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Dominick Dunne on Hollywood

Aired December 22, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Dominick Dunne, the ultimate Hollywood insider with unforgetable stories of glitz and star-studded Oscar night parties where he hung out with everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Michael Jackson and Madonna, even sharing a table with Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. We'll weigh in on today's gold and glammer couples, too.
Dominick Dunne next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always fun to come to New York, especially to get a chance to spend some time actually with Dominick Dunne, special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" magazine, author of the afterward for the gorgeous new book, "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'," one of the best books about Hollywood ever put together.

He's, of course, Dominick, "New York Times" best-selling author, host of Court TV's "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice," a terrific show. By the way, the nominations for the 77th Academy Awards will be announced on January 25. The awards ceremony, now being held in February, not March any more, is Sunday, February 27.

Before we talk about this book and everything, what has the trial been like -- and this was taped, it may be over by the time but no decision will be rendered, the Eisner-Ovitz we're friends, not friends trial in Delaware?

DOMINICK DUNNE, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "VANITY FAIR": Larry, it's one of the most fascinating things. We're way out in the boondocks of Delaware, in this little place called Georgetown, one street town. And here are these two Titans, Ovitz, Michael Ovitz, and Michael Eisner, former best friends, now deep enemies.

And it's a trial about a $140 million termination payment and that the shareholders think was not proper. I tend to agree with that.

And it's a different kind of trial. There's no jury, no opening statement, no closing argument. It starts and it stops.

KING: And technically -- not technically. Eisenhower is -- Eisner is defending the payoff to Ovitz. So they're kind of not enemies in the trial.

DUNNE: In the trial, they're on the same side.

KING: Right.

DUNNE: But there's this -- and as if Roy Disney, who leads the insurgency to get rid of Michael Eisner as the CEO of Disney.

KING: But they showed the tape of Eisner and Ovitz on this program.

DUNNE: And you on your program. It is absolutely incredible.


KING: So, Michael Eisner, you would hire Michael Ovitz again today.

MICHAEL EISNER, CEO OF DISNEY: Yes. Are you offering him again?

KING: No. All thing being...

EISNER: Yes. The answer is, yes.

KING: I mean that would certainly clear up any rifts stories.

EISNER: By the way, there has not been one story where one person is quoted directly about any problems inside our company. It's just all baloney.


DUNNE: when they were at their worst with each other, and they're on this program saying how much they like each other.

KING: Like eachother.

Still love covering trials, right?

DUNNE: I do.

KING: Why?

DUNNE: I don't know why.

I just, you know, I get more out of it than -- than just what happens in the courtroom.

KING: Nothing more human than trials, right?

DUNNE: Nothing.

KING: We're all human.

And how's your health?

DUNNE: My health is good. My health is very good.

KING: Let's talk about Dominick Dunne and Hollywood. You went to your first Oscar party in 1955 at Romanoff's, right? That was before you moved to Hollywood.

DUNNE: Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: What took you to Hollywood?

DUNNE: What took me to Hollywood was that I went out to become the assistant to Martin Manulis, who was the producer of "Playhouse 90." And that took me there.

And then I went to Fox, where I was under contract as a television producer in their new television department. And it was at the time that Marilyn Monroe was the queen of the lot. And it was -- I saw the end of the studio system, Larry, and it was fabulous.

And -- and to be at Fox in those days with their bungalows, it was like -- it was like a magic time. And the -- the commissary at lunch just filled with movie stars. And -- and they had the contract players, who were all, you know, put together to go to the premieres and dressed and made up. I just loved being part of it.

KING: Were you star-struck?

DUNNE: Always. My whole life. I still am. Seventy-nine years old, I still love to look at movie stars.

KING: Still love Hollywood?

DUNNE: Yes, I do.

KING: Go there a lot?

DUNNE: I'm going out to do a couple of trials. I'm -- I want to get to the Robert Blake trial. I mean, it's already starting, and I'm -- it's overlapping with the Disney trial. But I'm going to go out for that, and I want -- I'm going out for the Phil Specter trial.

KING: The murder trial.


KING: All right. Nineteen-fifty-five, your first year out there, Grace Kelly wins the Best Actress, right? Did you attend the Academy Awards?

DUNNE: Yes. I was there.

And you know, I knew Grace from my -- I used to be in live TV in -- in New York. And -- and she was a young actress in -- that was before she was famous. And we'd rehearse -- it was on "The Robert Montgomery Show," where she was often, you know, a leading actress. But she wasn't famous yet.

And so she took me to my first premiere, and I was there on the night that she won the Academy Award.

KING: When did "Vanity Fair" the magazine get involved with the Oscars?

