BUZZ for February 28: Alexander Payne, BAFTAs Across the Pond, and "Horns and Halos"
by Wendy Mitchell
ABOUT PAYNE: At MoMA's Alexander Payne tribute on Tuesday night, the audience was treated to witty and humble remarks from Payne as well as clips from all of his films (even his acclaimed 1991 film school flick "The Passion of Martin"). Too bad moderator Bingham Ray from United Artists never managed to really ask any direct questions of Payne, but it was still a mostly enjoyable presentation -- part of MoMA's "A Work in Progress" series, which honored David O. Russell in last year's inaugural event.
One tidbit that Payne fans may be surprised to hear is that this "Bard of Omaha" plans to set his movies outside of Nebraska in the near future: "I'm anxious to move out of Omaha," he told the crowd. At the after-party thrown by Vanity Fair at the W Union Square, champagne and white cosmos were flowing. Stars showing support for Payne included Alan Cumming, David O. Russell, Dermot Mulroney, Howard Hesseman, Jimmy Fallon, John Waters, Kimberly Peirce, Marisa Tomei, Matt Dillon, Nanette Burstein, Peter Sollett, Willem Dafoe, Mary Kay Place, "About Schmidt" author Louis Begley, and Payne's new wife Sandra Oh. We wishfully thought we caught a glimpse of Paul Thomas Anderson, but it was hard to tell due to the haze of marijuana smoke that seemed to hang near the A-listers! After that party wrapped, Buzz and friends retreated to the Starlight Lounge where "Party Monster" producer Jon Marcus was showing off his DJ skills. Spotted in that crowd: Tribeca Film Fest's David Kwok, filmmaker Stephen Kijak, and IFC's Ramsey Fong. We were all grooving to a stellar Stone Roses tune until Marcus threw us a curveball with some N'Sync! That was a sure sign it was time to head home.
BIG APPLE BAFTAS: A few hundred film biz professionals and film fans were on hand Sunday afternoon in New York for a simulcast of the BAFTA awards. The event, held at the posh Hudson Theatre at the Broadway Millennium Hotel, was presented by BAFTA East Coast and sponsored by Audio Plus Video, BBC Films, Claridge's, Schweppes, Sony, Virgin Atlantic, Miramax, and the Millennium. A well-heeled and well-behaved crowd including BAFTA's Christina Thomas and actors Bob Balaban, Marissa Berenson, and Sylvia Miles, noshed on some great food (thankfully, no shepherd's pie) and sipped wine while watching the telecast. The BAFTAs are mercifully shorter than the Oscars, and also helped by the witticisms of host Stephen Fry, who warned the crowd to "loosen your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpless night." There were a few surprises, however -- like "The Warrior" claiming several high-profile awards, and "The Pianist" grabbing top honors over "Chicago" or "The Hours." One highlight was Meryl Streep reading an acceptance speech for absent screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, and accidentally saying she'd like to "spank" Spike Jonze. Fry later remarked that it's a good thing she wasn't trying to thank William Jonze (we'll let you figure out that joke on your own). The only low-point of the evening is when Buzz didn't win some free Virgin Atlantic tickets in the raffle.
GETTING 'HORN'Y: Suki Hawley and Michael Galinksy's acclaimed doc "Horns and Halos," picked by indieWIRE as one of the best undistributed films of 2002, will open at Cinema Village in New York today. Party with the filmmakers at 13 (13th and University) after you catch the flick. For details, visit hornsandhalos.com.
DENVER ON THE SEINE: The Starz FilmCenter at the University of Colorado at Denver will host famed French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier from March 2-4. Tavernier will screen and discuss "Safe Conduct" and "It All Starts Today." For details, visit www.starzfilmcenter.com.
ORANGE CRUSH: Lot 47's Jared Abbott, already a superstar in our book, is heading in front of the camera as he starts acting in "Code: Orange," Tony Phillips' indie flick starring Cyndi Lauper, Justin Bond, Amanda Lepore, Sylvia Miles, and others. Abbott informs us that it's about "the gay hanky code AND terrorism." Yes folks, look for the orange "anything goes" handkerchief plus an important appearance of duct tape.
WINNERS: The Sundance Institute announced that Doug Sadler's "Swimmers" has won the annual Producers Club of Maryland fellowship. The prize includes a $10,000 cash award. "Swimmers" is about a young girl growing up in a small Maryland fishing town. In other news, the Roy W. Dean Los Angeles Film Grant was awarded to Faun Kime for her documentary "The Tomato Effect." Her film studies the medical controversy over Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
QUOTABLE: "I thought, well, we did this very good film, so thank you for acknowledging it, but don't assume that you have changed my professional life." Frances McDormand tells the New Yorker about how she felt after her Oscar win for "Fargo."