** BEATTY BIRTHDAY REDUX. I had a long talk this afternoon with New York-based Warren Beatty biographer Peter Biskind, on the occasion of the longtime movie star/director/writer/producer/politico’s 70th birthday. We agreed that Beatty, who still looks great, turning 70 means that none of us — meaning me — are 24 anymore. Biskind is one of the top film writers in the world, having been, among other things, editor of Premiere magazine when that was the key movie magazine, and is the author of the seminal book on the “New Hollywood” cinema of the 1970s — which Beatty’s classic Bonnie & Clyde did much to usher into being back in 1967 — “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.” He is the main movie writer for Vanity Fair. His biography of the elusive Beatty, the only Golden Globe winner in each of the past five decades, will be done, ah, sometime in this decade. Incidentally, Jack Nicholson, Beatty’s longtime pal and running mate, turns 70 next month.
So influential was the rather anti-heroic New Hollywood approach to cinema in its time that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, then an immigrant bodybuilder trying to break into Hollywood, aspired for a long period of time to being a serious dramatic actor, in the vein of Dustin Hoffman. Picture that. He became friendly with Beatty, who was a role model for Schwarzenegger in terms of controlling a Hollywood career, and Nicholson, who turned Schwarzenegger on to a famous acting coach and was instrumental in his being cast in his first real Hollywood picture, Stay Hungry, for which Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe as best newcomer. (Ironic, given Beatty and wife Annette Bening’s leading role in torpedoing Schwarzenegger’s ill-fated “Year of Reform” special election initiative agenda in 2005.) But that, as we say, is a story for another time. Beatty, incidentally, has known California First Lady Maria Shriver since she began talking. He was President John F. Kennedy’s personal choice to play him in PT-109 which, with typical yet ever courtly cheek, Beatty turned down.
** CALDERON ACKNOWLEDGES TROUBLE CHANGING CALIFORNIA TERM LIMITS. LA area state Senator Ron Calderon, chairman of the Senate Elections Committee and author of the law authorizing the new early California Presidential primary, acknowledges that it will be difficult to change the state’s term limits law. The law, narrowly passed in 1990, has become entrenched since then. It currently allows a total of 14 years in legislative service, a maximum of only six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate. An initiative backed by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez would drop the overall limit to 12 years, but allow all 12 years to be served in one house, grandfathering several current members, such as Senate leader Don Perata, into even longer terms. Calderon acknowledges that the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll released yesterday shows that it will be difficult to pass that initiative next year. He suggests that the current term limits law be challenged in court, by a termed out member of the Legislature. Actually, that already happened, several years ago. I don’t remember the year, but then state Assemblyman Tom Bates challenged the existing term limits law. He is now the mayor of Berkeley.
** FOX NEWS AND CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS TO HOST A SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. In addition to the debate with Democratic presidential candidates, set for September 23rd in Detroit, the Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News will hold a Republican presidential debate. The time and place are not yet set. The first Republican presidential debate will take place here in California, on May 3rd, at the Reagan Library, which is in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley.
** WEBB IN L.A. Virginia Senator Jim Webb, the former U.S. Navy secretary in the Reagan Administration whose victory in November gave the Democrats their narrow majority in the U.S. Senate, appears this Sunday at a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer. The place? Billionaire Ron Burkle’s LA estate, Green Acres, site of last Saturda night’s hugely successful fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. Boxer, whose seat is not up again until 2010, seems to be hearing the ever so light footsteps of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Webb, one of the most highly decorated Marine combat officers of the Vietnam War, delivered the memorable Democratic rebuttal to the State of the Union address in January and is a hot ticket around the country.
** WARREN BEATTY BIRTHDAY. Hard though it is to believe, old New West friend Warren Beatty is 70 today. There is far too much to say about this guy. So let us suffice by noting that he and wife Annette Bening are in a desert city which figures very prominently in our presidential politics now, founded by a character he memorably portrayed. The fun never sets, and the classic Beatles tunes roll all the time.
** SPRING BREAK! The California Legislature, having accomplished tremendous things — uh, like what? (Ed.) — is off on spring break for more than a week.
** BLAIR WON’T NEGOTIATE. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, nearing the end of a decade in the office, won’t negotiate with Iranian radicals over the release of the 15 British sailors and marines seized a week ago in the Persian Gulf after they inspected a merchant ship under the guidelines established by the UN Security Council. Iran reneged on an earlier commitment by its foreign minister to release the only woman among the 15 Brits seized by naval elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Instead, the Islamic republic released more showcase video of her, this time with her calling for American and British forces to leave Iraq. A sentimennt obviously written for her by her Iranian captors.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices have increased to the $66 to $68 per barrel range, spurred by the latest Iranian crisis.