Last night's AFI Dallas International Film Fest coming-out party was quite the swanky affair in the downtown Neiman Marcus; said a visiting dignitary, "I've never been around so much money." You could almost count every penny of the fest's estimated $4 mil price tag -- though there were distractions enough to keep your attention elsewhere, including a brief appearance by fest honoree Lauren Bacall, who kept at it till well past 11 p.m. Also hanging in there: Bill Paxton, who, at well past midnight, was tugging on a Bud and spilling wide-eyed tales of seeing John Kennedy when he arrived in Fort Worth on November 22, 1963. Paxton was 8 at the time; hard to believe that guy's turning 52 in May.
Ron Livingston, star of opening-night pic Music Within, also stuck it out; God knows how many people came up to him and told him Office Space was their favorite movie ever. "Mine too," he always said, flashing a wide grin; nicest guy ever, maybe, and if not, he's a close second to Paxton, who took photos with anyone who asked. Saw him this morning; looked bleary, sounded cheery. Said playing Peter Gibbons in Mike Judge's 1999 fave wasn't as easy as it looked. "He said funny things," Livingston explained, "but I tried to play him like he was miserable."
So, yeah, the famous are pouring in -- not only for AFI, though.
Halle Berry and Giovanni Ribisi are here today plugging Perfect Stranger; and, yeah, at 10:30 this morning she was dolled up in an evening gown worth more than the entirety of my wardrobe and yours. She was lovely, course. Talked for a few seconds about her next film, which will be Tulia, in which she plays one of the Panhandle attorneys defending the famous 46 folks rounded up -- 40 of whom were African American -- on drug charges that later turned out to be false, false, false. And Ribisi talked about the last time he was in town: November 1, playing the Gypsy Tea Room with bro-in-law Beck. "That was a totally last-minute thing," he says, explaining he thought he was just hitching a ride to experience life on the road with a rock-and-roll band. "He said, 'Why don't you play guitar?,' so I did," Ribisi said. Nothing to it.
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So, yeah, we'll get back to the AFI in a moment -- with a special treat, courtesy our edit assistant Kaitlin Ingram's estimable assisting. Till then, if you have a copy of this -- damn it, I just can't find mine -- I really need it by, like, 2:15 p.m. today. There'a a Hot Fuzz pass in it for ya... --Robert Wilonsky