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CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

Weinstein defends `Grindhouse' split

May 23, 2007|Nancy Tartaglione-Vialatte | Special to The Times

CANNES, FRANCE — Quentin Tarantino would have been proud had he been in the melee of journalists vying for a spot at his "Death Proof" news conference on Tuesday. The previous one, for Julian Schnabel's film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," also in competition, ran well past the normal 30-minute allotment, which created a scrum outside the meeting room. Members of the media clawed their way in when the "Diving Bell" team finally gave way.

Once inside, reporters were treated to the typically exuberant Tarantino, who entered and joked, "Bonjour ... et au revoir," before settling in with cast members, including Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson and Rose McGowan. Director Robert Rodriguez, whose "Planet Terror" ran together with "Death Proof" in the double-billed feature "Grindhouse" in the U.S., lingered on the sidelines with the films' producer, Harvey Weinstein.

When "Grindhouse" was released in the U.S., it failed to reach the hoped-for box office. Now the two features are being released as stand-alone films in new versions. At least one person, however, is not all that happy about it.

When the actors on the dais were asked what they thought of the new version, all said they hadn't seen it yet. Russell added that "Goldie hasn't seen it yet," referring to his longtime partner, Goldie Hawn (who incidentally hosted a drinks party Monday evening on a yacht in Cannes). Russell then went on to say, "I'm disappointed for the audience that they won't get the whole 'Grindhouse' experience. The films live by themselves, but my prediction is that in 20 years you'll want the whole 'Grindhouse' experience."

Weinstein stepped up to grab the microphone and do a bit of damage control. Regarding reviews that had just emerged in Britain, he said, "Today everyone is saying it was the right decision" to split the films. Audiences will now find more of the "essence of Tarantino and the essence of Rodriguez," he insisted. Further, the Venice Film Festival, Weinstein said, "is crazy for 'Planet Terror.' " He did allow, though, that the new version of "Death Proof" will "dwarf 'Grindhouse,' trust me."

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