Tribeca Festgoers Party Hard, A Frenzy of New Indie Productions, Susan Sarandon’s Gala & More
by Wendy Mitchell
INDUSTRY MOVES: Michelle Coe has joined documentary distributor First Run/Icarus Films as publicity and marketing associate. Previously, she worked in production with Susan Stover at HeadQuarters and served as program director at the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF).
Jon Fitzgerald has resigned as executive director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He will continue to consult to the festival while a search committee selects a new artistic director. He will work on film productions and spend more time with his family.
Adam Schiff has left Rogers & Cowan to join Dan Klores Communications. Before R&C, he had worked at Rubenstein Associates.
PRODUCTION NOTES: Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick have started shooting Holedigger Films’ “Marie and Bruce,” along with actors Bob Balaban, Griffin Dunne, Steve Burns, and Campbell Scott. Tom Cairns is directing, based on a play by Wallace Shawn about a glimpse at a rocky 24 hours in one couple’s marriage. George Van Buskirk is producing with Kelly Miller, David Newman, Jonathan Cavendish, Amy Robinson, and Julianne Moore executive producing. Shooting started Monday in Manhattan.
In other production news, John Ridley (the writer of “Three Kings”) will direct his self-penned thriller “Let Me Take You Down” for Lions Gate Films. Ridley will also produce with his new outfit, International Famous Players Radio Picture Corporation, along with Michael Jenkinson of Urban Entertainment. Marc Butan will oversee for Lions Gate. The script is about a worker in the L.A. coroner’s office who notices similarities between a current case and the 1947 Black Dahlia mystery.
Also, Shane Meadows (“Once Upon a Time in the Midlands”) has started shooting an untitled feature that he co-wrote with actor Paddy Considine. Considine stars alongside Gary Stretch and newcomer Mark Herbert. Mark Herbert for Warp Films is producing the film, said to be a “genre-busting and distinctly mind-bending tale of vengeance.”
TIPSY IN TRIBECA: The buzz of the week, of course, was the Tribeca Film Festival. And while there were hundreds of great films playing, what you really want is the party gossip, right? Things kicked off at the opening night screening for “Down With Love,” followed by an after-party at the overly spacious Winter Garden. While BUZZ had intended to propose marriage to the film’s star, Ewan McGregor, sadly he decided to skip the party and head to dinner with Renee Zellweger instead. Next time, Ewan. By all accounts, this gala wasn’t quite as memorable as last year’s (nor as filling — the masses were fighting over scraps of cheese like castaways on “Survivor.”) The Grey Goose was flowing, and there were notable appearances by Michael Moore, Bai Ling, and other celebs, but things never really got cooking. We’ll blame the too-large space and the occasional wafts of sewage smells.
Wednesday night also welcomed a wealth of events: sadly, BUZZ missed our chance to sip Hungarian brandy with the makers of the doc “Divan,” but we did hit a few other bashes, starting with the intimate reception for Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” (Focus Features). The party was heavy on star power, with LaBute, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, Rachel Weisz, Frederick Weller, Liev Schreiber, and others in attendance. The next party stop was Plexifilm’s bash at Bauhaus for “Style Wars,” screening at Tribeca and also out on DVD. The Sundance Grand Prize-winning doc, which aired on PBS in 1983, examines groundbreaking graffiti artists in New York. The line for this party was stretching around the block when doors opened, with an eclectic crowd of original graffiti artists, hip-hop fans, doc lovers, and of course the Plexifilm crew along with director Tony Silver and co-producer Henry Chalfant. Alas, drinks weren’t free, so we had to keep moving. Our final Wednesday party stop was at the insane after-party for Damon Dash’s “Death of a Dynasty” at The Breakfast Club. The place was mobbed, and everyone and their sister was trying to fight their way to hang with Mr. Dash and his posse in the VIP room. While we were hoping to get a chance to sing “Pass the Courvoisier” to some new pals, we had to settle for the free bottle of Dash’s Armadale vodka sitting out on the table. After we got denied entry to the VIP area, and then kicked out of the non-VIP area to make room for more VIPs, we decided to take the Armadale down the street to one of our favorite dives, the refreshingly VIP-free Johnny’s Bar. Stay tuned for next week’s buzz for the lowdown on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday parties.
SEEKING SUSAN: The glitterati and literati turned out on Monday as The Film Society of Lincoln Center honored Susan Sarandon at their 2003 Gala Tribute. The evening was chock-a-bloc with lengthy film clips from 19 of Sarandon’s films (including “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” If only BUZZ could have seen her face!) On hand to help her celebrate were David Bowie, Geena Davis, Tim Curry, Paul Schrader, and John Turturro, along with partner Tim Robbins, singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte, and author Gore Vidal, who is godfather to one of the Robbins/Sarandon sons. Line of the night went to legend Bowie who began his remarks with: “Sharp, sassy and seriously sexy…but enough about me.” Scamp! Added Sarandon humbly, at the close of the lovefest: “After seeing all those clips, I’m impressed with myself!” So are we!
RIDE ‘EM COWBOY: Spring has officially sprung now that Cowboy Pictures has resumed its monthly Friday happy hours at its Laight Street offices. Last Friday, Cowboy’s John Vanco and team were celebrating the company’s joining forces with Greg Williams, Vicki Loughery, and Rick Thiedig. Among the crowd was Mary Litkovich of Jeremy Walker & Associates, Matthew Ross of Filmmaker Magazine, Kodak’s Anne Hubbell, “Cinemania” director Stephen Kijak, Palm Pictures’ Ryan Werner, Mark Rabinowitz of the Hamptons Film Festival, and, as that clever Mr. Vanco joked, the “indieWIRE riff raff.” The crowd huddled in the kitchen close to the booze and snacks before a screening of Marcel Camus’ 1959 classic “Black Orpheus.”
DRIVE IN: After the Cowboy event, BUZZ and friends walked over to the reception for the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival at the swank Thom Bar at 60 Thompson. Spotted in that crowd were filmmaker Doug Liman, Blender magazine film writer Ted Lambert, producer Diana Williams, Stephanie Rudnick from Hypnotic, and some other folks we’ve since forgotten. Luckily, we did remember the point of the party: Chrysler’s Million Dollar Film Fest, which selected 10 semifinalists who spent this past week in New York shooting and editing their five-minute “extreme films.” After a screening on Saturday night, five finalists will be picked to go work and live in Los Angeles, and of course the ultimate winner — to be named in September — will get a $1 million production and distribution deal.
DE NIRO WHO? BUZZ would like to remind the Tribeca Film Festival that it is a good idea to have celeb-savvy door security at their so-called hospitality tent. On Wednesday we caught sight of “Sex and the City” and “Law and Order” star Chris Noth (“Mr. Big”) being denied entrance to the tent, where he was supposed to meet some friends. Thankfully, a tent staffer chased the actor down the street and convinced him to return. BUZZ also heard tale of a certain prominent indie acquisitions exec who was in the tent without a badge being told: “I don’t care if you get a proper credential, you’re not getting back in here.” Needless to say, the buyer was most certainly back in the tent minutes later with the aforementioned pass.
[Mark Rabinowitz contributed to this story.]