Mike Fleming

At the post-Oscar bash held by The Weinstein Company and at the Vanity Fair party, it became clear that Harvey Weinstein might well have opportunities to capitalize on the momentum created by The King’s Speech. I ran into Quentin Tarantino, who said that he has completed the script for his Western, and that compared to recent scripts like Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill that took so long to crystallize, this one came together much quicker and just flowed out of him. He wasn’t more descriptive than that before I lost him in the crowd, but my understanding is he’ll deliver within two months and then TWC will begin moving toward a production start.

At the same time, Oscar-winning The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper seems to be getting serious about resuscitating the Deborah Moggach novel Tulip Fever as a possible next directing vehicle. That project had been on the verge of being put in turnaround at Paramount, but the studio could be involved as a co-financier with TWC. The film’s set in 17th Century Amsterdam, where a married woman and an artist hired to paint her portrait begin a passionate affair and gamble on the booming market for tulip bulbs as a way to raise money to run away together. The film has been a passion for such directors  as John Madden and Peter Chelsom over the past decade, and once had Keira Knightley and Jude Law once planning to play the lovers.  Hooper is also mulling Les Miserables among possibles. There was a real sense of company history at the Weinstein bash, as Harvey Weinstein entered to loud applause and immediately engaged in a bro hug with Tarantino, with the likes of Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth and others standing nearby…

The Vanity Fair party was also something to behold. Revelers seemed to either be carrying Oscars, or In and Out Burgers that were shipped in for the event. There were a total of 20 Oscar winners in attendance, including Hooper and his star Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Melissa Leo, Aaron Sorkin, David Seidler, Suzanne Bier, Trent Reznor, and Charles Ferguson, as well as Honorary Academy Award recipient Francis Ford Coppola. Beyond that was just about every star in the Hollywood stratosphere.

There was plenty of Sunday night quarterbacking about both the Academy Awards and Saturday’s Spirits. The revelers I spoke to were uniformly underwhelmed with the quality of the Oscarcast, with many noting the lack of chemistry between hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco. As for the Spirits, the proceedings felt different from recent years, and not just because the wind blowing off the water into the tent in Santa Monica put a chill into the crowd and led to early exits. Even before host Joel McHale took the stage, the show gave out some early awards, which confused the audience. Also, the lights were dim before the show started, and stayed that way, so there was no clear delineation between schmooze time and showtime, and when it was time to shut up and sit down. The show also halted for commercial breaks, even though the decision was made to not broadcast the event live. That robbed momentum. Many people got up and congregated during the breaks, and weren’t close to sitting back down when the proceedings restarted. In past years, there was more of a commanding use of lighting, and a voiceover that let the audience know a broadcast was going on. Here, it was often difficult to hear what was happening because of all the crowd chatter. Still, the move back to Santa Monica from downtown Los Angeles was a huge step in the right direction (despite the wet cold floor that made one feel like they were sitting in an ice hockey rink). And McHale’s monologue and witty asides showed why it is easier for audience to warm to the patter of a comic talent before sitting in for the awards than actors trying unsuccessfully to be funny, as happened the following day at the Oscars.

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