• Day 85: The Sun Also Sets

    Date: 2010.05.23 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    I left the dying embers of the Cannes Film Festival and bought some groceries and new plants for the terrace on the way home.  I feel badly for people who live the high life all the time.  How can they get any perspective?

    You can’t make sense of Shelley Hack and her strange connection to Alain Delon and my jealousy of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott without a little set of rooms with a view in Middle Earth.

    The last big bash of the Cannes Film Festival is always the amFAR AIDS charity throwdown at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Antibes, just five miles down the old coast road from Cannes.  It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth – even if you know Villa America and the artists and writers are are all long gone and that’s Roman Abramovich’s vulgar yacht out in the harbor.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald, above with Zelda in Antibes in 1926, was so inspired by the hotel that he opened Tender is the Night with it:

    On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose- colored hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach. Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people; a decade ago it was almost deserted after its English clientele went north in April. Now, many bungalows cluster near it, but when this story begins only the cupolas of a dozen old villas rotted like water lilies among the massed pines between Gausse’s Hôtel des Étrangers and Cannes, five miles away.

    The hotel and its bright tan prayer rug of a beach were one. In the early morning the distant image of Cannes, the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alp that bounded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea-plants through the clear shallows.

    So it was that I arrrived Thursday night at the Hotel du Cap’s 2010 version of a bright tan prayer rug: the red carpet.

    And then, of all the red carpets in the world, he had to be there.  Before me, of course, and first in position in line.  Let’s call him… Pemingway.

    Pemingway rules the Parisian roost as king of entertainment reporters. We have a rocky history.  No, we don’t spar over pastis at Les Deux Magots or kick around iambic pentameter at lesbian literary salons.

    Let’s just say Angelina Jolie got between us a few times. Then there was that night when Madonna’s stage set collapsed in Marseilles.  Pemingway was on the horn from Paris, ready to tell me what to do per usual like he was Darrin and I was Samantha.  ”Don’t give me your journalism tutorials,” I barked.  Pemingway backed off.

    Until now.  The truth is, Pemingway and I had never met in person. Now we’d be side-by-side in the harsh afternoon sunlight as the first C and D-listers came down the red carpet. And we’d be together two hours later for the last of the A-listers as the sun slid slowly over the horizon.

    Tonight Pemingway and I were working for different media outlets. We’re free agents and tonight Pemingway was working for a television show. It was a new Pemingway, quick with a quip and chivalrous. He gave me an extra bottle of water and even offered to fetch me a shawl.

    We soldiered through Rachel Bilson, Karolina Kurkova, Chris Tucker, Michelle Rodriguez, Mischa Barton, Emily Blunt, Elizabeth Banks, Paris Hilton (and her mother,) and gaped at graying Patti “Horses” Smith, who walked the red carpet in jeans, motorcycle boots.

    Our bond deepened as Jennifer Lopez, Gerard Butler, Naomi Campbell and Michelle Williams swept by refusing to speak to anyone.  Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Lindsay Lohan (again!) snuck in some side door.  Kate Beckinsale, Mary J. Blige, Harvey Weinstein, Kenneth Cole, however, paid us a certain kind of tribute.

    Oddly enough, I was struck by a vaguely familiar face.

    “It’s Shelley Hack,” I whispered to Pemingway, who squinted expertly in her direction and nodded.

    Shelley Hack is 62 and she’s no longer famous but she stood out on the red carpet.  She looks 20 years younger but as if she hasn’t had any work done.  She also looked as if she knows things other people don’t.

    Pemingway was more focused on Alain Delon, former huge French bad-boy star who now just looks permanently hung over.

    A PR person had asked me and Pemingway to ask us to interview Delon because he wanted to get some American press – but he didn’t want to speak English.  So we’re primed to speak to him in French.   Then Delon shows up, and appears to diss us.

    Pemingway worries that it’s him – that Delon has remembered him from some past encounter and doesn’t want to talk to him.

    Me, I don’t care because Mick Jagger and his 6’4″ girlfriend L’Wren Scott have just arrived.  I just saw Mick the other night before the screening of  Stones in Exile and he looked as youthful as… Shelley Hack!

    I’m irritated that if Mick is going to wind up with a tall woman with long hair in her 40s, why didn’t he just stay with Jerry Hall who’s not that much older and prettier than L’Wren Scott.   Then I wish I had gotten in there before L’Wren Scott.  I figure you could make it work with Mick just by letting him do what he wants.

    Mick can’t answer any questions because the stern, unsmiling L’Wren yanks him down the red carpet as if he’s six – and Mick seems to revel in it.

    Then, as quickly as Mick disappears up the stairs into the hotel, the “arrivals” have ended and the red carpet is going to be rolled up.

    Pemingway and I don’t say goodbye – but that’s because we’re both going in for the dinner and auction, in the big tent on the back lawn of the Hotel du Cap.

    I don’t see him during dinner, which stretches until midnight, with just a tiny appetizer, small entree (both good, though) and fabulous dessert that I can’t eat. I’m starving.  We move onto the big party across the lawn at midnight, inside the Eden Roc restaurant next to the pool and overlooking the Mediterranean.

    I bump into all the usual suspects – Paris, Lindsay, Benicio de Toro, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams – as I circulate the party with various other reporter friends or alone (you can never get a Plus One to these events so no invitations for Mr. Year Without Candy.)

    Then I see her:  Shelley Hack again, looking all-knowing while standing at a railing above the sea.

    I say hi and she is friendly, though wary. Her husband and another friend of theirs are chattier.  Her husband is a director named Harry Winer. He’s at Cannes with a movie and somehow Alain Delon is involved.  It turns out he and Shelley are friends with Delon and just had dinner with him and Harry tells me how hard he worked to arrange American press for Delon on the red carpet.

    “Oh,” I said. “I was there. What happened?”

    Winer said Delon panicked after he arrived and was faced with so many English-speaking reporters.  Somehow he didn’t realize that some of us could have spoken to him in French.  So very French of him to feel intimidated but act arrogant to hide it.

    I sighed.  So it wasn’t Pemingway after all.

    I had to tell him.

    A few of us stayed until 3:30 a.m. and the party was still rocking.  I tried every now and then to walk away to the edge of the sea and imagine the place, 90 years ago, when Fitzgerald and Picasso and Leger and the Murphys all had picnics on the beaches here and drank too much and chased their children and wrote and painted masterpieces.

    I tried, but it was hard.

    We drove back to Cannes in the dark.   Sometime the next day I sent Pemingway an email explaining the Delon mystery.

    I haven’t heard back.

    I’ve been… Pemingway-ed.

    We won’t always have Antibes.

    Tant pis.