Issue:        09.07.01 
Page:       n/a
'Rock Star' Wahlberg's mane event Buff actor chats about 'do, showbiz after S.F. screening

Ruthe Stein
  Friday, September 7, 2001

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Mark Wahlberg has distanced himself from his Marky Mark-Calvin Klein pants-dropping days, but a lucky audience Wednesday night at the Metreon got an eyeful of his toned torso -- clad in leather, no less -- in the new movie "Rock Star."

"I was comfortable (going shirtless) because I had all that hair," he said at the W Hotel party after the New Yorker Film Series screening. Wahlberg's long, poufy heavy-metal 'do in the movie is mostly extensions, though he grew his own mane for a year and a half for the role.

Wahlberg, in town for about a second before hopping the red-eye to New York,

looked airport-ready in sweater, T-shirt, jeans and work boots. He called his current hairstyle "a mess," doffing his baseball cap to reveal a cropped and slightly mussed look.

"Rock Star's" backstage Betties and artfully trashed hotel rooms are a far cry from Wahlberg's own days touring with the Funky Bunch, he says.

"I tried to create that, but my audience was 13-year-old girls and their mothers," he said. "And maybe one 40-year-old guy who came to see me in my underwear."

The "Planet of the Apes" star had trouble deciding which were scarier -- groupies or apes. "That's a tough one," he said. "I would have to say apes. Especially ("Planet" villain) Tim Roth."

Wahlberg chatted at the party with San Francisco's Stephan Jenkins, the Third Eye Blind front man who plays his untalented singing rival in "Rock Star, " which opens today. Jenkins says the movie got the excesses of the road just right. He admits to having indulged in a few of those excesses, but says he stopped short of destroying hotel rooms.

"I have too much respect for working people. I couldn't do that to the maids."

DOUBLE DESK DUTY: Local actors often have to moonlight to pay the rent. Still, Helen Shumaker's day job while making "Haiku Tunnel" was a tad unusual. She worked as a secretary while she was playing one in the new comedy about underlings in a Financial District law office.

Shumaker laughed at the idea that she might confuse her secretarial duties onscreen and off. "Nah," she assured me. "I know when I'm acting." That's just as well for her real-life office mates. Her character, Marlina, is an uber secretary so tightly wound she doesn't need a clock to get to the office on time. Her efficiency is in direct contrast to the mess made by a temp named Josh, played by Josh Kornbluth. The movie is based on a Kornbluth monologue, which in turn was inspired by his experiences as an S.F. office temp.

"Frankly, I don't think the two of us have ever discussed secretarial work, " Shumaker said. "Why would we need to? There is next to nothing interesting about it."

Shumaker has been a fixture on New York and San Francisco stages, most spectacularly in the one-woman show "Mona Rogers in Person," in which her imposing presence made her appear a foot taller than her 5 feet. Not only is Marlina her biggest movie role, but Shumaker's face is also prominent on the "Haiku Tunnel" poster. "It's all wonderfully flattering," she said.

HAWKE ONSTAGE: "The Late Henry Moss" opened in New York Wednesday without Sean Penn, Nick Nolte and the rest of the star-studded cast that sold out the San Francisco run. The new production of Sam Shepard's dysfunctional-family drama does boast one box-office draw: Ethan Hawke, returning to the New York stage after eight years. Hawke started in the theater but got diverted in Hollywood. Every time I've talked to this most genial actor, he's mentioned how much he misses the stage. The "Henry Moss" offer came at the right time. With his wife, Uma Thurman, pregnant with their second child, Hawke wants to stick close to their lower Manhattan home.

SWINTON CLONED: San Francisco director Lynn Hershman, who needs $300,000 or so to put the finishing touches on her futuristic film "Teknolust," is suddenly getting offers from financiers she hasn't even hit up. The reason: "Teknolust" stars Tilda Swinton, who has snowed critics as a mother in distress in the indie summer hit "The Deep End."

Her role -- or rather roles -- in "Teknolust" couldn't be more different. "I'm a computer genius called Rosetta Stone who cyber clones herself three times. I play all three cyber roles," Swinton told me. The movie was shot last year in a South of Market studio and on the streets of San Francisco. "If anybody saw a very strange-looking woman in a little green electric cart, that was probably me." With an infusion of new money, "Teknolust" should be ready in time to apply for the Sundance Film Festival.

Speaking of Sundance, the deadline for submitting features and documentaries has been pushed up to Sept. 28. The 10-day festival starts Jan. 10, a week earlier than usual, to make room for the Winter Olympics in Utah.

KAEL'S IMPACT: Before going to "Funny Girl" at the Castro on Sunday, I checked my well-worn copy of "5001 Nights at the Movies" to see what Pauline Kael had to say about it. As usual, she was spot on, raving about Barbra Streisand but describing Omar Sharif as "phlegmatic." On my way home, I learned that Kael had died.

At our house, she's the only critical voice that counts when it comes to older movies. In the late '70s, a certain middlebrow director went on a rant about Kael while speaking at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Someone in the audience yelled out, "Her reviews will outlive your movies." That's already happened.

Carla Meyer contributed to this report. E-mail Ruthe Stein at