DUNNE: "Vanity Fair" got -- well, Swifty Lazar -- Irving Lazar...

KING: Famous agent.

DUNNE: Famous agent, now dead, had the great Oscar party in Hollywood for -- he had a monopoly on it.

KING: At Spago's, right?

DUNNE: At Spago's.

And then after he died, "Vanity Fair" moved in, and it was Grayden Carter's idea. And Grayden Carter wrote the introduction to this book. I love this book, by the way. It's a beautiful book.

KING: Now, it says 75 years of Hollywood parties, but "Vanity Fair" hasn't been doing it for 75 years?

DUNNE: No, no.

KING: They did it after Swifty, right?


KING: They sort of replaced Swifty. And they are now "the party?"

DUNNE: That's the party to be at.

KING: Yes, you've got to get to go to that party. Anything else is minor league.

DUNNE: Minor to this party.

KING: How did that happen? How did the Swifty Lazar party get to be the party?

DUNNE: Well, that party was the most important thing in his life. You know, he had always been, you know, part of the group with the Goldwins and the Getzes and the old, great Hollywood names. But he was kind of the -- Bogarts and everything. But he was kind of the one they all had jokes about and made fun of.

And then with this party, he came into his own.

KING: Now, this was for people who didn't go to the awards? Or you went to the awards and then you came to the party?

DUNNE: Both. Both.

KING: There's dinner at the party.


KING: It's "Vanity Fair" now. You can go to dinner -- I've been there. You can go to the awards.


KING: You watch it at the party.

DUNNE: Yes, yes. There's no point in going to -- to the awards unless you're involved, unless you're up for something.

KING: That's right. Or -- in fact, it's a long night if you're not up for something.

DUNNE: If you're not up for something. And you see it better, you know, on the -- at the party.

KING: Now what's the Governors Ball?

DUNNE: Well, that is like an obligation that the -- the governors of the Motion Picture Academy put on the ball, and Spago caters that. And -- but it's an obligatory thing for all the stars to drop in on, and then they come to our party.

KING: Honestly about you, when you were very successful you went to Swifty's party?

DUNNE: Oh, yes.

KING: And when there were down periods, you were not invited?


KING: That was an in party.

DUNNE: That was -- and let me tell you, I was a regular.

KING: Tell me.

DUNNE: And then I had a little downfall. I was...

KING: No table at the Vet (ph).

DUNNE: That's right. No room at the inn either.

And -- and I wasn't invited for six years. And then, you know, I changed my life, left Hollywood, and then I wrote -- became a writer. And my book, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" was this huge bestseller, success. I was right back on Swifty Lazar's list, and I went.

KING: Did you understand that?

DUNNE: Totally.

KING: Did you accept it?

DUNNE: Sure. I mean...

KING: When I'm down, I don't go; when I'm up, I go? DUNNE: That's the way it is.

KING: You didn't -- you didn't resent or get angry at Swifty?

DUNNE: No. Well, maybe I did.

KING: We'll be right back with Dominick Dunne. He's written the afterward for the book "75 Years of Hollywood Parties," "Oscar Night." "Vanity Fair." We'll be right back.


KING: We're talking Hollywood tonight with somebody who knows it so well, Dominick Dunne, special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" magazine.

You shared an Oscar party table once with Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, both have been guests on this show. What was that like?

DUNNE: Well, you know, in the first place, I mean, these are two of the great divas of their -- of their era. And I produced one of Elizabeth's movies, and I spent a year with her in Europe.

KING: Which one?

DUNNE: It's called "Ash Wednesday."

KING: I remember that movie.

DUNNE: And -- and -- yes.

KING: It was a good movie.

DUNNE: And I got to know her very well.

And Audrey Hepburn, I -- was a great friend of my wife's and things. So I knew both these -- both these ladies.

And -- and I was at the table with them at Swifty's party. And they hadn't seen each other in a long time. And they were both at the same table. I was sitting there.

And they -- and they came in, and they leaned across the table, you know, screaming how good it was to see -- you know, kiss, all that number.

And Elizabeth, you know, she had the big earrings. She had the big diamond necklace. She had the big ring, this big. And so Audrey Hepburn said to her, "Kenny Lane?" You know, Kenny Lane is the maker of great fake...

KING: Fake jewelry?

DUNNE: ...fake jewelry. And she said, "Kenny Lane?" She says, pointing to the -- to the earrings. And Elizabeth said, "No, Mike Todd."

And then Audrey pointed to this ring that was about this big, the crup (ph) diamond, you know. And she said, "Kenny Lane?"

And she said, "No, Richard Burton."

And then -- and then, anyway. And then they fell into each other's arms. It was a great moment.

KING: There's nothing like Hollywood stars on a big night.

