Blame it on Johnny Depp. Blame it on Neil Young. But whatever you do, if you’re an independent film maker and you’re not happy with the way your movie went over, don’t blame it on New York’s own movie moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein. You can be sure they won’t sit still for it. The Miramax bosses couldn’t have been happy after director Jim Jarmusch trashed the company at the N. Y. Film Critics Circle Awards Sunday night as Paul Newman, Courtney Love, Oliver Stone and Harry Belafonte looked on. It all started when Bob Campbell, the Newhouse papers critic, blew a poison dart at Fine Line, the movie company that distributed the art-house hit “Shine,”the true story of an unstable piano prodigy who often wears nothing under his London Fog. “Fine Line has finally figured out how to get a hit. If Miramax had distributed this film, the whole country would be walking around naked in raincoats.
“Jarmusch, the Mr. Softee-haired director of “Stranger Than Paradise”and “Down by Law,”stepped up to the podium and said, “Actually, I think Fine Line did a great job compared to what Miramax did with my movie Dead Man.
‘They showed it in more press screenings than theaters.
“Ouch. Even the critics shuddered. “Wow,”said Albert (“Mother”) Brooks. “It is my fondest hope that Jim Jarmusch wins an Academy Award just so we can hear that speech.
“Miramax was quick to react. “Jim has amnesia,”sniped a Miramax source. Last May the distributor released “Dead Man,”a film starring Depp, in 50 cities, just as it did “Emma,”sources said. But Depp and composer Neil Young wouldn’t take the time to promote it, the company insisted. Meanwhile, “Emma”star Gwyneth Paltrow posed on every magazine cover she could, and her movie earned millions more. The rest of the five-hour-long night went a bit more affably: George Plimpton, in presenting the award for best nonfiction film to “When We Were Kings,”about the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle”in Zaire in 1974, revealed that Ali consulted President Mobuto’s witch doctor before the fight. The shaman advised Ali to have the “woman with trembling fingers”walk past Foreman to cast bad luck. Ali won the fight. When Campbell Scott won the best first film award with Stanley Tucci for “Big Night,”their movie about a perfectionist Italian chef, he said he knew nothing about fine dining. Scott, the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, said, “I grew up in a household where a nine-course meal was a carton of Virginia Slims.
“Courtney Love, who won best supporting actress for “The People vs. Larry Flynt,”told the critics, “I know some of you think I’m not an actress. But I’ve been playing a sort of cultural Ophelia for some time.
“Harry Belafonte, who won best supporting actor for his role in “Kansas City,”said, “The true depth of black culture has not been seen on film, ever.
“The graying actor and singer noted how difficult it was for blacks in Hollywood in his generation, and that it was hard to watch acting-school classmates like Rod Steiger and Tony Franciosa snag roles. Best moment of the night: Paul Newman, in the near-empty room before the festivities began, chivalrously standing up when his wife of 39 years, Joanne Woodward, arrived at his side. Wow. DIGGING DEEP Gardening-mad millionaire Stewart Mott may have to cut back on his mulch. State Supreme Court Judge Fern Fisher-Brandveen just ordered the General Motors heir to hand over $15,000 a month support to ex-wife Kappy Jo Wells and their 8-year-old. Wells had earned just over that amount in a whole year as a sculptor, she told the judge, who was annoyed that Mott, 58, refused to say what his income is. It is, perhaps, too large to estimate. DEEP DEPP No wonder Johnny Depp didn’t want to promote someone else’s film: He’s directing one of his own. The gorgeous grunge-boy will direct Marlon Brando in “The Brave,”about, unfortunately, snuff films. Depp still is unable to watch 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”because he was getting high at the time, he says in next month’s Vanity Fair. “It was a pretty dark time for me,”he tells Kevin Sessums. “I don’t know what was going on. Well, I was poisoning myself beyond belief... There was a lot of liquor. A lot of liquor ... Getting high is about f-ing trying to numb something.
“Depp is better now, having renovated a $3 million mansion in the Hollywood Hills to house his collection of bugs, Jack Kerouac manuscripts, guns and girlfriend Kate Moss. ALIG’S AGONY Michael Alig has told his mother and friends that he intends to kill himself today if he is not removed from solitary confinement. The aging club kid has been charged with killing and dismembering Angel Melendez and tossing his body in the Hudson. Alig is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Alig’s mother, Elke Blair, wept to us that her son “is living like an animal. ... When my son was detoxing with shivers, inmates would pour ice water on him just to hear him scream.
“She also claims he has not been allowed to shower, has been beaten by Latino gang members (the man he allegedly killed was Latino) and has been generally mistreated by inmates and guards alike. Many of Alig’s friends, including Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musto, now fear an inevitable suicide. Prison officials denied Alig was mistreated.