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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 12, 2010 at 12:30 PM

In the desert with Warren Beatty and “Ishtar”

As you may well have heard, there’s a new Warren Beatty book out, written by Peter Biskind and featuring one statistic that raised my eyebrow to the ceiling: Beatty has, according to Biskind, bedded approximately 12,775 women between 1956 and 1991. As a woman not on that list (though I will admit to having a crush on Beatty back in high school), I find the number hard to believe, especially as Slate points out that during that time Beatty did not have an iPhone and presumably had some days when he was busy making movies or, you know, meeting people for coffee. By the way, the book is called “Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America,” a title that takes on new meaning when you consider the statistic.
Anyway, enough of that; what the book’s presence does well is to remind us that Beatty was once a powerhouse in American cinema. He’s the only person other than Orson Welles to get four Oscar nominations for a single film (for best picture, director, screenwriter and actor), and he did it twice: with his masterpiece “Reds” and his charming “Heaven Can Wait” (the film that caused the aforementioned crush). And then, well, there was “Ishtar,” a legendary Hollywood boondoggle that cost a fortune, earned a pittance, and surely left Beatty and costar Dustin Hoffman unable to sing in public ever again. Vanity Fair this week has the “Ishtar” chapter from Biskind’s book online, and it’s pretty good reading, particularly the part about a blind camel being hard to find.

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