The trailer for "Moneyball," the Brad Pitt flick based on Michael Lewis's best-selling book of the same name, hit the Web this week, and it looks promising. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager who's credited with using sabermetrics - a stats-heavy approach to evaluating talent - to turn around the formerly moribund franchise. The movie is co-written by "Social Network" scribe Aaron Sorkin and stars the always entertaining Jonah Hill as a character based on former A's exec Paul DePodesta. (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman also show up as former A's manager Art Howe.) In the trailer, there's a scene shot at Fenway Park between Pitt and a character that vaguely resembles John Henry. Is it supposed to be him? Yes. In an email today, the Sox owner told us he's seen the movie and he is, in fact, in it. But - get this - he can't remember who plays him. "Forgot the name of the actor," Henry wrote. And darned if we know. The guy looks like a cross between John Heard, Ted Danson, and William Hurt, but it's none of them, and the Internet Movie Database is no help at all. Last fall, when the movie filmed at Fenway, we asked the Sox owner who he'd like to play him. His reply: Sam Shepard.
Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer was detained today in Amsterdam, though it's not clear why. Judging from a YouTube video of the arrest - see below - it appears the chanteuse may have been busted for staging an impromptu outdoor show. Following her release, Palmer, who's married to writer Neil Gaiman, talked about the incident on Twitter. "Dear Amsterdam, sorry I got arrested & the gig ended prematurely," she typed. "Took my belongings and put me in a holding jail cell, and after a while let me go with a fine. Still really unsettling. A bunch of fans held vigil outside the station and we all came to a salsa night to celebrate my freedom. My life is weird." The singer, who grew up in Lexington, is on a solo tour that stops tomorrow in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Dicky, Alice, and Micky
Alice Ward, mother of Lowell-bred boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, has died. We're told the matriarch played by Melissa Leo in "The Fighter" passed away early this morning at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, surrounded by her family. In failing health for some time, Ward had gone into cardiac arrest in January and stopped breathing for more than 30 minutes before doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital revived her. Her recovery amazed doctors and nurses. Ward, who also has seven daughters, managed Micky's career in his heyday, and comes across in "The Fighter" as a fierce, sometimes foul-mouthed defender. She was not happy with Leo's portrayal, but Academy Award voters were, and the actress won the Oscar for her performance.
Robert B. Parker is no longer with us, but his literary creations are. Parker's estate - his wife Joan and sons Dan and David - along with his publisher have chosen two writers to carry on Parker's celebrated "Spenser" and "Jesse Stone" series. Michael Brandman, a longtime friend and collaborator of the author's, will handle the "Jesse Stone" books, while Ace Atkins will tackle Spenser. Though well known to the folks at G.P. Putnam's Sons, both writers submitted sample pages to the publisher. "We're absolutely thrilled with the quality of their work," Joan Parker told us yesterday. She said she's known Brandman for many years, but only recently met Atkins. "Bob's nickname for many years was 'Ace' Parker, so when Putnam called and said they'd found a good potential partner and his name is Ace, I said, 'Really?'" Brandman's "Jesse Stone" title will be published this fall, and Atkins's take on Parker's long-running "Spenser" series starts in spring 2012. Parker died last year at the age of 77.
The elusive Whitey Bulger on Castle Island
There are already plenty of books about Whitey Bulger, but the shelf is about to get a little more crowded. Tom Foley, former head of Massachusetts State Police who spearheaded the probe that led to murder charges being filed against Bulger, has inked a deal to write an insider's account of the Boston gangster. The book, to be called "Betrayal," will trace Foley's 20-year pursuit of Bulger, and his discovery that the FBI not only protected the mobster but allowed him to build his criminal empire. The book, which Foley is writing with Cambridge author John Sedgwick, was sold to Touchstone after a bidding war among four prospective publishers. (We're told Foley's advance is north of $250,000.) Reached yesterday in Florida, the retired top cop said he's writing the book to "set the record straight." While there is no shortage of books, at least a few of them don't get the story right, he said. "This will be the real true story of what went on, and there's nobody who can tell that story like I can," said Foley. Of course, that hasn't stopped others from trying. There's "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob" by Dick Lehr and Gerry O'Neill; "Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob" by former Winter Hill henchman Kevin Weeks; "Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob" by Edward MacKenzie Jr.; Howie Carr's "The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century"; and Carr's latest "Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano." (We're not sure what's "untold" since Martorano has talked to anyone who'll listen, including "60 Minutes.") Foley said he'll be focusing on the FBI's (mis)handling of Bulger because that's what the publisher wants. "When I said this would be about what (investigators) ran into on a daily basis from the government, they jumped all over it," he said. "We're going to tell the whole thing, including the good bad guys and the bad good guys." There's no timetable for the book, but Foley told us it'll be done within a year.
