Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend

Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend

Miramax Films gave a really nice premiere last night for Stephen Frears’s sexy new film, “Cheri.”

After the premiere screening at the Directors Guild, the studio took over the Hudson Hotel and tossed a lovely get-together. Almost everyone came ‘ Frears plus cast members Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend. But star Michelle Pfeiffer must have decided it wasn’t for her. She came to the screening, took a bow at the start, then skipped out and was never seen again. Maybe she doesn’t like finger food.

The premiere did draw an eclectic crowd including Jean Reno, Dana Delany (on shore leave from “Desperate Housewives”), Bob and Lynne Balaban, and Donald Trump with wife Melania. Frears introduced the film, based on a novel by French legend Colette. As usual the director of “The Grifters” and “The Queen” ‘ among others ‘ has made a beautifully crafted, compelling piece of cinema. It’s almost like a sequel to his “Dangerous Liaisons,” except, as he pointed out to me, it’s not. It’s just that Pfeiffer is the star again, Christopher Hampton translated and adapted the story.

“The two have almost nothing to do with each other,” he told me. “When we made that movie, we were children.” It was 20 years ago, believe it or not. “This one was hard. It’s a chamber piece. And maintaining the tone was the biggest problem.”

Well, he did it. “Cheri” is the nickname of Friend’s foppish young man who sleeps around Paris in the early 1900s until he falls for the older Pfeiffer. She’ s a retired courtesan with a lot of money. Cheri’s own mother is a retired whore with money, played to perfection by Kathy Bates. The affair unfolds until, well, it doesn’t.

“Cheri” is one of those rare films that builds interest as it develops. If only Pfeiffer had come to the party, we would have told her that. Ah well. At least we got to talk to Kathy Bates. And the lambchops were terrific!

P.S. Outside the DGA Theatre on West 57th St. a’ well spoken young woman stopped Dana Delany. She said, “I’m from Germany, but I learned all my English from ‘China Beach’ and ‘The Cosby Show.’ My mother and I used to watch ‘China Beach’ all the time and studied how you spoke.”

Delany was a little concerned since her character cursed a lot and was a borderline alcoholic. But that’s the power of American TV. She told the woman she was honored.’ Nice.

P.P.S. “Cheri” boasts rare appearances by two women closely associated with the history of rock, of all things. Anita Pallenberg, famously Keith Richards’s ex, makes a cameo as a fellow courtesan. The scene was shot in Maxim’s in Paris. And Frances Tomelty, first wife of Sting, and mother of his two eldest children, plays Pfeiffer’s maid. Tomelty works regularly in British TV and theater but we rarely see her in films released here. Neat casting in both cases.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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