DUNNE: Nothing. Nothing.

KING: You also were present when Madonna and Michael Jackson were at the 1991 Oscar party.

DUNNE: You know, that was amazing.

KING: Why?

DUNNE: Because, you know, most of the people at the Lazar party were older folks and so forth, and these two, they were young, gorgeous, and it was Michael before he became so odd. Still had his nose. And -- and he was in uniform, you know.

But Madonna, I'll never forget her. I mean, it was like what Jean Harlow must have been like back in the '30s. I mean, the white blonde hair and the silver fox and the diamonds and the thing.

They came in. They were so dazzling. And people like Jimmy Stewart, you know, one of the greats of all time in Hollywood, stood on a chair to get a better look at Madonna and Michael Jackson. I mean, that was the -- I mean, they caused such a commotion at that party.

KING: Stars can be affected, then, by other stars?

DUNNE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: So anyone can be star-struck?

DUNNE: I mean, this was the next generation coming along, you see?

KING: Right. Anyone can be star-struck.


KING: Jimmy Stewart guested with us on radio and television. You knew him pretty well.

DUNNE: Yes, I did.

KING: He was some kind of guy.

And he died kind of -- he was reclusive at the end, right?

DUNNE: Yes, yes, yes.

KING: Why?

DUNNE: Well, you see, Gloria, his wonderful wife. And it was a great marriage that Jimmy and Gloria Stewart had.

And after she died, you know, he kind of went into a...

KING: Funk.

DUNNE: Yes, he did.

KING: He was never the same, right?

DUNNE: Never.

KING: Sort of like Dean Martin when he lost his son.

DUNNE: Yes. Yes.

KING: Certain people become part of other people. It's like attached.

DUNNE: But you know, let me tell you something else about Jimmy Stewart. When -- you know, after our child was killed, my wife became the head of something called Parents of Murdered Children. And Jimmy Stewart and Robert Wagner came on the board of that. And every function there was, he was always there, Jimmy Stewart and Bob Wagner.

KING: What about the death of Swifty Lazar? They thought that would be the end of the party era, right?

DUNNE: Yes, yes. And I went to his funeral, which was held out there. And everybody -- everybody at the funeral was, like, "What do you think's going to happen to the party?" You know?

And -- and for awhile, you know, there was talk that the Marvin Davises were going to take it over, remember? And I don't know. Then Grayden Carter stepped into the -- it was just brilliant.

KING: And it was always at Morton's?

DUNNE: Yes. It was his idea. And -- and you know, we do up Morton's. It's different every year. It's wonderfully done.

KING: To his due credit, Swifty was a great agent.

DUNNE: A great agent.

KING: Book agent?

DUNNE: Great, great book agent. And he -- by the way, he didn't always read the books.

KING: I know.

DUNNE: His wife read the books and told him the story.

KING: What has been the biggest change in the party over the years?

DUNNE: What stays the same at Swifty's party and the "Vanity Fair" party...

KING: Well, what stays the same?

DUNNE: That they're both the hardest parties to get into.

KING: Are they?

DUNNE: You can't...

KING: Sneak in?

DUNNE: No. And you can't call and say...

KING: "Can I get in?"

DUNNE: Yes. Yes.

KING: You better have the right pass and the right look.

DUNNE: Yes. And -- and Swifty used to say to studio heads, "Listen, I never see you during the year. This is not an industry function. This is a private party. No, you can't come."

And he would never let people's bodyguards come in. They had to stand outside. And -- anyway.

KING: Does business get done at these parties?

DUNNE: Well, I don't think there's much business gets done at the Academy Award party, but I think business sure gets done at the -- at the other parties, the house -- in people's homes, yes.

KING: Were there people then who were famous just for being famous? As we have today, the celebrity culture? Or has this medium contributed to that?

DUNNE: Yes. Yes, I suppose. You know, I just -- I don't know. I -- I can't think of anyone who falls into that category.

KING: Most people then made a claim to fame.

DUNNE: Made a claim to fame, yes. Yes. I mean, yes.

I mean, at Swifty's party, and at -- and at almost all of the Oscar parties, those are people who have all done it, you know, have accomplished.

KING: Do you -- are you a fan to the point where you make picks? Do you get involved in who's going to win, who's going to lose?

DUNNE: Yes, well, I'm a member of the Academy, so I vote. And I take it real seriously, and I see all the movies. And...

KING: Oh, you do?

DUNNE: Yes, yes. Yes, I really do. I just love looking at movies.

KING: And when you go to the "Vanity Fair" party, another striking thing about it is the lineup of paparazzi, the way they have them outside.

DUNNE: Oh, boy.

KING: Geez. And "Vanity Fair's" own photographers are inside.

