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Today in Old-Lion Feuds That Crack Us Up: Norman Mailer vs. Jean-Luc Godard

From left, Normal Mailer; Jean-Luc Godard.Photos: Getty Images

"I will say, and this is for the record, Jean-Luc Godard may well be the third most awful man I've met in my life." So announced a somewhat shrunken Norman Mailer onstage at the Walter Reade Theater yesterday. He was wearing black Uggs and a fleece vest, and he moved across stage with the help of two walking canes. The master of highbrow feuds wrote the script for Godard's King Lear in 1987, a deal Mailer agreed to in exchange for funding of his own films. "I knew that Godard was going to destroy any script I wrote of King Lear," Mailer said, without venom but with a dry smile. "I thought, well, Paris is worth a glance. Godard and I got along for about 24 hours before we split our ways."

So if Godard is No. 3, who are Nos. 1 and 2? No. 1: Some midwestern executive he sat across from at a dinner years ago. And No. 2? Ronald Reagan. —Emma Pearse