The director of "Birdman" twice got up to accept an Oscar and twice the director thanked...Brad Weston! The people at the Oscar-watching party which I attended turned to me and asked if he was any relation....and I rather proudly revealed that he was my nephew. Brad, my brother Stan's son, has been President of New Regency Films since he was brought aboard there in 2011 by its Chairman, Arnon Milchan. Before that, Brad was President of Paramount Pictures, and I have written here on Huffington that while there he put into production their very successful franchise film, G.I Joe. But what almost no one knew was that his father, my brother Stan, had actually invented G.I. Joe in 1964. Yes, he created the world's most popular 'toy' and sold it to Hassenfeld/Hasbro shortly thereafter. How quixotic that his son should make it a huge film event so many years later. Brad had worked in the trenches of the film industry for many years, first for low-budget filmmaker Avi Lerner and then several years working for and watching Bob Weinstein at Dimension Films. He is a very retiring, somewhat shy but fiercely independent young man, given to daily runs and a watchful diet. Since he joined New Regency at its Fox Searchlight home, it has become much more filmmaker-friendly, and he brought with him a handful of valuable associations. (Regency has first-look deals with several top directors, including David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky. They co-financed the latter's 'Gone Girl.') Brad Pitt's Plan B Production has a deal there, and it was because of that close relationship with Weston that 12 Years A Slave was made there and went on to win last year's Best Picture Oscar.
The director of Birdman, Alejandro G. Inarritu, told The Hollywood Reporter today how the picture came to be: "In the fall of 2012, the director and Regency President-CEO Brad Weston settled into a table at West Hollywood's Ago. They were at their wit's end.....Leonardo DiCaprio has just signed to do Scorsese's 'The Wolf of Wall Street" instead of a picture, "The Revenant," which they had planned at Fox Searchlight. At the lunch Inarritu brought up a script he'd been working on forever. As Brad remembers it: "He gave it to us and Searchlght at the same time, and we read it within 24 hours. It was 'Birdman,' recalls Weston, "and it was awesome. We committed to make it immediately for just north of $16 million." Interestingly, Inarritu has just wrapped production on that DiCaprio-starrer, The Revenant, which may well be a strong contender at next year's Oscar ceremony. (It's a revenge story set in 1842 in the deep woods, when a wounded trapper is left for dead by his companions, recovers, and seeks out the men who betrayed him.)
Between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight's co-presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula commanded the evening with four Oscars for each picture. (I am proud to say that at Huffington we ran the earliest rave reviews for both films. And I was an early, loud proponent of Eddie Redmayne for his Stephan Hawkins portrayal in "The Theory of Everything." I do regret that, as a member of the Academy since 1972, I was not able to persuade my fellow AMPAS members to include the "Selma" director, Ava Duvarney, as a candidate...an incident I deeply regret.) Many people at my party questioned the omission of Joan Rivers from the In Memorium segment, and I think I was sympathetic to that, although I vividly remember Joan's major film effort, a 1975-disaster called "Rabbit Test" which starred Bllly Crystal as a guy who gets pregnant. It was written by my friend Jay Reddich, and it quickly, justifiably disappeared. Which may explain why she was omitted.
The Vanity Fair Oscar Party was held at a new venue alongside the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Beverly Hills City Hall. A close friend and noted actress, who attended but chooses to remain anonymous, gave me some notes and pictures this morning. She said that the magazine's editor, Graydon Carter, had been determined to winnow down the attendance list (no Kim Kardashian and kin) ...but in the end she said it was as crowded and as much fun as ever. The tradition of serving In-n-Out Burgers from their truck was followed. She had a conversation with Reese Witherspoon about her fight against 'red carpet sexism,' and the actress-star of Wild said she just was tired of the usual 'what are you wearing' question'. An unexpected guest was Monica Lewinsky, but my source learned that Graydon invited her after she wrote an article for the magazine in June of last year about the cultureof humiliation.) She told me that author Jackie Collins, was sitting in the next booth with her sister, Joan. Joan will be receiving her Damehood at Buckingham Palace next month.Jackie, who got her OBE from Queen Elizabeth in 2013, and I are working vigorously to bring her bestselling book, The Love Killers, to the screen...so who knows, one day soon we may both be up there. Wouldn't that be a hoot.
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