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Helen Mirren in a bikiniHelen Mirren in a bikini, pictured on the cover of last week’s Daily News. She is hot. Watched DVD of Prime Suspect last night and recalled meeting her once, in the Beverly Center, a vertical shopping mall in LA. I was w/my pal, director Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul) and she was with her hubby, director Taylor Hackford (Officer & Gentleman). The two guys knew each other and we all stopped to chat in the midst of the swirling shoppers. This was twenty years ago, before she’d become a star, but her quiet, throbbing magnetism was unmistakable, and her heat, and I remember thinking, Hackford, you’re a lucky guy. Then she told a funny story about Noel Coward, prompted by Paul’s imitation (we used to do voices of characters all the time). “I knew him, for an evening, once,” she said, meaning Coward, “when James Mason invited me to his chalet in Switzerland. One night he said to me, ‘I’ve asked a pair of fellows to dinner whom you might enjoy -Charlie and Noel.’ He meant Chaplin and Coward (!). Well, I got so excited, I was anticipating hearing some scintillating, revealing, witty theatrical stories from these two legendary figures. But Noel was in his sixties, and Chaplin was close to eighty, and all through dinner it was, ‘Oh, Charlie, it’s my back, I’m so stiff’, and Chaplin would say, ‘It takes me ten minutes to urinate’ and there I was, with these brilliant men and it was all they talked about all night, how decrepit they were getting. Funny, really.”