The wine and the money were flowing at Cinema Against AIDS 21, the annual fundraising event for amFAR timed to the Cannes Film Festival and largely hosted by Harvey Weinstein who announced a record-smashing take of $35 million this year. That’s far and away higher than the astronomical $25 million earned last year. Weinstein told me he was just hoping to make a dollar more than last year, but really had no idea the total could go this big. High rollers from all over Europe made up much of the packed crowd that also included celebrities like Adrien Brody, Adrian Grenier, Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Marion Cotillard, Michelle Rodiguez, Rosario Dawnson, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Jane Fonda, Justin Bieber, Kellan Lutz, Jessica Chastain and Leonardo DiCaprio. The latter was part of the action as, just like last year, a seat for a trip to space on Virgin Galactic in 2015 with DiCaprio was being auctioned off and actually went for $700,000. Last year two others won the auction, but DiCaprio told me tonight that due to technical problems there has been a 16-month delay in getting it space-bound. He seemed a little nervous about the whole idea but was game to play for the cause. Chief celebrity auctioneer and his The Quick And The Dead co-star Sharon Stone (who ran the auction as usual and took no prisoners in getting cash) effusively praised him for his unstinting support of the event and cause over the years. The lowest item to get a bid were the gloves of Karl Lagerfeld which took only $10,000 despite almost desperate pleas for more from Stone. She was really in her comfort zone in keeping this thing going at a fever clip.
Among other items up for auction that realized big returns were a stainless steel, glass-covered gold leaf and mammoth skeleton donated by artist Damien Hirst. It went for a record-breaking 11 million euros to billionaire Leonard Blavatnik who was sitting at Weinstein’s table next to Cannes Jury head Jane Campion, who seemed to be having a great time after watching 18 heavyweight movies all week. Bieber, who was on his best behavior all night and has been in Cannes this week, came over to congratulate him. I asked Bieber why he was here and he said a good friend is also a film student and so he wanted to learn more about the movie world.
Gael Garcia Bernal, Carole Bouquet and Willem Dafoe were other jurors who were invited to this ritziest of ritzy parties. Other items that went on the block for a good cause included two more Hirst paintings, each fetching half a million euros; a high jewelry Serpenti Necklace which Bruni modeled and auctioned off for a cool $400,000; a chance to customize you own S 63 AMG Coupe which sold for $300,000; and 21 exclusive bottles from the Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection all going for just $180,000. The fashion show theme this year was the RED collection and the 42 designer dresses in it all went to another Russian for $3.5 million. The Weinstein Company threw in an Oscar-weekend package in LA that includes several parties, and Cotillard and Brody sold it five times at $100,000 a pop. And YOU thought going to CAA and WME agency parties was free? My favorite had to be the package donated by a new sponsor this year, Worldview, which offered an actual executive producer credit on their upcoming movie Triple Nine. In addition to the EP credit, the bidder gets invited to the set and the premiere. BUT, the fine print in the description makes one thing clear for all you budding Executive Producers out there who think you can just buy your way into the business: “The winning bidder is not entitled to any profit sharing, royalties or compensation associated with this film or any Worldview movie productions past or present.” It went to a young woman at table 60 for $130,000, but I doubt the PGA will be offering her a membership with the credit.
I was seated at a Worldview table right up front and it really heated up during the final entertainment portion of the night as Robin Thicke got on our table and performed his big hit song, breaking several plates in the process but bringing the raucous house down. Worldview has the film The Search in competition, and COO Molly Conners told me she’s really excited also about Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman which will be released by Fox Searchlight in October. I hear it will be at some fall festivals including the opening slot of the New York Film Festival. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in Telluride too. Gonzalez Inarritu is a real fan of that fest.
Cotillard, who is a real contender to take Best Actress in Cannes for Two Days, One Night, told me the movie opened commercially Wednesday after its Cannes debut and did very big business. She was thrilled. And speaking of thrilled, Fonda is getting the AFI Life Achievement Award in Hollywood in two weeks and told me she burst out crying when she got the call. “They have asked me in the past to present it to Bette Davis and I did, and Barbara Stanwyck and I did, and my father Henry Fonda and I did. But I NEVER dreamed I would get this,” she said, adding that many friends are gone or out of town that night including Dolly Parton and Jennifer Lopez (both co-stars) who will be touring. One of those who will be there is Lily Tomlin who is co-starring with Fonda in a new Netflix series that she says will start shooting in August. “I like Netflix. I just binge-watched Season 2 of House Of Cards. I have always wanted to do a series that focused on older women. It’s not a sitcom but completely character-driven,” she said. I also complimented her on her new film, This Is Where I Leave You , which Warner Bros will open in September. She’s terrific in it with a cast that includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver who Fonda says is one of the best actors she has ever worked with.
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.