Bill Murray is a big star, but not so big that he didn't have to take the subway to the Gotham Awards in New York City last night.
As he described it to the star-studded A-list audience at Chelsea Piers, where the awards dinner was given, Murray got caught in Midtown gridlock surrounding the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Apparently he'd driven into the city from his upstate New York home and dropped friends off at 66th St. and Park Avenue. Somehow — it's unclear how he got into the tree mess — he wound up around 52nd St. He parked on 46th St., but by then he realized the temperature had dropped significantly and he was wearing shorts.
Why Murray was wearing shorts when he knew he was supposed to introduce director Jim Jarmusch at the Gotham Awards is a question we may never get answered. All you have to know is that he ran into Saks, directly across from the tree-lighting ceremony, and bought a lovely pair of slacks. With no time to get them hemmed, he put them on and wore them pinned up from the inside.
From Saks, Murray got onto the E train at 53rd and Fifth, which is where trouble started.
"People get hammered now to watch the tree lighting," he said.
Fans followed him to the train station, and when he didn't respond to them, they started yelling epithets down the stairwell.
"They echoed," he said, dryly.
He rode the E train, which he claimed to never have been on before, to 23rd St. and Eighth Avenue. Since Chelsea Piers is several blocks west of that and more inaccessible than the Cloisters, Murray then got a cab so he could cross the West Side Highway and make the show.
His recitation of these events served as a devastatingly comic monologue last night before he actually did introduce Jarmusch, who directed him in this year's excellent "Broken Flowers" and last year's quirky vignette film "Coffee and Cigarettes" (I hope Murray and "Flowers" are not forgotten by Oscar voters, but so far it doesn't look good).
The pants, he said, are a 43 inseam, unhemmed, in case anyone wants them.
You'll be able to see his whole account of the story when IFC broadcasts the Gotham Awards later this week.
Among the many stars who came, got awards, or were surprised they didn't: "Hustle and Flow"'s emerging superstar Terrence Howard, who lost the Breakthrough Performance prize to "Junebug"'s delightful Amy Adams; "Capote" director Bennett Miller, who's on his way to the Oscars with wins for directing and Best Feature; plus Marcia Gay Harden, Matthew Modine, Maria Bello, Jeff Daniels, Lili Taylor, Steve Buscemi, Lynn Whitfield, Jesse L. Martin, Fisher Stevens, the effervescent Judy Greer (she's a hoot — and beautiful), directors Mira Nair and David Cronenberg and the new 15-year-old star of "The New World," Q'Orianka Kilcher.
Matt Dillon and Jim Jarmusch each got awards for their bodies of work. Kyra Sedgwick did a great job as host of the evening and the show. "Murderball," the sensational non-fiction film about wheelchair-bound rugby, won Best Documentary, which should take it to the Oscars as well. Mark Urman's Think Films pulled off that coup.
The Gotham Awards didn't start taping the show part until 9 p.m., which meant there was a 90-minute dinner period after cocktails. I have never seen so much schmoozing in my life!
Every indie movie maker or human being associated with such matters was in the room, from Bingham Ray, who's on his way to starting a new company, to Sony Pictures Classics's dynamic duo Michael Barker and Tom Bernard. Picturehouse (formerly Fine Line) was well represented, and the Focus Features team of James Schamus, David Linde and John Lyons was crowing over Ang Lee's nearly released gay cowboy romance, "Brokeback Mountain."
Absent last night, for the first time in years: Harvey Weinstein, who was in Toronto overseeing a film shoot. He sent his crack staff, even though Weinstein Company didn't have any films or actors in the mix this year.
Weinstein needn't worry about awards this year. He's got at least two Best Actress nominees (Felicity Huffman and Judi Dench), one supporting actress (Fionnula Flanagan), a possible Best Picture ("Mrs. Henderson Presents"), writing awards ("Transamerica," "Mrs. Henderson," "Proof") and a lot more!
Meanwhile, the Miramax table was occupied by the new Disney-designed FauxMiramax staff, led by the well liked Daniel Battsek and a bunch of people no one's ever seen before. Maybe they should call it MickeyMax. Or better yet: Minnie-Max. Or Mini-Max.
Well, the word from Hollywood this morning is that Nicole Kidman is engaged to country star Keith Urban.
Kidman has been sporting a rock on her engagement finger, yet has been mum on the whole deal. I'm told the engagement is on, and this is good news for one of my favorite people in the unreal world of make-believe.
Urban, about whom I know nothing, is a country star who made an impressive appearance on the Country Music Association Awards show last month. He's Australian, so he and Nicole will have something in common. Aside from the fact that she's an Oscar winner and he's a big singing star, they should have a fairly normal marriage.
Hopefully, their relationship will turn out better than a similar one between Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney. We all know how that worked out.
Kidman deserves a little happiness. I think since the day Tom Cruise filed for divorce, she's had a vastly unpleasant time of it. Her dalliance with Lenny Kravitz didn't help matters.
Her forthcoming marriage should make for an interesting situation with Cruise, his pregnant girlfriend Katie Holmes and the two kids Tom and Nicole adopted. Nicole by now has explained Scientology to Urban and the why and how of her kids being educated in it 24/7.
Meantime, Park City, Utah is bracing for Hurricane Jennifer.
Jennifer Aniston's new comedy, "Friends With Money," has been slated to open the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19. If the recent premiere of Aniston's "Derailed" was any indicator, Sundance is in for a paparazzi storm the likes of which they cannot imagine.
Nicole Holofcener directed "Friends With Money," and Aniston is one of the producers. Frances McDormand and Catherine Keener — two of this year's likely Best Supporting Actresses — and Joan Cusack co-star.
Other stars who'll be coming to Sundance late next month include Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, Jessica Lange, Josh Hartnett and possibly the aforementioned pregnant Katie Holmes, who's one of the actors in "Thank You for Smoking."
Our colleague, Cindy Adams, the hardest working reporter in New York, has been writing dispatches this week from Amsterdam. You can read them on www.newyorkpost.com. It's worth downloading the whole collection by clicking on the "Last 7 Days" button on the lower left of the Web site's front page.
Cindy does not get enough credit as a sterling and hilarious writer. Her observations, including her whole piece on Rembrandt, are award-worthy.
Carly Simon performed a song written by Sen. Orrin Hatch on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., during her show. Hatch was there, grinning like a Cheshire cat. The two have become friends since Carly appealed to Hatch to help her friend, incarcerated musician John Forte, whom Carly and others feel has gotten a raw deal. It certainly seems that way.
And thanks to Page Six of the New York Post for picking up our story about David H. Brooks. Worse than anything else is the fact that Brooks may be selling the Army and police forces faulty bullet-proof vests. If true, it's the height of not only arrogance, but also cynicism in its worst form. Shame!