Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award winner William Kennedy is a man with clout. He collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on the screenplay of his expensive -- some say $60 million -- "The Cotton Club" and has arranged to have the movie's premiere in his hometown of Albany, N.Y., Dec. 2, two weeks before it opens nationwide. Guests will pay $75 each to benefit Albany's Trinity Institution, a local social agency, and the McKinney Library, where Kennedy researched his historical book, "O Albany!"
Coppola is expected at the premiere, as is Diane Lane, who stars in the film. There is also the possibility that Mickey ("Pope of Greenwich Village") Rourke, from nearby Schenectady, might show up. He is not in "The Cotton Club." Kennedy said yesterday he was called in to work on the film when novelist Mario Puzo tried four film scripts and Coppola two without success. Kennedy said he and Coppola wrote about 40 versions of the final screenplay. Asked about his experiences with Hollywood, Kennedy said, "I tried very hard to get in and they didn't give me the time of day. When I didn't need their money anymore, they invited me in."