He can’t say ‘nay’ to her

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - T.J. SIMERS t.j.simers@latimes.com

Ac­tress Diane Lane, star of the new film “Sec­re­tar­iat,” has T.J. Simers eat­ing out of her hand.

OK, so as dates go, it gets off to kind of a slow start.

I ar­rive Mon­day at Santa Anita fig­ur­ing

Diane Lane and I will have the place to our­selves, a race­track the one place in this coun­try nowa­days where you can go and be alone.

But there’s a crowd. She has some me­dia du­ties on be­half of the movie “Sec­re­tar­iat.” I’ve waited this long, so oh well.

The movie comes out Oct. 8, but I’ve al­ready seen it. The horse wins in the end and ev­ery­one seems very happy.

Don’t know what more needs to be said. But Diane joins the other stars from the movie, in­clud­ing John Malkovich, to tell ev­ery­one Sec­re­tar­iat also won the Triple Crown. All the re­porters write it down. They also of­fer the me­dia a chance to have a pic­ture taken with Sec­re­tar­iat. Why would any­one want to have their pic­ture taken with a dead horse?

“Horses are my totem an­i­mal,” Diane tells the gath­ered me­dia, and I make a note not to men­tion the pile of ashes that once was Barbaro un­til we know each other a lit­tle bet­ter.

I no­tice, though, she’s al­ready pretty chummy with Malkovich, who is wear­ing a blouse that you would ex­pect Diane to be wear­ing.

This makes what she has to say next very trou­bling: “Clothes make the man.” And that’s what I was think­ing while I stood in front of my ham­per an hour ear­lier.

What does one wear for a date with Diane Lane?

I pic­ture my­self as Richard Gere. That makes it a lot eas­ier. I know he has been in a lot of her movies, so she must like the way he looks.

When I get the chance, by the way, I sad­dle up to Malkovich to ask whether he’s in Sec­re­tar­iat cos­tume. Or, is this re­ally some­thing he might wear?

“This is from my fashion line,” he says, and I don’t re­call our say­ing much to each other af­ter that.

Diane, mean­while, is wear­ing a blue dress. I re­ally like it, but I don’t think it would fit the wife.

Diane and I sit to­gether, and pro­ducer Mark Ciardi joins us. He’s a for­mer big league pitcher who thinks now he might have to save Diane. He played for the Brew­ers. It is one month in his life he will never for­get.

I think it’s im­por­tant in ev­ery re­la­tion­ship to be hon­est, so I tell Diane right away, “I don’t care about your movie. What about mine?”

She’s such a good ac­tress, and so play­ful. She acts as if she has no idea what I am talk­ing about.

Ciardi tells her I was in “The Game Plan,” and says that as pro­ducer, “we tried to cut him out.”

“You tried to cut him out,” Diane replies, and she’s laugh­ing as if that’s funny. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a com­edy. Be­fore we go any fur­ther, I men­tion

Salma Hayek. “Fine with me,” Diane says. “I can share.” I thought the Dis­ney pub­li­cist stand­ing nearby was go­ing to faint.

I tell Diane it’s im­por­tant for me to get up close to her so I might see for my­self. I read where she was the 45th-most de­sir­able woman in ’05, 85th in ’06, 98th in ’07 and now off the charts. “You’re a num­bers man?” she says. “Stats,” I say. I saw what hap­pened to Manny. I ask about her slip­page. Is this the rea­son she took the part in a movie that goes back to ’73 — al­most ev­ery woman look­ing old at that time upon re­flec­tion.

“If I even grace that with a re­sponse I be­smirch my fam­ily’s good name,” she says. I’ve seen the movie and I know she has a tem­per.

“No, in a word,” she snaps, and for the first time the thought crosses my mind we might not get to­gether again.

“My fa­ther raised a son and I’m just clev­erly dis­guised as a woman,” she says. The things they can do in Hollywood.

“He used to say I’m just try­ing to make you tough and strong so you will han­dle your­self if some­one comes af­ter you,” she says, and I know what it’s like when Diane Lane looks di­rectly into your eyes. “He didn’t want me to be a pushover.

“Now I know I’m Burt Lane’s daugh­ter and I don’t have to worry about any­thing.”

Who knew Diane Lane would be tougher to back off the plate than Matt


She’s not dis­ap­pointed, she says, tak­ing sec­ond billing to a horse. “Not in the least,” she says. “I’m only dis­ap­pointed he’s not here to help me with the in­ter­view load.”

I know a few re­porters who would have tried talk­ing to him. Come to think of it, I’ve talked to a few mules in my time.

Now based on home­work, I knew she didn’t want to do an­other goody-two-shoes role, so I sug­gest she play

Ge­or­gia Fron­tiere. She says she has never heard of her. Never heard of

Jamie McCourt ei­ther. “The news makes me sweaty,” she says. Just imag­ine what it does to Frank when Jamie’s name is men­tioned on the news.

I tell her about Ge­or­gia. Seven hus­bands. For­mer cho­rus girl. Owner of the Rams. Two of her hus­bands killed — one sus­pi­ciously, one in her lap.

“You’ve got to write this screen­play,” she says.

She’s so cute. If she wanted to get to­gether again, all she had to do was say so.

John Bram­ley

BEAUTY AND BEAST: Diane Lane stars in the film “Sec­re­tar­iat” about the Triple Crown win­ner. The movie opens Oct. 8.

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