DUNNE: Yes. But I mean, that's like old time Hollywood. That's like what premieres used to be like, you know, when they're all lined up behind the -- behind the rope as they are at that party.

KING: I asked Robert Taylor once, "Do you miss the days of the big red carpet, and all that?"

He said, "You bet."

DUNNE: You bet.

KING: There you are. Fine. They had to be something.


KING: That glittering era, it's present at the "Vanity Fair" party, but it's not around anymore, is it?


KING: Too many independent filmmakers, films made everywhere.

We'll be right back with Dominick Dunne. The book is "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'." Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dominick Dunne. He's written the afterword for the new book, "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'." Terrific coffee table book, as they would call it.


KING: Certainly one of the best books ever done on...

DUNNE: It is.

KING: ... what Hollywood is and was. Is there more paparazzi now? There's certainly more tabloids.

DUNNE: Yes, and there's more paparazzi now. And I think that the paparazzi now are more invasive than they -- than they used to be.

But certainly, at that night, the Oscar night, it's a different night. Oscar night is a combination of New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July. Do you know what I mean? There's nothing like it. It's -- it's the -- it's the most famous night of the year in Hollywood.

And so if there's too many paparazzi, that's part of it.

KING: In fact, an actor who wouldn't like paparazzi following him around certainly accepts them on Oscar night.

DUNNE: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: It goes with the territory.

DUNNE: Yes, yes. That's part of it.

KING: All right. Pictures from the book that we'll be looking at and your thoughts on them. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

DUNNE: Well, I think Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are the hot couple of, you know, of Hollywood now. I mean, they're great looking. They just look like they love each other. And they -- they just have an excitement when you see them.

I mean, when they walked into our party at -- I mean, it's -- everybody reacts.

KING: Also, nice people.

DUNNE: Nice.

KING: Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood.

DUNNE: Well, they're great personal friends, and...

KING: Natalie was something, wasn't she? I knew her.

DUNNE: Natalie, she was just great. Just great. And you know, that was a real romance that they had. You know, they married; then they divorced. And then they -- they remarried. They had the daughters.

And anyway, it was a tragedy what happened to Natalie. Really sad.

KING: But R.J.'s happy now.


KING: With Jill.

DUNNE: Yes, yes, yes. KING: Is there a Winchell today, someone who can make you or break you?

DUNNE: No. And there -- I mean, there's nobody like, you know, when you think of Hedda Hopper or...

KING: Luella Parsons.

DUNNE: Luella Parsons. And then followed by Joyce Haber. And then -- there hasn't really been a person like that in Hollywood. You know, Luella Parsons and Hedda Hopper could make and break people.

KING: They could?

DUNNE: Yes. Do you remember what happened with Ingrid Bergman? I mean, when she had the illegitimate child, and they -- and Hedda was behind all that. Drove her out of Hollywood.

KING: You also, in your afterword, write of the Oscar party given by Joyce Haber when Bob Evans lost his Oscar to Francis Ford Coppola. What happened?

DUNNE: This was amazing. Joyce Haber was the gossip columnist who followed Hedda Hopper at the "Los Angeles Times." And she was a controversial lady. And she made up what some call the "A list" and the "B list" of Hollywood.

And she had -- she didn't like going to the -- to the awards themselves because she was given a bad seat one year. So she had the party at her house, and she had all the A group people at her house. And she was a great friend of Bob Evans, and he was up for "Chinatown," a truly great movie. And it was to be, like, a victory party for Bob Evans.

And Joyce, who was then married to Doug Cramer, the famous TV producer, they lived in a house that had been owned by Clifton Webb. Do you remember Clifton Webb?

KING: I do. Mr. Belvedere.

DUNNE: Mr. Belvedere. And at -- they had a painting by Cecil Beaton of Clifton Webb. And it's hanging in the room where they showed the movies and where this -- where this show was.

And Bob Evans, you know, was expected to win. "Chinatown" was expected to win. And Bob Evans said that Warren Beatty was the one announcing the Best Picture, and he opened the envelope. And he looked at Evans in the audience, and Evans said he knew immediately that he'd lost. And that was before he read it. And Francis Coppola got it instead for "The Godfather II."

KING: Now, this is funny. To think that "The Godfather II" was -- considered now one of the classic, great films of all time -- was considered the underdog...

DUNNE: That's right. KING: ... to "Chinatown."

DUNNE: That's right.

KING: So did Evans take it bad?

DUNNE: What happened -- the point of telling the story about the painting is that the painting -- everybody screamed that -- that "No!" because they wanted -- they were rooting for Bob Evans. And the painting of Clifton Webb fell off the wall.

And I was there and witnessed that. So -- and yes, it was very dispirited after that.

