More than 50 guards, a pack of bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors added grit to the glitz at one of the first major entertainment industry galas since the terrorist attacks, the American Cinematheque Awards on Sunday night. Everyone, from industry heavyweights to guests paying $500-plus to attend, was searched as they entered the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom.
Guests Cuba Gooding Jr. and producer Jerry Bruckheimer mused over Hollywood's post-attack sensitivity. "You have to be very conscious of the atmosphere in America," Gooding said. "You want to avoid exploitative shots."
Bruckheimer, who produced "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon," acknowledged that his upcoming film, "Black Hawk Down," is "a tough movie." (Directed by Ridley Scott and due out next year, it is the movie adaptation of Mark Bowden's novel, detailing the 1993 military operation in Somalia that claimed 18 American lives.)
Bruckheimer didn't seem too worried about offending patriotic sensibilities. "My job as a filmmaker is to entertain," he said.
Producer Mike Medavoy said the discussion in Hollywood these days echoes those during the Vietnam War. "People are kind of feeling their way around," he said. Whether the entertainment industry will change, "is a little too early to tell," he added. .
Medavoy went on to praise Nicolas Cage, the honoree of the evening, whose career wound from "Valley Girl" to "Leaving Las Vegas." Cage, he said, is an "actor's actor."
"Fearless," was how Samuel L. Jackson described Cage. But Elisabeth Shue paid him the highest compliment. "He is probably the one person I'd show up at an event like this for."
Ready for Its Close-Up?
Just nine days before its grand opening, construction dust clouded the Hollywood & Highland project, the $615-million Las Vegas-scale tourist destination best known as the future home of the Academy Awards.
Men wearing hard hats and denims hammered away inside the Bebe and Swarovski boutiques Friday as Lee Wagman, TrizecHahn Development Corp. president, led visitors through what he says "will come to stand for what Hollywood--the idea--is."
Since its 1998 groundbreaking, the project has weathered several setbacks.
The planned March 2001 opening came and went as modifications were made on the Kodak Theatre. Developers added underground cable tunnels to connect satellite trucks to their indoor cameras, and changed seating to give Oscar nominees quicker access to the stage.
Then, in October 2000, one of the project's major tenants, Frederick's of Hollywood, filed for bankruptcy.
But that's all behind us now. Just look at the billboards advertising the project around town. They feature young people with lip gloss, tousled hairstyles, blue-tinted sunglasses and faux fur--people who, we assume, must be glamorous L.A. hipsters. It is, after all,\o7 the idea\f7 of Hollywood that we're after, right?
Meanwhile, in real life, Nick and Jim Colachis, former owners of Vertigo in downtown Los Angeles, have partnered with Tod and Kenny Griswold, owners of Henry O's in Park City, Utah, to develop The Highlands, a 28,000-square-foot megaclub on the fourth and fifth floors of Hollywood & Highland.
Featuring two nightclubs, three restaurants, a stage and two giant patios that on a clear day offer views to the Pacific Ocean, Highlands opens in December, and party planners are scrambling to book the place for Christmas events. Motorola and Flaunt magazine already have reservations.
Police Chief Bernard C. Parks told reporters Friday he won't accept L.A. Councilman Dennis Zine's apology for nicknaming him "Osama bin Parks." Zine's comment came after a dispute between the two over the kinds of lapel pins officers can wear on their uniforms.
Parks was not available for comment, but an LAPD spokesman said the chief would not accept the apology because he believed Zine's comment was made intentionally.
Comedy writer Merrill Markoe is so nervous about her first novel that she has kept it closely under wraps. But Suzanne Wickham, who handles hype for Random House, gave it unequivocal praise when we met the two at a recent PEN event at the Biltmore Hotel.
"It's a perfect book," said Wickham. "Yeah, it's right up there with Tolstoy," retorted Markoe.
The novel, scheduled to come out in February, has an expletive in the title that cannot be printed. (The expurgated version? "It's My ... Birthday.")
Markoe, a former head writer for David Letterman and the dog fanatic who created Stupid Pet Tricks, said she usually writes a dozen pages of comedy at a time. Her novel is 220 pages.
"It's like a musician who writes pop songs deciding to write a symphony," she said. Her hope for the book, she said, is that "it isn't a series of pop songs strung together, pretending to be a symphony."
Markoe was among the guests at PEN's 11th Annual Literary Awards festival last week honoring, among others, Nigerian writer Chris Abani and Chinese writer Xu Wenli.