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Polanski OKs Film About Trial

Polanski OKs Film About Trial | Sydney Pollack: Good Guy and Great Filmmaker | Sharon Stone Gets the Job Done | Dolce & Gabbana Doesn't Translate; Actress's Grief; More Soap Tragedy; Hamptons Art Alert

Polanski OKs Film About Trial

Director Roman Polanski has finally seen the documentary made about him called “Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

Polanski appeared on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival to hand out the Palme d’Or award for Best Film to the French feature “Entre les Murs.”

Afterwards, I’m told, he spoke at length over lunch in Cannes with director Marina Zenovich, who made the film about his 1978 trial for unlawful sexual contact and engaging in sexual acts with a 13-year-old girl, his subsequent imprisonment and decision to leave the United States.

I’m told that Polanski saw “Wanted and Desired” earlier last week in Paris on DVD. He told Zenovich that he “loved” the movie even though it doesn’t exonerate him. It just impartially lays out the facts of everything that happened. Polanski approves, and may even attend a Paris premiere that’s being planned.

HBO is airing the documentary on June 9th, followed by a theatrical release by ThinkFilms. The Weinstein Company will distribute it throughout Europe.

Polanski, who despite the 1978 trial has since won an Oscar for Best Director ("The Pianist," 2003), also told Harvey Weinstein and PR maven Peggy Siegal that he was “deeply touched” by the recent screening in New York hosted by 25 famous directors.

Sydney Pollack: Good Guy and Great Filmmaker

The death of director Sydney Pollack at age 73 comes as a blow tonight. Even though it was widely known that he was ailing, somehow Pollack seemed to hang on. A true gentleman who I don't think had any Hollywood enemies, he will be sorely missed.

Here's something you may not know: When his producing partner, director Anthony Minghella, died suddenly a couple of months ago, Pollack was catalyzed. Even though he was ill, Pollack got out of bed, went to the office at Mirage Productions and called a staff meeting. He didn't want the people who worked for him to think all hope was lost.

Click here for photos of Sydney Pollack.

I've written about this before, but two years ago I had the privilege of sitting with Sydney at a table for four with Regis and Joy Philbin.

It was a dinner at Osteria del Circo for his documentary about architect Frank Gehry. Even though I knew Sydney before that night, it was with the Philbins that we were truly regaled by Pollack about his adventures as a master chef and pilot.

It was a mesmerizing experience to hear him talk about acting in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"; about directing his friend Robert Redford in "Out of Africa," "Electric Horseman" and "Havana"; and so on.

Even though he was a great director and producer, many people will only know Sydney as an actor. He's most famous as Dustin Hoffman's agent in "Tootsie," from the now-classic scene in the old Russian Tea Room.

Just recently he appeared on "The Sopranos" (he killed Johnny Sack in the hospital) and in "Michael Clayton," and right now he's onscreen in "Made of Honor." As an actor he had a refreshing, winning demeanor that conveyed honesty. Even when he played a bad guy, you wanted to be his friend.

Sharon Stone Gets the Job Done

I was a little taken aback by a negative report over the weekend concerning Sharon Stone’s amfAR appearance last Thursday in Cannes.

It’s always bewildering to me when a report is filed by someone who wasn’t in the room. The information is third- or fourth-hand by then, and often conveyed by someone who has an axe to grind.

Each year, Stone comes to Cannes and works a room of over a thousand people in order to raise money for amfAR.

The guests comprise an international crowd. They are wealthy, but have little contact with Hollywood. They don’t get to meet movie stars. Because they are not American and not in the media, they aren’t jaded or snarky. They’re thrilled. They come to see a show. And Stone puts one on.

To not get this is to be naïve about fundraising. Stone’s annual performance at the Cinema Against AIDS dinner is just that… a performance. She gives about 300 percent for four hours, chiding, cajoling, flirting, shocking, doing whatever it takes to wrest funds from the crowd.

Last Thursday night, Sharon raised $2.1 million in the first 15 minutes of the dinner. She is not above a little good-natured humiliation. Can you imagine holding the attention of a thousand people for more than a second? These people are scattered at dinner tables in a huge, dark tent. They’re drinking, gossiping and carrying on -- in several languages.

