I have no idea why I am here, but I am at the 54th Cannes Film Festival. (Which for reader Mr. L in Uzbekistan is on the French Riviera, France. ‘We are Serious and Fun’ is this column’s credo.)
Everybody in this town is a producer looking to hit it big.
I hadn’t been here more than fifteen minutes before I had my own first hit …when my car crashed into a Mercedes in the drive of The Majestic Hotel. It wasn’t my fault.
My friend from London was driving… a rental Porsche Carrera convertible, Hey! What else is he going to drive? He is a Film Producer. I had rung him ten minutes earlier, to tell him I had arrived.
“I am standing in front of the Soho House Club boat.”
“I’ll drive over and pick you up.” he’d said.
“I can walk.” I’d said.
” Don’t be ridiculous.”
“But I can see your hotel from here.” I said.”Look, I am waving at you.”
I waved at his hotel a hundred yards away.
“I am on the 7th floor. I’m waving back… now can you see me?” he asked.
I looked up at the 7th floor.
But, as all the way along all the floors of the hotel were dozens of huge hoardings featuring Jean Claude Van Damme as a shaven headed monk in red robes…for his new movie, imaginatively called THE MONK, I couldn’t see a thing.
People were paying £1000 a night for a sea view only to find themselves looking at the back of Jean Claude’s head.
“I’m on my way. Believe me… it will be better for your image… I’ll be right over” he said.
“What image?” I said. “I’m a life insurance salesman remember.”
He’d already hung up.
The boat was overflowing with beautiful tanned platinum blondes of all ages… from the very late teens to the very low twenties, wearing 2 inch minis and 5 inch stilettos,
Forget the dot com and goners of Silicon Valley…we’re talking Silicone Mountains…one cigar stubbed out in the wrong place and it would have made Vesuvius look like your next door neighbour’s barbecue.
My friend roared up… “The Soho House boat is two down,…you were standing by Hugh Hefner’s boat! Those girls were his seven girlfriends.” he said.
We were threading our way through the crowds on the Croisette now and must have got up to 5 mph for at least fifteen yards, before we turned into the Majestic’s drive and hit the Mercedes right outside the front door.
I got out of the car while my friend was discussing maybe $10,000 of bodywork with the other car’s chauffeur.
A couple of hundred paparazzi, TV crews and movie fans were herded behind steel crush barriers, watched over by a couple of dozen tough looking security men in dinner jackets and identical black shades.
“One of the crowd looked at me and said loudly ” Pfffh! He is nobody!”
I was very tempted to walk over and tell him about the time I was in New York two years ago… a couple of days after Life is Beautiful won the Oscars… when a Nine feet tall green Rabbit in the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue had suddenly stopped in his tracks, pointed at me and screamed at the top of its voice “Look! Everyone!..It’s Benigni!!…IT’S BENIGNI!!”
But before I had a chance to do so, an impossibly handsome man got out of the back of the Mercedes. Muscular, mid 30s, six four, jet black hair, black suit and a deep tan. Two very tall busty blondes also jumped out.
I wondered if Hef was down to five for the night. Would he even notice? Hef is 75 now.
The big guy walked over to me.
“So what are you doing?” he asked .
“Nothing. I am doing nothing…just watching.” I replied.
“No… what are you DOING?” he said again.
I looked up at him. Was he looking for a fight? I hoped not, he would have killed me with one punch.
” Look I was just the passenger!”
“I mean what PROJECT are you doing? What MOVIE?” he said.
He handed me his card. Mark Arkle, Senior ExecVice President. TNT!! Productions. It had a Penthouse in Miami Beach address. Clearly Mark was here for the Hot D’ Or Adult parallel Triple XXX rated Film Festival which was opening that night.
(Clearly this is a week where, if you wiped out a producer’s entire family in a head-on crash, his only reaction would be…”SO….WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”)
Half an hour later, we headed across the Croisette to party with toute de Hollywood in the Welsh Pavillion. I am not making this up. Life isn’t Hollywood, it’s Cricklewood or, in this case, Swansea.
I got talking to Lindon Jones …Catherine Z-J’s young brother who is, of course, himself now a major Hollywood player in his own right…as boss of her own production Company. The rumour was that his sister was secretly in town and holed up along the coast at the Hotel du Cap…where drinks at the bar are £100 each. (For some inexplicable reason the bar has been very quiet recently.)
“So,what are you doing, Lyndon?” I asked as I speared a dozen slices of smoked salmon and grabbed an entire tray of dim sum from a passing waiter..
“Hang on to my glass for a second, Lin, will you?” I said, as I stuffed them into my mouth.
“Well, we are doing a movie about a Welsh rugby team …” he started.
He was just getting onto the third or was it the forth re write, when I am sure he said it was about a ballet dancer who got in the side as the new scrum half…
“CONGRATULATIONS!.” I said.. “I am sure you have a huge hit on your hands. Which position will Catherine be playing by the way…a Hooker?”
I woke up the next morning and decided to become a Producer.
I bought a writing pad and sat at a table on the terrace of the Carlton Hotel and wrote a ten line synopsis for a movie about a Life Insurance salesman, who finding himself at the Cannes Film Festival, decides to become a film producer.
It’s called THE SALESMAN…and features seven big busty blondes who work in the support/admin department of the Life Insurance company’s office which is on a boat off the Croisette. After only one total rewrite I had it finished.
It had only taken me ten minutes to write a blockbusty movie…what a business!
Now all I had to do was sell it.
I leant over to the tanned, successful looking 50 year old producer with the Cohiba cigar, eating breakfast at the next table; it was Harvey Weinstein the boss of Miramax. The Big Cannes Cahuna himself!
” Hi! I’m Peter Rosengard. So, Harvey… WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
He shook my hand and flashed me a Hollywood smile.
“Hi Peter, I am Tom Bronson …I am a real estate agent from Los Angeles.
” He lowered his cigar, looked me in the eyes and, still keeping a firm grip on my hand, said “You want to know something Peter?”
“My 6000 square feet home in the Hollywood Hills… which I paid only $700,000 for just under five years ago.. is now valued at $2.7 Million.”
Back in my room the red message light on the phone is winking
“Hi, Peter” said a familiar sounding very deep voice “It’s Mark Arkle. We met earlier today at the Majestic. Strawberry , Coco and I want to know if you’d like to join us at the After Party tonight… at the Whiskey a GoGo, or we could meet after the after party.
” I love this place… Just don’t ask me to go and see a movie!
The Saturday Column May 19th 2001 Copyright Peter Rosengard 2001 Weekly on www.rosengard.com All back columns including those that first appeared in The Independent 1993/1995, are now up on the site. Please see The Saturday Column Archive.
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