He can’t say ‘nay’ to her
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.
BEAUTY AND BEAST: Diane Lane stars in the film “Secretariat” about the Triple Crown winner. The movie opens Oct. 8.