Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cuba Gooding Jr. Unveils His Tasty “Louisiana Caviar” with Famke Janssen and Greg Bello for Chris Cuomo, Ari Melber, Media Elite


You really have to like someone to trek all the way to the South Street Seaport to see their movie. I actually forgot the Seaport was still there– what happened to it, it was such a rocking spot in the early 1990s?

Anyway, lots of people put on their GPS and found the iPic Theater on Fulton Street next to what used to be the Fulton Fish Market before Rudy Giuliani kicked out the mob and the Gap came in. The mob is now very missed. But the iPic has comfortable seats and tasty popcorn, so that’s something.

We came for Cuba Gooding Jr.’s directorial debut, “Louisiana Caviar,” in which he plays a former boxer who gets caught up in a very shady deal involving Richard Dreyfus. The glorious Famke Janssen has a knockout performance as a kind of punk lesbian photographer. She sports a short black wig and very convincing tattoos that are, thank god, all fakes. (“American Idol” star and David Foster squeeze Katherine McPhee is her lover and looks swell.)

New York’s favorite local actor, Greg Bello, acquits himself beautifully as an Orthodox Jew who gets scammed by everyone including hot newcomer Lia Marie Johnson, who is Capitol Records’ next Big Thing.

The whole thing was shot for $3.5 million in 18 days with a gorgeous palette from DP Wedigo von Schultzendorff, who gives New Orleans a golden washed out look for this cast of misfits struggling to rise above a caper gone bad. Some of the shots of the lesser characters (who I think are locals) could be taken out and used as photographs they’re so stunning.

Among those who shlepped: CNN’s Chris Cuomo and wife Cristina, MSNBC’s Ari Melber, Famke herself looking stunning, Michael and Laurie Gelman and so on. This was not a premiere, just a look-see until distributors come in with bids. But expect to see “Louisiana Caviar” in theaters before the end of the year. Cuba has the bug, now– “I love directing,” he told me , and it shows. Plus he used a song from his famous late dad, singer Cuba Gooding Jr of the Main Ingredient that showcased his old man’s lovely R&B tenor. What more could you want?

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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