"Today, there is Julia Roberts. She is quite capable, very funny. I loved her instantly in 'Pretty Woman.' But no actress should be expected to be Audrey Hepburn. That dress by Mr. Givenchy has already been filled."
So says Hollywood's legendary director Billy Wilder to Cameron Crowe, in Vanity Fair's October excerpt from Crowe's book "Conversations With Wilder." Wilder ruminates on all the greats he has worked with -- Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon, Barbara Stanwyck, Gloria Swanson, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Holden, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur. Wilder remembers Arthur gave him a rather hard time when they filmed "A Foreign Affair" and declined to see the film after Wilder had edited it. But then, some four decades later, Arthur calls him from her home in Carmel (Calif.) and says, "I saw the picture." Wilder says, "What picture?" "You know, the one where I'm the congresswoman. Somebody showed it to me and it's wonderful. I'm so sorry I put you through all those things."
Wilder concludes, with a laugh, "Two years later, she died -- because she was nice to me."
As Crowe accurately sums it up, "Wilder's lack of sentimentality has left him forever relevant as an artist."
The divine Queen Latifah will launch her coming syndicated talk show, following the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, at the Key Club in Manhattan. The fab event will feature Faith Evans performing and music expertly mixed by DJ Mark Ronson. Latifah's bash will be broadcast live at Skybar in L.A. and Liquid in Miami Beach. The party is sponsored by Ford, which is promoting its new Ford Focus car. All the invites contain a key, one of which fits the lock of a new Ford Focus. Great. But just being in the presence of Latifah should be enough for most people, I think.
The Queen's new show premieres Sept. 20. The chat circuit is overcrowded to the max, a glut of talking heads. But Queen Latifah, like our friend Roseanne, might prove to be something special and different. She has certainly proved to be both on CD and on her TV sitcom, "Living Single."
Casting notes: Ben Stiller has been tapped to star in the Universal-DreamWorks comedy "Meet the Parents," co-starring Robert De Niro. The movie -- about a young man's disastrous introduction to his fiancee's family -- gets under way next month. De Niro plays Stiller's fearsome future father-in-law. Jay Roach, of both "Austin Powers" blockbusters, directs.