King of all media: James Carville, the ubiquitous pundit, author and screen star (remember "The War Room" and "K Street"?), can lay claim to another title: movie mogul. He's the co-producer behind a remake of "All the King's Men," now filming in his beloved Louisiana.
"We've got the best cast of the century," Carville told us this week with typical understatement, ticking off the names: Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, James Gandolfini, Patricia Clarkson and Mark Ruffalo. "The story is just un-[bleeping]-believable. I think it's the best story ever told."
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He means the tale of assassinated Louisiana Gov. Huey "Kingfish" Long, upon whom novelist Robert Penn Warren loosely based his demagogic character Willie Stark (to be played by Penn). Warren's book won a Pulitzer, and the 1949 movie of the same name won the Best Picture Oscar. Captivated by the book, Carville got big-shot Hollywood producer Mike Medavoy -- "an old acquaintance from the Clinton wars" -- to sign on. The director is Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian, who also wrote the script.
Conceding that the "bar is really high" for a remake, Carville said, "We're not here to make a good movie: We want to do something better than that. . . . And it ain't like we don't have a good cast."
There will be no cameo appearance for Carville (remember "Old School"?), but he has executive co-producer credit because the movie "was my idea." He also gets to schmooze in New Orleans with the talent. "It's fun -- I get to hang out and go to dinner and pontificate." Which, as we know, is the Ragin' Cajun's greatest talent.
Bishop Jakes, Turning His Focus to Home
T.D. Jakes, the TV mega-preacher who whipped up a spiritual storm during a revival meeting this week in Upper Marlboro, is going through trying times. He talked to The Post's Hamil Harris about the two heart attacks his 25-year-old son, Jamar, suffered last month. Jakes canceled a sermon in Nigeria and rushed home to Dallas to help him recover: "Above everything we do in ministry, our first call is to our own family. My only wish was for my son to come home. He was all that I wanted for Christmas."
In recent weeks, the multimillionaire, self-ordained Bishop Jakes also has had to defend himself against continuing criticism that he focuses too much on marketing his products and not enough on social ills and civil rights. But Jakes makes no apologies for his opulent lifestyle, saying he supports "entrepreneurial pursuits in the community to build economic wealth. . . . I am trying to cover my end of the wall. I don't criticize civil rights leaders because they don't feed the homeless. In reality, none of us can do it all."
"Above everything we do in ministry, our first call is to our own family," says Bishop T.D. Jakes, who preached at a New Year's revival service on Monday.
(Hamil Harris - For The Washington Post)
A Tart Reaction At the Orange Bowl
This time, Ashlee Simpson could have used a backing track. The Reflux Gal's halftime screechfest -- excuse us, singing -- Tuesday night at the Orange Bowl was lustily booed by thousands of annoyed Trojan and Sooner fans. Simpson followed serviceable performances by former "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson and country star Trace Adkins with a glitch-filled, atonal version of her latest single, "La La."
No comment so far from the Simpson camp, but the public response was ruthless. As ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd put it yesterday morning, after replaying the end of her song and the chorus of boos: "Why does she keep getting shoved down our throats?"
Today marks George H.W. and Barbara Bush's diamond wedding anniversary -- that's the 60th for those keeping count. Their son Dubya and Laura Bush are throwing them a black-tie party at the White House with about 130 of their closest friends and family. We're told all the other Bush children -- Marvin, Neil, Doro, Jeb -- will be there too, along with some grandkids.
Barely three weeks into his new gig as CNN's president, Jonathan Klein stuck his foot in his mouth with a comment about the South Asian tsunami disaster. He boasted this week to USA Today that CNN was "able to flood the zone immediately." Yow! "The scary thing is," he confessed to us, "it's not even the dumbest thing I've ever said! . . . Fortunately CNN's actions in offering outstanding coverage of the story speak far louder than any words I use to describe it." Well, at least he's back on message.
Speaking of CNN, today is Tucker Carlson's last day at the network. The outgoing "Crossfire" co-host has been in talks with MSNBC. The show may eventually be folded into other programming, CNN officials say.
More celebs and sports figures are kicking in for tsunami relief: Steven Spielberg and his family donated $1.5 million to Save the Children, CARE and Oxfam. Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is giving $10 million to aid groups. Several NBA players, including Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant and Jermaine O'Neal, have promised to donate $1,000 for every point they score in games this week.
With Anne Schroeder