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Company Town | REPORT FROM CANNES

Rooms With a View : Cannes Insiders Know Nearby Hotel du Cap Is the Place to Stay

May 14, 1996|MARK SAYLOR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CANNES, France — While movies are screened, bought and sold in the theaters and grand hotels that line the topless beaches of Cannes proper, some say the real action is 15 miles away at the stately Hotel du Cap, a former chateau in Antibes.

Here is where many of the top executives and stars congregate, only occasionally venturing into the crowds and bustle of the festival.

Gregory Coote, president of Village Roadshow Pictures, said the hotel is so enticing that it's hard to drag himself away to do business in town.

The hotel sits at the tip of a cape in the midst of a 22-acre park complete with clay tennis courts. From the restaurant along the rocky shoreline, the pool looks as if it drops off directly into the sea, and indeed there are diving boards into the Mediterranean.

Such beauty comes at a price. Most of the 130 rooms are $500 to $1,000 a night, more for the suites. And by the way, no credit cards or checks. All bills must be paid in cash.

During the festival, the rooms are coveted. One entertainment executive had to cancel his reservation when his plans changed at the last minute. He called a friend staying at the hotel and asked him to give $2,000 cash to the manager so there would be no hard feelings and he could book a room in the future.

On Monday afternoon, lunch at the hotel's Eden Roc restaurant, producer Joel Silver sat at an outdoor table with Brian Grazer, chairman of Imagine films. Actor Dolph Lundgren sat nearby.

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Harvey Weinstein, chairman of Miramax, wandered around the deck and shook some hands. Bob Dowling, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, and Robert Lantos, chairman of Alliance Communications, were also on the deck. Castle Rock President Martin Shafer ate inside.

Producer Leslie Greif and his father, music impresario George Greif, shared a table with ITC Entertainment Chairman Jules Haimovitz.

Stephen Unger, managing director of executive search firm Spencer Stuart, made the rounds before rejoining his wife, Kathleen, and a newspaper reporter.

Among those staying at the hotel Monday, but not at lunch, were producer Alexander Salkind ("Superman"), PolyGram Filmed Entertainment President Michael Kuhn and Interscope Films Chairman Ted Field. Dustin Hoffman stayed at the hotel earlier in the week.

Sushi Business: Stephen Unger, the search firm executive, breezed into town Sunday evening, went to a cocktail party and paid for his trip.

Demonstrating one way business is conducted at the international film festival here, Unger attended the Toho-Towa party, an exclusive event hosted by one of Japan's largest movie distributors.

Many of the industry's top executives come, among other reasons, because the Japanese company flies in top sushi chefs from Paris and the food is regarded as perhaps the best of any festival party.

Unger met the chief of a company in search of a financial officer. In a few minutes chatting at the party, Unger had a new client.

"That paid for my plane ticket and my hotel room," he said.

More and More Product: Joel Silver, one of Hollywood's most prolific producers of big-budget action pictures, announced Monday that he and director Richard Donner are forming a company to produce five lower-budget action films over the next two years.

The films will be financed by several companies that will divide the distribution rights to the films, including HBO for pay television, Kushner-Locke Co. for international distribution and Republic Pictures for home video.

The deal is unusual in that HBO will have the right to premiere the films in the United States before they are released theatrically. Only a few films have successfully moved to theatrical release after pay television viewing, which may explain why a deal for domestic release has yet to be worked out.

HBO Chairman Jeffrey Bewkes appeared at the breakfast news conference at the Carlton Hotel with Gregory Cascante, chief executive of Kushner-Locke International. Bewkes said he regarded the HBO premiere as a "preview" that would help build audiences for the movies in theaters.

Silver's announcement follows by a few days the announcement here by Dustin Hoffman that he would be producing a slate of lower-budget films financed by Village Roadshow Productions.

Silver and Donner have collaborated on the "Lethal Weapon" series as well as the HBO series "Tales From the Crypt." In all, Silver has produced 27 films, including the hugely successful "Die Hard" series.

Unlike Hoffman, who criticized the major studios for showing little regard for the kinds of films he cares about, Silver stressed that his interest in making independent films does not stem from any disenchantment with the major studio system.

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He said he will continue to produce large-budget action films under his deal with Warner Bros. (He expects Mel Gibson to agree to do another in the "Lethal Weapon" series, for example.)

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