KING: Tell me, is Oscar for the best or for the best publicized?

DUNNE: Well, it's really supposed to be for the best. And sometimes the best publicized, I suppose, does win.

KING: Tell me how you view your own judging.

DUNNE: Sometimes I see the movies twice, because you know, we get all the -- the DVDs from the Academy. And, you know, and then -- I don't know, Larry. I just -- I don't vote because of who does the biggest ads. I...

KING: Or who does the most business?


KING: That shouldn't count, should it?

DUNNE: No, it shouldn't. It shouldn't. I mean, I think, like, a movie like "Vera Drake," which is probably not going to be a popular movie, but that's an extraordinary performance that Imelda Staunton gives in that. I'm certainly going to -- you know, if she's up for it, for Best Supporting, I think I'm going to vote for her.

KING: Now about Hollywood and minorities. With few exceptions, it's still a white industry, right?

DUNNE: Yes, yes.

KING: Denzel Washington, he won the Oscar first for "Glory."

DUNNE: Right. And he came to Swifty's party that night with his...

KING: What was that like?

DUNNE: ... with his family.

KING: Great guy.

DUNNE: Yes. Yes. And I remember that they sat by themselves in the middle of the room, and I don't know, I think it was Denzel's first night and time in that whole kind of milieu that Swifty was surrounded by.

And -- but, you know, he's a great actor. He's had a great career.

KING: Other minorities that we see in the book are Angela Bassett and Oprah Winfrey.


KING: Cuba Gooding Jr. with Tom Cruise.

DUNNE: That was wonderful. That whole thing with Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise's joy that Cuba won the -- won the -- that's a wonderful photograph.

KING: Why -- is that changing, the minority view in Hollywood, is that getting better?

DUNNE: Well, apparently. I don't know. You know, I'm no longer there, so...

KING: Are there any great black directors? Not many.


KING: Black producers?


KING: There was Poitier and Washington, Morgan Freeman, I guess.

Other pictures in the book, Rosalind Russell hugging Loretta Young.

DUNNE: Wonderful.

KING: Now there's a chapter out of Hollywood.

DUNNE: Absolutely. And those are the two great Catholic ladies, you know?

KING: Loretta died -- died going to mass.

DUNNE: That's right. And Ros was pretty good at going to mass, too. And you know, there used to be, in Beverly Hills in the -- the Church of the Good Shepherd on Little Santa Monica...

KING: Sinatra's funeral.

DUNNE: Yes, indeed. And at the 9:45 mass on Sunday were all the -- Loretta, Ros, Gary Cooper, Cesar Romero, all the -- they were all at that every Sunday. And they would pull up in their Rolls Royces or their Bentleys. And, you know, at one time Clark Gable -- I never knew Clark Gable, but he -- his wife, he married Kay Spreckels and they used to go there. And that was something else.

But that's just a wonderful picture of Ros and of Loretta.

KING: We'll be right back with Dominick Dunne. The book is from the editors of "Vanity Fair" magazine, and Dominick wrote the afterword. I'm going to ask him what an afterword is. Don't go away.


KING: Our guest is an old friend, a terrific writer, Dominick Dunne, special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" magazine, author of the afterword for the new book, "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'." He's a "New York Times" best selling author and is the host of Court TV's "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice." That show's been around a while now.

DUNNE: Yes. We just did a new one. Fabulous.


DUNNE: You know, I wrote the book, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," and it was based on the Woodward -- the famous Woodward shooting on Long Island in 1955.

KING: The horseman.

DUNNE: The horseman, married to the showgirl.

KING: Right.

DUNNE: And we'd just done the actual story, not the novelized version, and I shot it -- I shot the host part at the Woodward estate where the murder took place just last week.

KING: Is that eerie?

DUNNE: Yes. It was eerie. It was like I could feel Ann Woodward when I was there.

And I always had sympathy for Ann Woodward. You know, she shot him, and they were having marital problems and they're been to a party and they'd had a fight. And they were both drinking, and they each had a gun by their bed for some reason. I mean, trouble was bound to happen.

KING: Did she do time for that?

DUNNE: No, no. Oh, no. No, no, no. No. I mean, that's when...

KING: Excusable homicide?

DUNNE: Well, I mean, that's -- she went through, it was a grand jury, but her -- his family, Bill Woodward's family, who had hated her. It was the mother and the four -- and his four sisters, that hated her, stood behind her and saying it was an accident.

KING: What is an afterword? DUNNE: An afterword...

KING: An old foreword...

DUNNE: A rather unusual thing.

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: It's the opposite of a foreword.

KING: Now you've just read this. Here's what I think.

