he could indeed have lived next-door — back in his youth when alcohol seemed the best medicine for confusion and despair. But now he is one of the most respected and bankable actors of his generation, who has proved that being black in Hollywood is not a casting risk and whose skin colour has become completely irrelevant in his work.

The 47-year-old actor says he will always cherish the roles of black men he has played, such as a runaway slave in the civil war epic “Glory” (1989), a South African activist in “Cry Freedom” (1987) and a controversial Muslim leader in “Malcolm X” (1992)…

Down so long, it looks like up

Peter Bogdanovich is finally “up” again, but the warm reception his new film, “The Cat’s Meow”, has been getting is “strangely terrifying” to him. His first major movie, “The Last Picture Show”, which he made in 1971 when aged 32, was called the best work by a young American director since Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane”. After two more hits, however, his career nosedived.

“I’ve been down so long, it looks like up to me,” he says of the renewed interest in his work, although it couldn’t compare to the success he had 30 years ago. “It’s been a long time since I had a picture that the public liked, the critics tolerated, the studio backed and I thought it was the way I wanted it. That confluence of things doesn’t happen very often”…

Wherever I lay my hat

Robert Altman spent three decades after his first hit film, the 1970 war satire “M*A*S*H”, telling the US what was wrong with it. Whether it was the unlikely mixture of country music and politics in “Nashville”, the scathing view of Hollywood in “The Player” or the suburban epic “Short Cuts”, American audiences reluctantly recognised the merits of Altman’s films but rarely gave him wholehearted approval at the box office.

Europeans loved the maverick director’s take on just about all things American, partly because his shrewd observations reflected their own perceptions of the superpower’s arrogance and greed. In fact, Altman’s name today stands next to Bergman’s, Fellini’s and Truffaut’s much more naturally than beside Coppola’s, Scorsese’s or Spielberg’s…