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Dennis Hopper Reflects on Sordid Past

hollywoodexclusive1Perhaps the latest proof that Dennis Hopper's sordid past has been forgiven comes with his disclosure that after a wait of 16 years, he's finally found the financing to direct a film based on a story he wrote, with production expected to start "As soon as we get through Christmas."

Hopper, who hit his initial career high directing "Easy Rider," then found his career crashing to the ground with the follow-up, "The Last Movie," these days has a multi-faceted successful career. His book, "Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967," will have him doing promotional chores in New York and abroad, including stops in London, Brussels, Berlin and Athens. And he's happily wrapping up the second season of the Starz series version of the movie "Crash" for debut Sept. 18. Of it he says: "We work hard — sometimes up to 14 to 17 hours — but I won't complain. The show is great, and it's featuring some marvelous guest performances by Eric Roberts, Peggy Lipton and Keith Carradine."

He has been free of narcotics and alcohol for 26 years now and says he's just sorry "I stayed on drugs and booze for so long. I'm just lucky I got through it and have ended up with a wonderful life. I should have been dead 10 times over. I believe in miracles and it's an absolute miracle I'm still around"

After all these years, he still regrets that the 1972 "The Last Movie" was shelved by Universal Studios after just a brief run — and that its failure led to the studio dropping him from its roster of talent and his ending up persona non grata in Hollywood for years.

He still defends "The Last Movie," though it was ravaged by critics here. "It won the Venice Film Festival," he reminds. He doesn't defend his behavior making the movie that was considered such an important project that Life magazine had a reporter follow the actor to Peru. The subsequent location story branded Hopper as "a sullen renegade who talks revolution, settles arguments with karate, goes to bed with groups and has taken trips on everything you can swallow or shoot."

Hopper won't argue that he engaged in years of outrageous behavior. He's just glad "I got through it and have ended up with a wonderful life."

FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: Mekhi Phifer tells us he was already a big fan of Fox's "Lie to Me" — in which Tim Roth's character has acute capabilities to perceive lies — before ever having a clue that he would eventually join the cast of the crime drama. In fact, he says, "I TiVo'ed it from the first episode. It's obviously more than just a procedural show. It's not like watching 'CSI.' Nothing against 'CSI,' but this goes a different way, with Tim's ability to read people's micro-expressions and things of that nature." So, when the chance came around to play the FBI agent involved with Roth's group, says Phifer, "I was very flattered, and glad to have the chance to play a character with a sense of strength, intrigue and unpredictability." His character was introduced the final two episodes last season, and will be a regular when the show returns Sept. 28.

The longtime "ER" doc says "Lie to Me" also worked out perfectly for him personally speaking. "Doing a good series allows me to be multidimensional. I can be here in town, work and make great money for my family, and do rewarding work. I've been on an ensemble before, obviously, with 'ER,' and the hours are very livable. You have strong episodes where you have to do a hell of a lot and work long hours, and then you have episodes that are not so hectic."

THE BIG SCREEN SCENE: A sequel to 1993's harrowing film about girls in the Latino gang world of East L.A., "Mi Vida Loca," is on the way to production. Stars Seidy Lopez and Angel Aviles are back to reprise their roles as best friends from childhood, whose relationship was sorely tested in the original movie when one slept with, and became pregnant by, the other's boyfriend. The new film's called "Smile Now Cry Later," as in the slogan about entering gang life.

TV TRAUMAS: Casting notices have gone out for a redo of the pilot for CBS's "Miami Trauma" — not to be confused with NBC's soon-due "Trauma" — including a new co-star role of a 50-ish reliable and capable nurse. The show is from Jerry Bruckheimer, who can afford to go back and get it right.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: They're looking for four Elton Johns — at age 5, age 12, in his 20s and in his 40s — for a musical tribute to the legendary singer-composer, "Rocket Man," planned for unveiling next April in San Bernardino, Calif. Also wanted are performers to play Bernie Taupin, Patti LaBelle and ... Princess Margaret.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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