A London journalist friend tells me it was a bit of a touch-and-go thing about whether Oscar hopeful Peter O’Toole, 74, would attend tonight’s London Film Festival “Mayor of London” gala screening of Roger Michell‘s Venus, but word came down late yesterday that he’d be dropping by after all, although probably not for long.

It’s not touch and go, however, about whether O’Toole will attend the AFI Film Festival’s special screening on 11.7 or the 11.10 Los Angeles Venus junket — he’s flat-out not coming. These two no-shows on top of O’Toole being too sick to attend the Toronto Film Festival’s festivities for Venus last month (i.e., his doctor said no), and you can’t help but wonder and ask questions.
The answer, apparently, is that O’Toole’s doing okay — he works a lot (Stardust, One Night with The King, Romeo and Me, Lassie, Venus and a TV Casanova in just the last year and a half, and another film — La Fenice — in the wings) and apparently he just hates flying back and forth to Los Angeles and is going to concentrate his Oscar-promoting chores to a period between December-January.
The flying aversion has something to do with the fact that O’Toole fell and busted his hip on 12.26.05 during the shooting of Venus, which led to surgery and a three-week filming delay, and because it’s painful for a guy with that kind of recent history to sit on a nine-hour flight.
Being 74 years old doesn’t automatically mean a withered lifestyle and cutting back. I know about guys in their late 70s and 80s who play tennis and go out to dinner and ride bicycles and everything else. The great Norman Lloyd, whom I met last year when he was 90, was driving a Jaguar around town and playing doubles tennis at the time. On the other hand it’s no secret that heavy imbibing in the prime of one’s life will often lead to a withered condition or an early check-out when you’re older. It’s called paying the piper.