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Premieres & Events

NYC Premiere: Infamous

The Reeler visited the Directors Guild Theater Monday night to see what there was to see at the premiere of Infamous, director Douglas McGrath's take on In Cold Blood-era Truman Capote that got slightly held up by one of its contemporaries in 2005 -- similar themes and characters, Oscar winner, something like that. Believe me, the subject came up on the red carpet, where stars Sandra Bullock, Toby Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Hope Davis joined McGrath in discussing their own Capote project, which opens Friday in New York. Then Naomi Watts and Edward Norton showed up (separately -- don't get any ideas) and paparazzi literally began chanting their names along with Bullock's name and I just wondered: If the celebrity-hungry Capote were actually working today, how would he have handled this kind of outrageous, pitched media frenzy if he didn't have to?

"With great glee and enjoyment, I suspect," said Infamous leading man Toby Jones, as close of a read on Capote as I would get for the evening. "He was not someone who shied away from the limelight, but I'm sure it would have gotten him in more and more trouble, because I think there's so much more exposure now. What's interesting, I think, in Capote's life is it wasn't just celebrity -- it was glamour. It was an echelon above celebrity. It was the jet-set, people who were tycoon followers and tycoons themselves. And in a way, we've kind of lost that glamour. It's very accessible to us now, don't you think?"

Well, they let me in here, so Jones wasn't too far off. Which then got me wondering if he thought Capote would have stuck with books or just settled into the striving messiness of the blogosphere. "I think he would have employed someone to give him a Web presence," Jones said. "And then he would have sued him if it didn't represent him how he wanted to be represented."

Oh, so that's how it's done. I didn't have that anywhere in the business model. Shit. Anyway, I begged pretty much the same questions of McGrath, who grinned from ear to ear at the thought. "Are you kidding?" he said. "He would have been like a pig at the old trough. He would have loved it. He wouldn't have gotten down that (carpet) so fast, though; he would have stopped, posed, tipped his hat. It's a very delightful thing about him and a very sad thing about him, that that was so important to him.

Which then set McGrath off. "But Sandy and Toby and I talked about this," he continued, "and the reason that Nell Harper Lee never wrote another book, perhaps -- by which I mean never needed to write another book; I know she tried very hard -- but she never sought the limelight. And when she realized she didn't have that second book in her that she could approve of and that she felt matched her standard, she could let it go. Because all of this wasn't important to her -- she had a real family. She had a father who loved her and sisters who were her friends. So that gave her that foundation that always made her safe in the world. Capote didn't have that. He had nothing. He had parents who left him as early as they could, and so he was always looking for someone to look at him. So this kind of things was as close as he came to it. Except, in my belief -- in the film -- what he found with Perry (Smith). And when Perry was taken away from him and hanged, he lost the person he felt most close to. So this kind of thing was the closest he could get to affirmation. Which is very sad. But he enjoyed it, too."

McGrath seemed as though he was enjoying it a bit himself, despite having to repeatedly answer the same question he's been fielding for the last 18 months: How does he think his film and Bennett Miller's Capote compare to each other, work together, complement the other, etc. etc. yawn. I just wanted to know if he was happy to bring it back to New York and let it speak for itself for a change. "Yes," he told me. "The tragedy for me would have been that the film not be made because of the other film. But I feel I have a very different take on the material from the other film -- with no disrespect meant to the other film. Just an entirely different take. And so the joyful thing for me -- and for some reason, most particularly tonight, because we've shown the film at Venice and telluride and Toronto -- but New York is our home. It was Truman's home, but it's my home too. And so I'm most particularly happy and proud to have it shown here because really all that can happen now is that people can see it. It's there. If they want to like it, they can like it."

Posted at October 10, 2006 8:40 AM

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