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Spotlight On...Battle of the Exes

Although he stayed behind the camera while directing his first feature, Addicted to Love, actor Griffin Dunne couldn't stop acting. During filming in Manhattan last year, says star Meg Ryan, "Griffin sat by the monitor, acting out all the parts he was watching. He didn't even realize that he was doing it. His lips moved. His arms waved. It was hysterical."

Dunne, 41, gained fame when he starred in Martin Scorsese's quirky 1985 comedy After Hours. But few of his subsequent roles clicked. "Often times with acting," he says, "I'd go, 'What was I thinking?' " After directing the Oscar-nominated 1995 short The Duke of Groove, he was tapped for Addicted, a comedy costarring Matthew Broderick about two spurned lovers uniting for revenge. "I wasn't ready to do this 10 years ago," says Dunne, who lives in Manhattan and intends to spend the summer with his daughter Hannah, 7, by his ex-wife Carey Lowell. "But it was like a high. It appealed to me in a way I wasn't expecting." Dunne, who plans to continue acting, is the son of one famed writer (Dominick Dunne) and nephew of two more (John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion). His sister, actress Dominique (Poltergeist), was slain by her ex-boyfriend in 1982--"a horrible, terrible, life-changing incident," says Dunne. When his father (who plays a restaurant critic in Addicted) covered the first O.J. Simpson trial, "everyone I know called me to have me ask my father their questions."


1997 © People Weekly


Murder, he wrote in his entertaining


A tardy addition to the bulging O.J. Simpsonography, Dominick Dunne's Another City, Not My Own doesn't so much turn the case inside out--leave that to the Larry Schillers of this lurid little world--as furnish the hateful thing with a fancy chintz slipcover. By dubbing it "a novel in the form of a memoir" (it's obviously the converse) and telling it through his familiar alter ego, Gus Bailey (An Inconvenient Woman), this high-society chronicler and inveterate name-dropper gets away with reporting all those toothsome, off-the-record bits of gossip that he couldn't sneak into his Vanity Fair trial bulletins. No one dined out more lavishly on Simpson than Dunne, the recipient of endless hushed and conspiratorial confidences at the Palm and the Bel-Air and a nonstop whirl of parties. The thread binding this gadabout fluff is Dunne's rage: rage at the man convicted of killing his daughter Dominique 15 years ago, stoking a lifelong obsession with justice; at kissy-kissy L.A. society for shunning him when he was a down-and-out producer; at a reporter who, jealous of the ringside courtroom seat afforded the author by Judge Ito, sneers that he is "Judith Krantz in pants." Even she probably wouldn't have dared to shamelessly tack on Princess Diana and Andrew Cunanan as glitzy plot devices, but Dunne bobs and weaves so skillfully from Veronica Hearst to Heidi Fleiss that his fiction (or is it journalism?) is something like delicate needlework. Guiltily mouthwatering stuff.

--Alexandra Jacobs

1997 © Time



Sad-sack sequels and silly superstition about a cast jinx are quickly overshadowing a remarkable movie. The original 1982 Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, was a powerful ghost story. The lackluster 1986 sequel, directed by Brian Gibson, distanced that memory. So did the notoriety attached to the deaths of several cast members: Dominique Dunne, the original's teen daughter, was strangled by her lover. Julian Beck, the evil Rev. Kane in the first sequel, died of cancer. Will Sampson, the Indian medicine man in Part II, died after undergoing a heart-lung transplant. On Feb. 1, the youngest member of the Poltergeist family -- 12-year-old Heather O'Rourke -- died from complications of an intestinal disorder. Now comes the dreadful Part III. Nothing here deserves note, except for O'Rourke, who finished the movie seven months before her death. While the other actors camp up the screenplay co-written by director Gary (Vice Squad) Sherman, O'Rourke acts the role she created at age 5 with thorough professionalism. Her character has been sent by her parents to Chicago to stay with an aunt and uncle (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt). The evil spirits who have haunted her from the first follow; so does the medium, played by an increasingly eccentric Zelda Rubinstein. ''Innocence is the only gift given in life; all else must be fought for,'' she mutters. Another character retorts: ''That's a lot of crap that doesn't mean anything.'' Precisely. Even the special effects -- the undead lurk in the hallway mirrors of a Chicago high rise -- fail to convince. O'Rourke's reactions are so authentic she compels belief; she seems to be the only one who realized that character integrity was the key to the first film's success. That is the mark of a true actress. She will be missed. (PG-13)

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new dunne tragedy

DOMINICK DUNNE suffered the terrible loss of his daughter, Dominique, some years back when she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. (The killer spent a shockingly brief time in jail.) That tragedy, however, resulted in Dunne's applying himself to more serious writing and investigative journalism. Now, just as his new book, "Another City, Not My Own," lands on the bestseller lists, tragedy has struck Dominick once again. He has canceled his book tour because of his nephew's death in a private-plane crash. (The son of Dominick's oldest brother, Richard.)

But the man who covered the O. J. Simpson trial with such vigor, and who stood up so strongly for the victims, did receive a raving fan note from George Bush. The ex-Prez opened his salutation with "Dear Gus," which is what Dominick calls himself in his semi-fictional pages. Nancy Reagan also chimed in to tell Dominick she liked his book and enjoyed reading about herself in his L.A.-dominated roman a clef.

--Liz Smith

1997 © Newsday


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