Published May 19, 2006
Where the heck is Superman? That’s the question being asked at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Rumored to have cost upward of $250 million, Warner Bros.' "Superman Returns" is all about invisible here with roughly six weeks to go before its release.
A Warner spokeswoman told me last night that my worries were unfounded.
"Cannes was never part of our plan," she reassured me. “The movie doesn’t open until June 30. And wait ‘til you see it. It’s wonderful. It’s really spectacular.”
She could be right, of course. "Superman Returns" is directed by Bryan Singer, who made the first two “X-Men” movies hits, and has a final screenplay (after many dozens of versions) by the men who wrote those films.
"Superman" not being on the Croisette doesn’t necessarily mean the movie’s bad. There are plenty of other possible reasons, including not wanting to spend the millions it takes to promote a movie here.
Considering how much Warner has blown on the egregious “Poseidon” and needs to put in other places for the already bloated "Superman," no Cannes may just be a cost-cutting measure.
For example: Yesterday, an independent publicist bemoaned to me that she’d been quoted a price of 3,000 euros to rent a room for two hours so they could serve the equivalent of milk and cookies and introduce a filmmaker to a few important people.
“$5,000?” she said. “Forget it!”
But what makes the absence of "Superman" publicity or promotion here so glaring is the presence of tremendous plugs for other upcoming summer blockbusters.
“Miami Vice,” for example, is represented by a huge wraparound display over the portico of the Hotel Carlton. Dreamworks’ “Over the Hedge” and FOX’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” are both screening here and getting parties.
Not only that, Paramount is putting on the dog, as they used to say, for two key Christmas releases: “Dreamgirls” and “World Trade Center.”
In the next two days, the studio will show footage from both films — 20 minutes from the former, 30 from the latter — designed to tantalize both press and distributors. Paramount is well represented here with lots of eager-to-help publicists, too.
But up on the first floor of the Carlton, where many film companies have housed extensive publicity departments armed with press releases and promotion paraphernalia, there is a strangely foreboding sign attached the to the door of a closed suite: “Warner Bros. publicity office will open on Monday May 23.”
This is a little jarring, considering that the festival began two days ago, and that most everyone else in the business has been here since at least May 17.
It’s not like "Superman Returns" isn’t mentioned here at all. Six narrow, vertical, hard-backed posters, which are also blown up, adorn the front of the Carlton along the high floors.
They are so discreet, though, that Superman looks less like a comic strip live-action adventure and more like a filmed version of George Bernard Shaw's “Man and Superman.”
Smaller versions of the posters are mixed in with those for Warner’s huge disaster, "Poseidon," on the Carlton terrace.
But that’s it. There is no showing of footage, no appearances by the new Superman, Brandon Routh, or Kevin Spacey, the new Lex Luthor.
Where Cannes has always been effectively used to hype huge international commercial releases, Warner Bros. seems to have gone in the other direction and hidden it from the very folks who could give this wildly expensive enterprise a foothold in the market.
And nothing really explains that sign on the suite door. Pretty much everyone else is here, at least a few people from every studio. The only other glaring absentee is Disney. I suppose they’re represented by the new faux-Miramax, which threw an unadvertised cocktail party for itself yesterday afternoon at one of the beach clubs across the Croisette.
When I inquired of the publicist with a guest list what was going on, he replied with maybe the best quote so far of the festival.
“There’s no press and there’s no talent,” he stated (who was I to dispute that claim?) Pause. “Only executives.”
They were no doubt celebrating the release of an English film called “Kinky Boots” that came and went faster from theaters than you could lace up your galoshes.
The new non-Weinstein Miramax has managed to rake in $860,000 so far domestically since “Kinky Boots” was released a month ago. Last fall, during a six-week run, the same movie made $6 million.
Next door to Miramax, Focus Features pulled out all the stops and included no celebrities with the exception of director David Cronenberg.
Reveling in the success of “Brokeback Mountain” and “Pride and Prejudice” this year, Focus — an odd duck of a place — filled their beachside club with several hundred strangers.
“This is a terrible party,” admitted one Focus insider. “The music is terrible and so is the food.”
Paramount chief Brad Grey, who produces “The Sopranos” and has represented countless Hollywood heavyweights, is now in the center of a legal tug of war that could wind up with him invoking his Fifth Amendment rights in nasty depositions.
Thanks to a 5-year-old lawsuit between Grey and movie producer Vincent Bo Zenga over the satire, “Scary Movie,” Grey has managed to edge out both attorney Bert Fields and former agent Michael Ovitz as the three jockey for position in who can get their names out of the Pellicano story with the least damage.
Yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Zenga’s attorney Gregory Dovel filed a strong answer to a motion made by Grey’s attorney’s a couple of weeks ago.
This all stems from articles that appeared here on March 17 and 24: The government’s massive indictment against Anthony Pellicano included the information that during depositions for that “Scary Movie” lawsuit, Pellicano illegally wiretapped and investigated Zenga, members of his family and Dovel.