BC English professor Paul Mariani had no idea who James Franco was when he was told the actor wanted to make a biopic of poet Hart Crane that would be based on Mariani's 1999 book, "The Broken Tower: The Life of Hart Crane." "He's 32 and I'm 71," said Mariani, referring to the actor. But once he realized Franco was serious about directing and starring in a film about the troubled writer, Mariani familiarized himself with the actor's work and was pleasantly surprised with his range. Sure, Franco starred in the stoner comedy "Pineapple Express," but he also portrayed Allen Ginsberg in "Howl" and received an Oscar nomination for his role in "127 Hours," which he prepared for by reading Proust. Said Mariani: "The guy is really the real thing." The two wound up developing a friendship that led to "The Broken Tower," a soon-to-be-released film that Franco is screening at BC's Robsham Theater Arts Center Friday. Mariani helped Franco with his research by taking the actor on a tour of Crane's New York neighborhood and answering questions about the poetry scene of the 1920s. "Sometimes I wouldn't hear from him for weeks. Then I'd get bombarded with 20 emails." Mariani also pitched in by joining the cast. The movie, which co-stars Michael Shannon, features Mariani as photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
Actor Nicolas Cage has finally found a buyer for his behemoth abode in Rhode Island, but the "Leaving Las Vegas" star isn't getting his asking price. Cage, who bought the mansion not far from Newport in 2007, originally put the place on the market for $15.9 million, but in the end accepted just $6.2 million. The buyers are Andrew and Pamela Constantine of Sandwich. "Our interest is solely in restorative work, in bringning it back to what it was," Andrew Constantine told us today. (His property management firm, City Suites Boston, is based in the North End.) Cage bought the estate known as Gray Craig for $15.7 million. The 24,000-square-foot stone house, located near Sachuest Beach in Middletown, has 12 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, ocean views, a tennis court, gym, and a pool. "We'd seen it back in 1986, but missed out," said Constantine, who didn't meet Cage during negotiations, dealing instead with the actor's reps. "When it became available again, we decided to pursue it." Cage is unloading the house because he has to. The Internal Revenue Service has said the actor owes millions in back taxes, which Cage blames on bad business decisions and sketchy financial advice. Here's a little video about the home:
Sarah Jessica Parker filming at Faneuil Hall today (Jay Connor photos)
Why do movie stars stay in shape? Because their jobs can be demanding. Just ask Sarah Jessica Parker, who was running around Faneuil Hall Marketplace today shooting a scene for "I Don't Know How She Does It." And we don't know how she does it - running on those paving stones in high heels. The comedy, about a female executive who financially supports her husband, is filming for a few days in Boston. At Faneuil Hall today, director Douglas McGrath shot a holiday scene with fake snow and Santa Claus. (If McGrath really wanted snow, he should have been here a month ago.) In the scene, Parker gave a donation to Salvation Army and then raced down the street to tray to hail a cab. Passers-by watched as the "Sex and the City" star ran past several shops, including Ann Taylor, Coach, Salty Dog, and Boston Pewter. There was no sign yesterday of Parker's costar Christina Hendricks, who filmed a scene the day before at Post Office Square.
Massachusetts native and "Mad Men" star John Slattery is hilarious as a secret service agent in the new video for The National's song "Conversation 16." In the video, Slattery's object of affection is a commander-in-chief played by "Flight of the Chonchords" comedian Kristen Schaal. Schaal, for those who forgot, had a tiny part on "Mad Men" in 2007. Slattery, of course, can be seen now in "The Adjustment Bureau" with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.
Longmeadow lass - and Tom Brady's ex - Bridget Moynahan brought her main squeeze, director Joseph McGinty Nichol -- better known to McG -- to the premiere of "Battle: Los Angeles" in LA on Tuesday night.
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