DUNNE: Grayden Carter wrote the foreword, and I -- I wrote the afterword. We've done this on two books now. We had another Hollywood book, too.

KING: What's an afterword?

DUNNE: It's...

KING: Just means summing up?

DUNNE: Summing up, yes.

KING: Another picture from the book, Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine.


KING: Not close as brother and sister.

DUNNE: No, but they look close in those pictures, don't they? They were having a good time together. And...

KING: Washington and Lee High School in Northern Virginia.

DUNNE: Yes, yes. And you know, Warren, Warren was...

KING: Probably off an honor (ph).

DUNNE: Yes. I was so happy for him.

KING: Me, too. Good guy.

DUNNE: Oh, he was great. And you know, in those days he was by far the handsomest man in Hollywood. I mean, he was a knockout. And all those -- I mean, he had more romances. I mean, Julie Christie and Natalie and...

KING: Ninth floor at the Beverly Wilshire.

DUNNE: There he is now. Yes.

KING: The Beatty floor. There is no ninth floor except for Warren -- for Warren Beatty. But now what a happy marriage he has. Father, Annette Bening. DUNNE: And she's -- have you seen her movie? She is so incredible.

KING: I've heard. I haven't. Really.

DUNNE: And she is...

KING: She'll get a nomination?

DUNNE: Without a doubt.

KING: George Hamilton and Linda Bird Johnson.

DUNNE: Yes. Well, George Hamilton, again, is one of the most fun guys ever, ever, ever. Wonderful, friendly, good guy. And -- and I remember that well with Linda Bird Johnson. I mean, he had quite a romance with her.

KING: They were serious?

DUNNE: Yes. He...

KING: His new child goes to kindergarten with my son.

DUNNE: Oh, yes?

KING: Now, Leonardo DiCaprio, who was on this program in a couple of weeks, joining Sharon Stone, an old friend. But they've got a picture of them together.

DUNNE: Yes. Yes.

KING: Sharon's terrific.

DUNNE: Wonderful. I've never met Leonardo DiCaprio.

KING: Have you seen "The Aviator"?

DUNNE: No. I'm dying to.

KING: You will like that.

A picture in the book of Gwyneth Paltrow. You know that whole family well.

DUNNE: I sure do.

KING: Tell us about her.

DUNNE: I sure do. Well, you know, she's a truly lovely young woman. And I think just wonderfully talented. And I think she's got a real sense of who she is, and I mean, because her parents had a very happy marriage and they were show folk also. He was a director, and of course, Blythe is such a lovely actress.

And you know, she -- she loved her father. She loves her mother. I mean, she's good, good, this girl.

KING: Was his death sudden? Her father's?

DUNNE: Not really. No.

KING: He was sick?


KING: My old friend Angie Dickinson's in the book.

DUNNE: One of the greats.

KING: That is not a bad looking woman.

DUNNE: No. I mean, and you know something about her, Angie?

KING: Great girl.

DUNNE: Great girl. And you know, she's had some major romances in her life...

KING: I know.

DUNNE: ... that she could have written about and made a lot of money.

KING: Gave it back. Got an advance and gave it back because she didn't want to write about it.

DUNNE: She never did it. Class act.

KING: They were going to bring back "This is Your Life." Remember that show?


KING: And the first guest was going to be Angie.


KING: And they had a big surprise for her, and they call her into the studio on some pretense. And "Angie Dickinson, this is your life." She walked out of the studio into...

DUNNE: Didn't need that.

KING: She didn't need that.

You're a voting member of the Academy. Any thoughts on the -- for example, how would you consider, say, "The Passion of the Christ" this year? How should we view that? Will it be a nominee?

DUNNE: Well, I mean, this is what's going to be so interesting. I mean, because God knows it made a lot of money, one of the most successful movies ever made. And -- but it was disliked by Hollywood, greatly disliked.

So you know, I just wonder. I just wonder. I mean, I -- I'm a Catholic. I happen to have admired the movie. And anyway, it's going to be interesting to see. And I kind of feel that they're going to ignore it.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll look at some more pictures from this extraordinary book and some more questions for our guest, Dominick Dunne. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dominick Dunne. We're going to show you some more pictures from the "Vanity Fair" collection in this wonderful book and then some more questions for Dominick. But -- his thoughts on some of the -- Helen Hayes.

DUNNE: Helen Hayes. Well, you know, I know she won the first Oscar, I think. But you know, I never think of her as a movie star.

KING: Theater.

DUNNE: She was a theater star. I mean, I think she made very few movies.

KING: Walter Pidgeon, Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.


KING: One picture together.

DUNNE: That's a wonderful picture. And Greer, you know, I mean...

KING: You know her?

