May 30, 2007
Kiss & Tell
Letter From Cannes
When my friend Julie asked me to join her at the Cannes Film Festival I
thought there's no way.
It's Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons, and I
have to pack and move out of my house and clean the whole thing and finish
like 10 articles and I am absolutely not St. Tropez bikini-ready. So I said
I'm lucky with yes.
The outcome is usually much more fun than saying
With a super Herculean effort I finished everything and set off for the
airport. My positive attitude however did not translate to the cab company
that was picking me up from the Jitney-airport connection. They were almost
an hour late but each time I called they promised they would be there in
five minutes. When I finally arrived at JFK, almost missing my flight, I
told the driver I did not think it was fair for me to pay the fare. His
dispatcher barked out to him, "Then take her back to the Jitney or call the
I explained to him again what had happened and said that if they
couldn't accommodate me because the Jitney was late then they should have
said so at the beginning and I would have made another arrangement. "Call
the police on her!" he yelled again. I was about to get really angry but
then thought that tomorrow this miserable man would still be in a cubicle
somewhere and I would be in Paris.
By the time I arrived in Cannes, had a shower and a cafe au lait, and headed
to the Croisette (the main avenue by the beach) I felt much better. My
friend Julie and her husband and little girl were staying at the Martinez
Hotel, which is where many of the stars stay, and when I passed through the
throngs of onlookers and security I almost ran smack into Catherine Deneuve.
Yes, she still looks amazing. The French revere their queens of cinema and
do not discard them as they mature, as we tend to do in America. Although
Sharon Stone could single-handedly defy the age rule as she looked amazing
and clearly had found the time (as I had not) to get St. Tropez beach-ready.
The first evening Julie and I joined our friend Valencia to celebrate her
birthday. We arrived at a villa hotel outside Cannes in Mougins which looked
like something out of a Merchant Ivory film. Le Manoir de L'Etang, which is
owned by her friend Camilla, is a countryside oasis of a classic stone villa
amidst green parterres with stone terraces and a private swimming pool.
Camilla treated us to a delicious Italian meal with French wine and the
lightest lemon soufflé which almost convinced you it had no caloric content.
We all vowed to try to return in September for her yoga retreat. (Note to
self: be sure to get Labor Day chores done early and try to master crow
After being regaled back at my hotel bar by a Brit celebrity journalist who
had great Elizabeth Taylor stories which I cannot repeat having been sworn
to secrecy, I slept for hours and awoke refreshed. My friend Julie
unfortunately had been up with a sick screaming child and her husband had
been a bit worried what their neighbor was going to say. She was surprised
the next day while her daughter was dancing and singing in the hall to hear
the neighbor whose door was open clapping for her.
It was Quentin Tarantino.
The second night was the grand New Line Cinema party in celebration of the film
Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green. The film company was also celebrating
its fortieth anniversary and the party was one that would put even the best
Hamptons benefit to shame. Of course it helps to have a Rothschild castle,
but this one was modernized, bathed in lavender, lit with dance floors and
bars and food courts and even sported a winter wonderland outside.
Inside the castle
sipping champagne I felt like I was in the midst of the French Court in
the grand rooms while gazing at tapestries and sitting on settees. Quite the
setting to reconnect with some Hollywood friends.
A French juror told us that the American films were doing quite well in the
festival this year as opposed to last and that Gus Van Sant and the Cohen
Brothers were garnering accolades. One compilation we can hope to see over
here is the collection called "Chacun son cinema" where 35 directors created
short films about film and was a big hit.
The women seemed to fare less well
here where the few females seemed lost in a sea of men for the photo on the red
carpet. While screenings and receptions are restricted, the festival does put
up a giant screen by the Palais Theater where the crowds that wait often 10
hours by the barricades can view the stars as they go in.
The amount of wealth – from the private yachts and planes to lavish cars,
gowns, parties and jewels – is almost staggering, but my favorite story of
excess from Cannes was passed on by one of the private
When he started working for this very wealthy French guest he
was instructed to always keep two ceramic bowls for the dog in the back of
the car. Two? Well he was to pour flat and sparkling water and let the dog
decide which he preferred.
It's really quite a privilege to be in Cannes . . . but it's even better if you're
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