I don't know how many contributors to the Huffington Post belong to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, but I am certain that no member of AMPAS (the Oscars) writes more regularly for it than me, with several posts a week for the past two years. So I am privileged to be able to report to you on the past weekend of exciting events sponsored by Paramount Pictures in honor of their various Golden Globe entries, from Hugo to Young Adult, from The Adventures of Tintin to Puss in Boots and Rango. The studio is beginning to celebrate its 100th anniversary, and we will report further on it from time to time. The fact that I produced a successful film for Paramount some years ago, Lady Sings The Blues (Diana Ross playing Billie Holiday), was part of the reason that I was invited to attend the studio blowout on Friday evening and then the posh Saturday luncheon at the Hotel Bel Air for Marty Scorsese. The Friday party was on stages 6 and 7, where we had filmed many of the musical numbers for my movie. The latter event saw the elite of Hollywood attend a place-carded lunch in honor of the director of Hugo hosted by Paramount Chairman Brad Grey and Scorsese's close friend, Robert DeNiro. Of course I had my trusty Canon PowerShot S95 with me, so you can see the film folk at their most unguarded best. My recent HuffPost about Charlize Theron's Young Adult chronicled my admiration for this biting, darkly comic portrayal of a woman in free fall, but I am also a fan of Scorsese's remarkable Hugo, and I must suggest that you see it in its 3D glory in a theatre. It reflects the director's commitment to the glories of filmmaking and its history.
At the Friday evening party at the studio, I had an opportunity to speak to Jane Fonda about her new book, Prime Time, which I have just read and am digesting before writing a commentary on it. We discussed her conclusion that the last third of your life can be the best, and she smiled broadly as she told me how happy she is at this period. "I'm now 73, as active as ever, and in love with a wonderful man." It happens that her beau is one of my oldest friends, music man Richard Perry, and it was a delight to see them together. At Saturday's lunch, Quincy Jones noticed the pin I was wearing on my lapel, a reproduction of the Henry Mancini stamp, and we both reminisced abut how much we miss the great composer. Paramount Chair Brad Grey and I told Sammy Davis stories, and I informed him that I had been Sammy's press agent in the 50s, when the song-and-dance genius starred in Broadway's Mr. Wonderful. Brad said that he had only met Sammy at the end of his life, and he was obsessed with hearing about him. I promised to collect some untold stories about my friend and would pass them on to him.
I connected with actress Barbara Hershey and we spoke about her sterling performance in last year's The Black Swan. Barbara is as lovely as ever, as you will see from her picture. I greeted producer Harvey Weinstein and wished him well on his nominated film, The Actor. I spent twelve years at Miramax working with Harvey and brother Bob on trying to remake the classic Bell, Book and Candle (Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak), which is still my personal obsession. As a sometimes food/restaurant critic, I must comment on the food at both Paramount events. Friday's party was catered by Alan Jackson, and it was munificent, stations set up all over the sound stage. Never had so many hors d'oeuvres been consumed by so many. The Saturday lunch at the Hotel Bel Air was provided by their food maven, Wolfgang Puck, and all agreed that it was absolutely delicious. A Winter Salad of black truffles, pomegranates, pears and persimmons was followed by a choice of French Sea Bass (Loup de Mer) or 35-day dry-aged Prime Sirloin Steak. (I had the fish, and it was fabulous, skin-on and moist, with caramelized cauliflower). Dessert was a Dark Chocolate Pot de Crème, with espresso ice cream. No dinner for me that night.
Director Steven Spielberg thanked Brad Grey and Paramount for their participation in his win for The Adventures of Tintin. But the most wonderful surprise of the evening was Marty Scorsese's win for directing Paramount's Hugo. The Oscars are coming, so stay tuned here for more of Hollywood's inside story.
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