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Premieres & Events

No Nicole: Fur Premieres Sans Star in NYC

I journeyed down to Chelsea Sunday night to check out what was happening at the premiere of Fur, the Nicole Kidman-starring "imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus" (per the film's subtitle) that has raised a hackle here or there and choked at least one critic to blue-faced death. I didn't think director Steven Shainberg's unconventional biopic of the legendary photographer was nearly that bad, but I'll get to that later this week in a podcast feature with Shainberg. I mean, Sunday was premiere time! Red carpet! Stupid questions!

Like this one I started to ask Fur co-star Robert Downey Jr.: "You play this whole film covered in hair--"

"I do?" he said. "Liar!"

"Right, OK, 90 percent," I corrected myself. "How did that go?"

"When you're having your lunch break and you're having some -- I don't know -- half-assed curry soup or something and you realize there's a 16-inch hair down your esophagus?" Downey said. "I was basically, like, fishing for chickpeas. You know how uptight you can get if you have a little eyelash in your eye? Cured."

Probing shit, I know. I admit I was curious, but not nearly as curious as I was to ask producer Laura Bickford about Kidman's absence. Fox gossiptard Roger Friedman had some revealing "insights" regarding the actress's disappearance from the post-RomeFilmFest publicity rounds; the consensus has her by new husband Keith Urban's side as he shuffles through rehab, but the cynic pinging away at the back of my skull had to at least allow for the possibility that Kidman, sensitive to the negative press, is cutting her losses. Not so, said Bickford.

"I think everybody understands Nicole is working, and she's with her husband," she told The Reeler. "I think if Nicole decided not to come because she didn't like the film, that would be one thing. But that's not the case. She just wants to stay with her family right now, and I wish her all the best. I think everybody does. There's a lot of goodwill for Nicole and it's certainly not that she's not promoting the movie. She loves the movie, she's proud of her part; she just couldn't be here tonight. Which is totally understandable. But she'll be with us down the road -- if there is a road, I hope. I think it's one of those situations where real life is more important than coming to your movie premiere. Everybody totally understands."

Earlier, Bickford (pictured above) had exulted about having slain the adaptation curse that seemed to burden Patricia Bosworth's definitive Arbus biography since it was published in 1984. She got involved when Erin Cressida Wilson wrote her script, which focuses on a particularly impressionistic three-month period in 1958 when a furry, fictional neighbor (Downey) inspired Arbus to take up the photography career that would make her famous.

"I got involved as a producer once there was this script, but I had been following the others," Bickford said, referring to projects to which names including Diane Keaton, David Fincher and Mark Romanek had been attached. "And part of the reason I'd wanted to do this script was that I knew it had been so difficult to really crack the story. And I felt this script had, and we were really happy that it got made. And that this was the way to go to get people interested in making it."

Because it isn't the usual biopic formula? "That's exactly why I wanted to do it: I thought the usual biopic form could use a little reinvigoration and that we're up front that some of it is made up. But all biopics make things up." -- S.T. VanAirsdale

(Photos: Downey -- STV; Bickford -- Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Posted at November 6, 2006 10:30 AM

Comments (2)

I love how it is that people assumed that Kidman isn't promoting Fur because she doesn't like it or because she feels it won't be critically acclaimed. Kidman, regardless of how a movie turns out, as stood and promoted her films. She promoted Bewitched and TSW for godsakes. Especially for films like this, she has never shirked her responsibilities to them. She promoted Birth more than Jonathan Glazer or any of her co-stars did, same thing with Portrait of a Lady long ago, infact, that is something she has always done. Considering that she is shuffling between London, filming Golden Compass and taking care of her family while her hubby is in rehab then I think she can be cut some slack unless you think the promotion of Fur should take priority over the needs of her family and her contractual obligations - telling her cast mates, director, crew and producers to hold off shooting while she sashays down the redcarpet to open a movie. She already did the most important part of her job, creating the Arbus character for some 12 weeks. I am sure even Downey Junior understands that, I mean, he is an ex-addict after all.

I've read the critical links and although dissecting any movie such as Fur would possibly strip any emotional attachments that were connecting to such a film, I still stand by this movie as one of the best I have seen of late. It was extremely touching and left me with a feeling of awkward seperation from the world directly following the feature. See it.

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