Don’t call Nicole Kidman a “beginner” and then expect her to work with you again!

That’s the advice screen great Lauren Bacall should have heeded before recently insulting the beautiful Oscar winner. Nicole, 37, and Lauren, 80, were at the Venice Film Festival promoting their new film “Birth” when Lauren took a swipe at Nicole after a TV interviewer referred to the flame-haired actress as a “legend.”

“She’s not a legend,” said Lauren — with Nicole right at her side. “She’s a beginner. What is this legend? She can’t be a legend at whatever age she is. She can’t be a legend — you have to be older.”


The star of such film classics as “The Big Sleep” and “Key Largo” went on to say:

“I love working with a young actress. Nicole and I worked together on ‘Dogville’ and we were friends when we started this. That laid the groundwork for our fabulous relationship onscreen and off.”

Said a friend of Nicole: “It was obvious that Lauren was trying to regroup and offset her cutting remarks about Nicole, but the damage was already done.” Nicole was stunned by the comments.

“And the fact that the put-down came from someone she considered a good friend and with whom she had worked on two films was all the more devastating.”


The remark was especially painful because Nicole had suggested Humphrey Bogart‘s feisty widow to play her mother in “Birth,” according to the friend.

“Nicole went off to her hotel room and spent hours alone.

“She ultimately realized that Lauren was trying to make a point and wasn’t out to hurt her.” But in a business where egos are as large as the paychecks, the remark still deeply hurt Nicole, who won an Oscar for “The Hours.”

“Nicole and Lauren have since reached a truce over the hurtful remarks,” but Nicole’s friend says she’s still so hurt that it’s a virtual certainty you’ll never see the two actresses on the same movie set again. — ALAN BUTTERFIELD