Salman Rushdie, Aspiring Actor

Rushdie at last night's gala. Photo: Patrick McMullan

The big question for the day at the nexus of literature and pop culture is this: Just how hard is Salman Rushdie trying to break into showbiz? First, we had Helen Hunt telling us about casting Rushdie as her obstetrician in her new movie, Then She Found Me. Now we've got Rushdie showing up, somewhat inexplicably, in Scarlett Johansson's new music video. So when we bumped into Rushdie last night at the big PEN gala at the American Museum of Natural History, we asked him if he was trying to launch a full-blown acting career, even as he prepares for the American release of his latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence. "If your magazine succeeds in attracting producers to make the phone calls, then yes," he said. Our magazine? As in New York? "Just do a bit of work on my behalf, that'd be fine," he persisted. Where was this new ambition coming from? we asked. "I did a lot of student acting when I was young," said Rushdie. "I guess it's an itch that needs scratching. So I'm trying to scratch it." —Tim Murphy

Hear more literary gossip from Gay Talese, Calvin Trillin, and Tina Brown at our complete coverage of last night's PEN gala.

Earlier: How Helen Hunt Got Salman Rushdie to Give Her a Sonogram
Scarlett Johansson's Music Video Confirms: Her Album Is Good