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.
Cannes: AMFAR’s 21st Cinema Against Aids Event Brings In Record $35 Million Along with Leo, Bieber, Fonda And An Executive Producer Credit For Sale To Highest Bidder
Would you pay €1.5 million ($1.94 million) to spend a weekend at Oscar parties? Or €1.8 million to fly to the moon on Virgin Galactic with Leonardo DiCaprio? Someone did — and more. That happened at amFAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Film Festival gala’s very special 20th anniversary Thursday night. Co-hosts Weinstein and Kenneth Cole announced to a roomful of very high rollers that the event, held of the Hotel Du Cap, raised €25 million ($32.3 million), smashing last year’s record total of over €10 million. The ultra-high style party is a two decades long staple of the Cannes festival, and Weinstein told me if it just made a dollar more than the previous year they’d be happy. But these multimillionaires and billionaires obviously came to play this year and really stepped up at the auction that featured numerous stars including jury members Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz, along with Jessica Chastain, Jeremy Renner, Rosario Dawson, Heidi Klum, Goldie Hawn, Janet Jackson, Adrien Brody and major fundraiser/auctioneer Sharon Stone.
Hammond On Cannes: Elizabeth Taylor’s Memory Lives On At Festival As ‘Cleopatra’ Premieres And AIDS Event Hits 20th Anniversary
There are lots of stars in Cannes this year but I don’t think any of them are shining brighter at the festival than one who is no longer with us. Elizabeth Taylor may have died over two years ago at the age of 79 but she lives on, not only on the big and small screens where her many films still play, but also for all the amazing charitable work she did in her lifetime, particularly her fight against AIDS. Tomorrow night amFAR will certainly be remembering her at the 20th anniversary of Cinema Against AIDS, the signature event set during the Cannes Festival she helped start. And Tuesday night 20th Century Fox World Premiered its meticulous 2K digital restoration (it took nine months to complete) of the 1963 film, Cleopatra, infamous for the torrid off-screen love affair between its stars Taylor and Richard Burton.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary the studio pulled out all the stops with a black tie premiere of the four-hour movie (that ironically almost bankrupted the studio), followed by a lavish party sponsored by Bulgari, the jeweler who supplied Taylor with so many of the baubles she was famous for collecting. In fact, as you entered the party on the J.W. Marriott rooftop it was hard to avoid them displayed in special glass cabinets. Included was the platinum and emerald necklace her co-star Burton gave her for their engagement in 1962. Host (and Bulgari spokesperson) Jessica Chastain actually wore it to introduce the film before taking it off and giving it back to Bulgari. She is the only person to have worn it other than Liz on her wedding day (or one of her wedding days). Also Fox brought in several original Cleopatra costumes. Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos was there to help intro the film and told me later that the financial toll the film took on the studio has been overblown. “It turned a profit after three years,” he says although the movie’s cost was astronomical and ran off the rails. I asked Fox President of Post-Production Ted Gagliano about the story that director Joseph Mankiewicz actually had a six-hour cut and that two never-before seen hours of the film are somewhere in the Fox vaults. He says he has heard this as well but thinks it’s another in the long line of Cleopatra myths since they searched high and low and found nothing. One of the guests at the premiere, director and film nerd Alexander Payne told me after seeing the film again he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn there was an even longer cut. “But who really needs to see a six-hour version?” he asked. Both Payne and his guest Laura Dern (whose father Bruce Dern stars in Payne’s Cannes entry, Nebraska, which premieres here Thursday) said they loved seeing the film in all its restored glory.