DUNNE: Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, I know them all. I don't know how I knew them all, but I did. And you know, she was terrific. And toward the end of her life, when she -- she did several TV things, and I -- I was the stage manager. That's how I got to know her. And she was such a sweet, dear woman.

And then, you know, she married a rich guy. Buddy Fogelson, his name was. And then went and lived on a ranch.

KING: God, the things you've done. You were a stage manager, producer. Did you ever direct?

DUNNE: Never directed.

KING: Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee. Great movie out now, "Beyond the Sea," Kevin Spacey doing Bobby Darin's life.

DUNNE: I haven't seen it yet. I hear he's incredible.

KING: He's incredible. And you know... DUNNE: And he sings himself.

KING: Yes. Sings himself. Did you know both of them?

DUNNE: Neither. I didn't meet either.

KING: Jack Nicholson and Sally Kellerman.

DUNNE: Yes. Well, I know both; I have to. I know both of them. And Sally Kellerman still in the business. And you know -- and she's a terrific lady. And of course, Jack is beyond. I mean, of -- star of stars. And...

KING: What kind of guy is Jack Nicholson?

DUNNE: Well, I...

KING: Doesn't do interviews.

DUNNE: He doesn't do interviews? Yes.

KING: Doesn't. Every time I see him -- I see him a lot -- "I'm thinking about it."

DUNNE: Yes, yes. But you know, he's not a close friend, but I've always liked him. And -- and you know, he was -- you know, when Bob Evans got in sort of a financial jam and everything, Jack was right there.

KING: Helped him.

DUNNE: Do you remember?

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: He bought his house and then gave it back to him.

KING: Gave it back to him. Yes.


KING: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Rita went to school with my wife.

DUNNE: Did she?

KING: Yes. North Hollywood High. Hanks is a great guy, right?

DUNNE: Wonderful.

KING: There's a great guy.

DUNNE: Wonderful. He's the Jimmy Stewart of today, I think. You know? He's got that wonderful quality.

KING: You can't say a bad thing about him. DUNNE: No. And she's -- you know, she's a very talented actress, Rita.

KING: Oh, yes. Kim Basinger.

DUNNE: Another one I like very, very much. She was so great when she won the Academy Award. "L.A. Confidential," wasn't it?

KING: Yes. Good movie.

DUNNE: Wonderful. Wonderful.

KING: And Kevin was in that.


KING: Minnie Driver and Charlize Theron.

DUNNE: Yes. Don't know either.

KING: Two of the new ones. You don't know the new ones, right?

DUNNE: No, I don't know them.

KING: And Renee Zellweger, you don't...

DUNNE: I do. I do know Renee and like very much.

KING: Now how do you space your time? How do you deal with -- when are you west, when are you east?

DUNNE: Well, you know, I live in New York. I mean, I lived there for 25 years and then left that one career and started another one as a writer, moved to New York. But you know, Hollywood's part of my life, part of who I am. And I prefer living here now. You know, your life changes. This is where I should be.

But I love going there. I've got great friends there.

KING: Something puzzling: the red states, as they're called, knock Hollywood.


KING: But love it.


KING: Right? They knock it, but they go to movies.


KING: How do you explain that?

DUNNE: I don't know.

KING: Why is it so easy to pick on Hollywood? And there is no one Hollywood.

DUNNE: Yes. Well, I think when Hollywood became so political and it sort of -- must have annoyed the red states. That's all I can think of.

KING: Still go to movies, though.

DUNNE: Yes. They still go to the movies. But they -- it didn't affect their votes, you know? All the -- the actors, musicians and everything who were for Kerry.


DUNNE: And it didn't seem to sway them.

KING: Did you always know you could write?


KING: How did that...

DUNNE: I'll tell you what. As a producer, my biggest talent was in talking to writers. I could say to a writer, "Look, this is what's wrong. You've got to mail that letter here, not over there." And I always understood that.

And then I started -- I was doing the Elizabeth Taylor movie, and it was during the writers' strike and there -- had to be done. And I started writing dialogue. And then I heard -- I heard it and -- in the dailies. And I heard -- "My God, I wrote that. I wrote that line. I wrote that line."

And so it started to build, to build in me. And then it just took over, that I should be a writer. And I did.

KING: So you were a late in life start?

DUNNE: Fifty. That's -- I never wrote a word until I was 50. I got published when I was 53 for the first time. And I got a terrible review in "The New York Times," and...

KING: Did that depress you?

DUNNE: No. Because -- I'm very sensitive. I get hurt by things like that. But I thought, "Listen, I'm 53 years old. I got a book published. I got reviewed in 'The New York Times.' This is what -- I did this."

KING: And that book sold well, right?

DUNNE: Not that first one. But then came "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles."

