The woman whom famed director Roman Polanski raped 30 years ago made a rare appearance on Tuesday night. Samantha Geimer, now 45, came to the premiere of Marina Zenovich’s "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," with her husband and her mother.
Polanski was convicted of the statutory rape of Geimer; the crime occurred when she was 13 and they were at Jack Nicholson’s house in the Hollywood Hills.
I must say that Geimer, whom I interviewed and corresponded with last back in 2003, is a courageous woman. Now the mother of three grown sons, she has supported Zenovich’s campaign to get to the truth of what happened to Polanski in Judge Laurence Rittenband's Los Angeles courtroom in 1978.
During the trial, Polanski was jailed for 42 days. When it became clear that the judge wanted to "get" him, the Oscar-winning director of "Chinatown" and "Rosemary’s Baby" fled the U.S. for France and never returned.
In 2003, when Polanski’s "The Pianist" was headed for Oscar nominations, Geimer briefly reappeared in the news and said she forgave him and asked Hollywood to as well. Polanski won Best Director for the extraordinary Holocaust memoir.
Geimer reappeared Tuesday night from her home in Hawaii, but only tentatively. She was introduced at the HBO screening, but at the swanky party following in The Plaza Hotel’s ballroom, she told me she was a little nervous and preferred to stay in a corner away from the numerous celebrities.
And numerous they were: 25 famous directors hosted the screening and dinner to show support for Polanski. Some, like Lasse Hallstrom and Barry Levinson, had never before met. Also among the directors in the room were Sidney Lumet; Taylor Hackford; Julian Schnabel; Bob Balaban; Julie Taymor; Griffin Dunne; Paul Haggis; Doug Liman; Shari Springer Berman and Rob Pulcini; Bennett Miller; Whit Stillman; and the famed Stanley Donen.
They were in addition to the truly star-studded group that turned out for the HBO-Weinstein Co. party, including HBO’s Sheila Nevins; Dustin Hoffman with wife, Lisa, and their grown kids Jake and Becky; Alec Baldwin; Regis and Joy Philbin with daughter Joanna; James Schamus; Leelee Sobieski; Levin Rambin; and Lena Olin (Mrs. Hallstrom).
I’m sure I’m missing someone here, but that’s how good the room was!
Geimer and husband, David, are a lovely, self-effacing, normal American couple. That Samantha and her mother participated in Zenovich’s film is a testament to their bravery. They wanted the record set straight about one of Hollywood’s most infamous and salacious stories. You’ll see them both when "Polanski" plays on HBO on June 6 followed by a theatrical release from ThinkFilms.
Geimer has not spoken to Polanski once in all these years. What would she say to him now if they met? "I’ll bet you wish you never met me," she said is the thought she’s had in her head.
For years, the Geimers were pursued by press in L.A. until finally they moved to Hawaii. Samantha’s life has been relatively calm since then.
She did laugh when we recalled her interviews during the period of "The Pianist."
"People said I was getting paid to speak out then," she said, and shook her head. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
"I just wanted to do it, and put the whole thing behind me," she said. Tuesday night was her one and only appearance. She won’t be going with Zenovich to the Cannes Film Festival next week. She and her husband have a small business they have to go home to. This should be the end of their 15 minutes of fame.
But here's a hot a piece of news: Polanski will be attending the Cannes Film Festival. He will attend the premiere of the documentary. This should be the biggest event at Cannes, maybe bigger than "Indiana Jones"!
Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, aka The Police, made a couple of announcements Tuesday at a press conference in Times Square with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Big news: Their last-ever show will be in New York this August following the end of their yearlong record-setting tour proper at Jones Beach, Long Island. The show will not be in Central Park, but "indoors." That means Madison Square Garden -- let’s not kid ourselves.
The show will be a fundraiser with proceeds benefiting the production of arts programming for public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW New York. How cool is that? And, not announced: I believe there will be a plot twist surrounding that show. Stay tuned.
Second, the group is donating $1 million to Bloomberg's MillionTreesNYC initiative — a gift the city will match — to plant trees all over New York City. That means a total donation to New York City that could equal $2 million.
No one has to do this, no one asked them to do this. But The Police have had a long association with New York, and they thought this would be the right thing to do.
At the press conference, questions were fielded. Of course, the first one was about the completely erroneous New York Post story from Sunday about the Rainforest Foundation.
Sting, no fool he, was ready with a very detailed response that he read aloud. It follows an evaluation from a highly respected accountant, who issued this opinion:
"The Post quite correctly stated that in 2006 The Foundation grossed $2,156,989 and spent only $887,374 on programs; however, they clearly failed to state two important points.
"1. The cost of raising the $2,156,989 was $899,584 consisting of ordinary and necessary show costs quite consistent with putting on a first-class event at Carnegie Hall.
"2. The retention of $649,165 is quite consistent with an organization which does major fundraising once every two years. If you look at 2007 (which The Post conveniently did not report) The Foundation earned only $163,000 but spent $1,050,144 on programs.
"The foundation’s ability to spend needed funds in years with no major fundraising events is made possible only by creating a reserve in the years of large fundraisers. There is no charitable organization in the world that does not build up an endowment from which to draw in the lean years.
"The Post either has no idea of the expenses involved in producing a major music event (even when the artists are not paid) or they simply failed to look at any two-year period of The Foundation, which would clearly show that virtually all of the excess funds raised are spent on programs. It was very shortsighted and, obviously intentionally biased.
"The numbers are quite simple. Over the two years ended 12/31/07, The Foundation raised in donations about $2,200,000 and spent on programs over $1,900,000. With expenses of over $800,000 they actually had to dip into their reserves in order to fund their programs."
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu likes music, and he even gets in a good dance now and then. What’s his favorite? "I like Beethoven, loud," he told me Tuesday morning.
The occasion was the launch of a fledgling Web site that may change the whole world of downloading. Canadian Steven Nowack presented his SOS Records to the international press. He has a unique idea: free downloading supported by ad revenue.
The first artists on his Web site include R&B star Mario Winans, Billboard magazine-anointed hot singer Naomi Striemer and Senegalese sensation Idrissa Diop, a protégé of Carlos Santana. Striemer and Diop gave walloping live performances at the press conference, with Diop doing a song about Nelson Mandela called "Nobel Prize." Tutu got into the groove and danced along.
In weeks to come, Nowack says, a huge amount of content will be added as deals are worked out with established artists who don’t have connections to major labels.
But the more interesting part of SOS Records’ site will be a forum for unsigned new artists. They’ll be able to work with famous producers, such as Winans, in an unprecedented interactive showcase. Singers, songwriters and producers will be able to upload their music onto the site and collaborate with mentors. It’s a unique idea, and one that should catch on quickly.
This is a project we’ll be watching with much interest!
Former President Jimmy Carter joins Faith Salie Wednesday at 8 p.m. on her Fair Game show on WNYC-AM 820. The subject is his late mother, Miz Lillian, whom Carter writes about in his new book, "A Remarkable Mother," as "the most influential woman in my life." ...
Madonna’s "Hard Candy" came in at 283,000 copies — far fewer than Mariah Carey’s debut and substantially down from her previous releases. ...
Since our first review of "Sex and the City" on Monday, people keep insisting to me that someone dies in the movie. I think this is some kind of urban myth. Sheep were sheared, yaks were combed and heels were sharpened but no one passed into the great fashion heaven as far as I could tell. ...