Zenga went on to lose the actual case. But since the revelations in the February 2006 indictment, he has asked the court to throw out the verdict, bring in the information from the indictment and start again.
Grey, of course, is opposing this. His lawyers essentially argued in their answer a couple of weeks ago that the Pellicano indictment has nothing to do with the fact that Grey won the original case against Zenga over who really produced “Scary Movie” and was entitled to credit and money from it.
Grey’s motion to “stay,” or halt, the discovery of materials in Zenga’s new suit is interesting because of his claim — that prosecutors in the Pellicano case, while still gathering evidence for their case, have handed some of the evidence to Zenga.
The argument is that the government is using Zenga’s case to test their evidence, and that it shouldn’t be allowed.
In his answer, Dovel essentially says that Zenga’s new lawsuit should be able to go forward no matter what’s happening in the U.S. vs. Pellicano.
Dovel writes that in this litigation, Zenga seeks to protect his constitutionally protected right not be subject to an invasion of privacy, and to redress a wrong that strikes at the core of our judicial system.
The judge, who will hear all this in open court on June 1, will have to decide if it matters that Grey is now only considered a “witness” in the Pellicano case and not a more important participant.
Dovel will argue that it’s because Grey is indeed only a witness that Zenga’s case should go forward.
It sounds like a boring legal exercise, but if Grey loses this argument, he could wind up testifying in depositions about his involvement in Pellicano’s wiretapping — and invoking his Fifth Amendment privileges.
Grey’s answer to the Fifth Amendment question is that in their original “Scary Movie” suit, Zenga used the Fifth Amendment many times in order not to answer questions.
That much is true; it’s on the record from the case.
But Dovel’s response is essentially, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” In other words: This is now about Zenga being spied on by Grey, not about what Zenga has done in the past.
Because of this past situation with Zenga, Grey — at least in the court of public opinion — is fast becoming topic No. 1 among Hollywood insiders in the Pellicano saga.
That’s pretty amazing, considering that Pellicano has now had several prominent official fellow indictees in his case, including attorney Terry Christensen. “Die Hard” movie director John McTiernan has already pled guilty to using Pellicano for nefarious purposes.
But Grey, because he’s been elevated to a studio chief’s job since this started, is more interesting.
Fields is considered by wags too old at 78 to go to jail. Ovitz, while young enough, has moved to the side in Hollywood and isn’t an active player. Grey, however, has had a target painted on his side simply by virtue of being the most vulnerable of the trio.
Lately, gossip has swirled that he’s about to step aside or be removed from his post. His possible successors — Jeffrey Katzenberg, Stacey Snider, Lorenzo di Bonaventura — have made for a parlor game.
The latest theory abounding between Melrose and Monaco is that Viacom chief Tom Freston is headed to the West coast soon to take the reigns from Grey and regain some kind of authority.
But Grey’s supporters point out that he wouldn’t be coming to Cannes this weekend to launch so many projects (see above) if that were the case.
Today the ante will be upped here in Cannes as lots of new faces — many of whom are unrelated to film festivals — arrive either for stays on yachts or to take in the party/celebrity quotient.
Billionaire Ronald Perelman should be in before dusk; his yacht is already moored here and he’s planning a big weekend party. The Revlon owner will no doubt be celebrating the premiere of his spokesmodel Halle Berry in “X-Men: The Last Stand”….
Denise Rich and Ivana Trump are each on their way, with parties planned and guest lists being drawn. Their glamour and decadence are much needed at this point after “The Da Vinci Code” cast a pall over the Croisette.…
Festival sponsor Chopard’s big gala tomorrow night is in direct competition with Vanity Fair’s get-together for Al Gore, whose movie is called “An Inconvenient Truth.” But Vanity Fair may find their time and location — the remote Hotel du Cap — inconvenient if guests feel obliged to spend time with a major festival sponsor.…
And in Los Angeles, “Truth” was screened already before a huge A-list crowd the other night including David Duchovny and Garry Shandling, who arrived together in an electric car; and Laura Dern — who urged Gore to run for president again — while her pal Meg Ryan did everything she could to avoid photos, says my source.
Gore told actor Ian McShane that “Deadwood” was his favorite show — you can fill in your own jokes here.
Gore’s other green friends included Sharon Stone, Larry and Laurie David, Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares, Lily Tomlin, Albert Brooks, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Begley Jr. and Jessica Alba, among others.…
But my question: Where in all this “greenery” is the original Hollywood environmentalist, Robert Redford? He was omitted from Vanity Fair’s “green” issue in favor of Gore with actors who are younger but much less important to the cause, like George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
Redford’s whole non-acting career has been devoted to environmental issues, and he’s been an outspoken critic of the government and an effective activist.
“Green” is often used as a synonym for “inexperienced,” you know. And some are called “green with envy.” Perhaps Redford, a white knight to many, is simply the wrong color.…
"The Da Vinci Code" continues to make waves everywhere. Indeed, the Archbishop of Cannes may have liked the movie, but we implied that he was Roman Catholic. He is Russian Orthodox, however, which is probably why he didn't mind the film. Our apologies to anyone who may have been offended...