KING: What was the first one?

DUNNE: It was -- it was a sequel to Joyce Haber's book called "The Users," and it was called "The Winners." It's actually a very good book. And -- but it got dumped on.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with a good friend, Dominick Dunne, right after these words.


KING: In our remaining moments with Dominick Dunne, he's written the afterward for "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'," a couple things catching up with Dominick.

You lost your brother.


KING: John Gregory Dunne.

DUNNE: A year ago.

KING: Now there was a great writer, too. For years.

DUNNE: Yes, he was wonderful. He was a wonderful writer. And you know, the thing is, Larry, I had -- becoming a writer late in life, as I did, it caused a rift between us.

KING: I heard that.

DUNNE: And, you know, there was this -- you know, two Irish Catholic brothers, you know, both in the same line. And there was jealousy on both sides. And -- and we had difficulties.

And about three years or four years ago, at 7 a.m., I was in the blood lab at Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals when I had prostate cancer, and my brother was there at 7 a.m. in the morning. And he was there for heart, and we were both giving blood. And we hadn't spoken in -- in about six years.

And he said, "What are you here for?"

I said, "What are you here for?"

And we just sort of hugged each other and forgot all about our problems, and we became incredibly close again for the last couple of years of our life.

KING: Was he younger?

DUNNE: Younger.

KING: A heart attack, right?

DUNNE: Heart attack.

KING: And how's Joan Didion, his wife, doing?

DUNNE: Joan Didion is a remarkable and wonderful woman. And she has handled all this and their daughter was quite ill as you probably know. And -- and...

KING: Her last book was terrific.

DUNNE: Yes. Her last -- wonderful. She's just a great writer.

KING: Both books.

DUNNE: Yes. And then -- and she wrote, also, about the -- the conventions in the "New York Review of Books." She's a wonderful writer. She's 100 pages into a new novel now.

KING: Oh, good.

DUNNE: And I talk to her -- I talk to her all the time.

KING: John Gregory, when he wrote a mystery, always gave you a little twist in the end.


KING: It was better than a mystery.

DUNNE: Yes. He was great.

KING: Have you -- do you ever get over the loss of a child?


KING: Do you think about her a lot?

DUNNE: I do. And I mean, it's not -- I mean, you -- the point is you go on with your life. Do you know what I mean? You go on.

KING: I can't imagine that, but I know you do.

DUNNE: And you have to. And my daughter is a part of every day of my life. I miss her. I carry her picture with me right here and kissed it before I came on your program.

And -- but it's no -- when I think of her now, it's not like with sadness. I think of how wonderful she was. And how beautiful she was. And how talented she was. And what fun we had in Italy together. And what fun -- do you know, it's nice.

KING: The good things.

DUNNE: I think she guides me.

KING: Do you -- is it doubly worse over the fact that she was murdered?

DUNNE: Of course. Of course.

KING: Like, not like a car accident?

DUNNE: No. Of course. Because, you know, there's a guy out there, John Sweeney, changed his name to John Moore (ph), who strangled her and who got just two and a half years in prison. Just don't get me going on that.

KING: I remember the day at the studios in L.A. when you were there with the judge who sentenced him. We had to separate them and send him home. Oh, my gosh.

DUNNE: That's crass.

KING: During the Simpson trial.

DUNNE: That's right. That's right. But you know, it changed all of our lives: my wife, my two boys. And, you know, but she's -- I think of her all the time.

KING: Couple of other things. "Vanity Fair," they give you carte blanche. You cover what you want, write about what you want?

DUNNE: Yes. But I mean, if Grayden -- now, you know, I didn't actually pick going to the Disney trial. Grayden called me up, and he said, "Have you read the financial section of 'The New York Times' yet?"

And I said, "I haven't even read the first page yet."

And he said, "Read it and call me back." And it was about the Disney case. And he said, "Can you go?"

And I said, "You bet." And I left the next day. I mean, I just went on one day.

But -- and normally I go in and say, "I want to do, like, the Specter trial." And I want to do -- I've got a great relationship with Grayden Carter. He's a fantastic man.

KING: Are you fascinated by murder?

DUNNE: Well, since it became part of my life, yes. Yes.

KING: I would imagine.


KING: It's kind of consuming.


KING: Dominick, what an honor just to be in your presence. One of my favorite people.

Dominick Dunne, special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" magazine, best-selling author on "New York Times," host of Court TV's "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice," and the author of the afterward for "Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties from the Editors of 'Vanity Fair'."

I'll be back in a couple minutes. Don't go away.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Dominick Dunne, one of my favorite folk. Another one of my favorite folk is Aaron Brown, and he's next with "NEWSNIGHT."

See you tomorrow night. Good night.


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