Back in 1970, Robert Evans ruled Paramount Pictures. Under his regime, the studio made the now-classic Godfather movies with Francis Ford Coppola, Love Story (Evans even married star Ali McGraw), and dozens of other memorable movies. It was the last studio, and he was the last mogul.
Now Evans' story is told in a documentary based on his autobiography of the same name, The Kid Stays in the Picture. I announced this scoop during Oscar week 2000, when documentary makers Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein — then nominated for On the Ropes — told me how their idea had almost been taken from them. Evans had already agreed to make the movie with them when Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter swept in with USA Films honcho Barry Diller's moola. He wanted to make the movie. After some haggling, all sides agreed to work together. Now, The Kid Stays in the Picture is the most pre-screened movie in history. Everyone's seen it but the public.
Here in Cannes, Evans made a fast cameo appearance for the big premiere on Monday night. He had almost not made it, claiming that he'd gotten a bad flu bug in New York following the Tribeca Film Festival. But Jack Nicholson sent his private plane, and Evans arrived here with his entourage, etc. It was quite a scene.
At the dinner following the screening, Evans entered the room to the strains of theme from The Godfather. (I often wonder how Coppola feels about so many people taking credit for his movies, but c'est la vie, c'est la guerre.)
Evans was accompanied by a lot of beautiful people, as well as well as his famous financial whiz brother Charles. Still recovering from a stroke a couple of years ago, he requires assistance when walking — more like help steering. He looks the same as ever, though — tinted aviator shades, shaggy hair cut a la Warren Beatty in Shampoo, a print shirt open three buttons. It's Malibu, it's 1972. It's swinging, baby.
"I'm coming to New York this summer all summer," he told me. "I'm producing a picture. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days." It will be like the old days. Donald Petrie, son of his long time pal Daniel Petrie, will direct. And, of course, Paramount is the studio. Evans's last few projects have been famously bad: The Out of Towners (with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn), The Saint, Sliver, The Phantom, Jade, The Two Jakes.
His last talked-about movie was a famous flop called The Cotton Club, which manifested a real life murder trial that almost ruined Evans's life. But Evans is forever, you see. He is the rebuke to F. Scott Fitzgerald's proclamation that American lives have no second acts. He is in his fourth, at least — because in Hollywood, everyone has sequels.
The Kid Stays in the Picture opens July 27. It will be a Robert Evans summer in New York. It's gonna be great!
P.S.: At the USA/Universal/Focus party for Evans, studio president Barry Diller held court with his royal wife, Diane von Furstenberg. Diller, a late bloomer in his own mind, started out at Paramount with Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Evans, but is the last to run his own studio. He spent a good deal of the evening chewing the ear off Universal president Ron Meyers, telling him — most volubly — -stories of his great Paramount days and the company's famous former owner, Charles Bludhorn.
Meyers took it like a man. Diller, who now rules the roost, grinned from ear to ear.
Also at the Evans soiree were the new heads of what will be Focus Films (formerly USA Films — are you following this?), James Schamus and David Linde. Schamus is someone everyone in the film biz loves. He's the writer of The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger. He's the first writer- head of studio! Fitzgerald must be having a martini wherever he is, toasting this unusual development!
People are still talking about Sharon Stone's red carpet moment before the Gangs of New York premiere. Looking stunning in a sky blue stretchy outfit that accentuated her unbelievable figure, Stone flounced, pranced, mugged, whirled, dervished and nearly did a back flip for the paparazzi. She was possibly unaware that all of this was being broadcast into the theater on the main screen for the audience awaiting the screening. Stone's carrying on was met with applause, cat calls, laughter, and clucking. "That's not the way jurors are supposed to behave!" was the opinion of many. But Sharon Stone has never done anything she was supposed to. That's what makes her a star, friends.