Stone knows her crowd. When she saw the energy in the room needed a boost she went and sat on Sean Combs’ lap. She said the most outrageous thing she could to jolt the room.

“You spend more that that on crack,” she said to Combs over the mike, while perched on him.

You could hear the room sit up and pay attention.

Obnoxious? Sure. But the total for the night was over $10 million.

And what about reports that the stories she tells are all about her? Those come from not being there.

Stone is effective simply because she personalizes her accounts of meeting children with AIDS. The people in that tent are rich and travel in rarefied circles. Stone is their emissary into a world they know is bad, but one they’re not going to visit. The more she says about how seeing kids with AIDS affected her, the faster the money comes in.

As for Stone claiming that she founded amfAR, that’s just bull hooey. She tells the same story every year, how Mathilde Krim founded it with Elizabeth Taylor, how Sharon filled in one year when Liz couldn’t do the dinner. How utterly ridiculous to think that Stone would claim anything else. She’s the first to raise her hand and donate time, money and energy. How lucky amfAR and AIDS patients are to have her on their side. And believe me, next year in Cannes she’ll raise even more money.

One more thing about Sharon Stone vis-a-vis amfAR: She is incredibly gracious. Madonna came to last Thursday’s dinner to plug her movie. She gave away her handbag, but apparently Versace gave her an even more expensive one to replace it. Madonna has never given money to amfAR from her Ray of Light Foundation, and she didn’t last Thursday. As Stone conducted the auctions, Madonna remained mum. But later Stone had nothing but kind words for Madonna, and would not let her be criticized.

“She gave her time, and she pitched in,” Sharon said. “I’m happy with everything she did.”

Others might not feel the same way, but Stone took the high road. Maybe her critics should too.

Dolce & Gabbana Doesn't Translate; Actress's Grief; More Soap Tragedy; Hamptons Art Alert

The big Dolce & Gabbana party in Cannes last Friday night? It proved that the designers’ names translate from Italian to “dumb and dumber.” What a catastrophe! Yes there were celebs: In the largely under attended VIP area, Kate Hudson made out with Lance Armstrong, Natalie Portman brought rocker Devendra Barnhart. Puffy came and they all “celebrated” Naomi Campbell’s birthday. I did see Kerry Washington briefly. She looked great. But that was it. Anyway, who would know? Restaurant Baoili – hideous to start with — was so overbooked that a riot nearly broke out. The D&G security people even confronted the celebs’ security. Oy vey! It was a frightening, bizarre, rat-you-know-what that had nothing to do with film but said it all about the fashion world trying to cash in on a more respectable event …

Condolences to British actress Natasha McElhone. The beautiful, intelligent 36=year-old daughter of British journalists stars as David Duchovny’s ex wife on “Californication.” She’s also made strong impressions in several good films including “Surviving Picasso.” Last week, McElhone’s husband of a decade, 42-year-old Dr. Martin Kelly, dropped dead of a heart attack. A famous cosmetic surgeon, Kelly was better known for his worldwide charity work than fixing the faces of the wealthy. He and McElhone have two young sons, and she is pregnant with their third child. You can read the actress’ eulogy for her husband here.

…Back in 1991 I wrote about actress Beth Ehlers in Entertainment Weekly as a young star to watch from the CBS soap "Guiding Light." Seventeen years later, she’s leaving the show for a new role on ABC’s “All My Children.” It’s clear she’s been forced out by the producers from Procter & Gamble, who are determined to drive the 71-year-old soap into the ground. Ousting Ehlers — who fits the perfect demo of young mother in her 30s — shows that P&G will be shuttering “GL” soon. What a disrespectful ending for everyone involved …

…Famous artists from Long Island get all the ink. But check out Geri Geremia’s site on Gerigeremia.com. The East Meadow artist was showing her mixed media canvases this weekend at the University Place art show. They’re terrific when you see them in person (and hard to reproduce in photos for the net). Her next stop should be East Hampton. That crowd should be snapping her up in a second …