Millennium Films party on Budweiser Yacht

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Nothing says conspicuous fun quite like Jessica Simpson, Avi Lerner and Budweiser. So, it seemed strangely appropriate that the three brands converged aboard the Budweiser Yacht on Friday night to promote the Simpson vehicle "Major Movie Star" for Millennium Films. The boat threatened to topple over when paparazzi clamored for a photograph of the no-longer-platinum-blonde bombshell.

Attendees: Simpson, traveling with at least a six-pack of handlers, stood out as the only recognizable face. However, Frank Stallone or a dead ringer for Frank held court by the ship's bow to a crowd, uniformly clad in gold chains and plunging necklines.

Cuisine: It was French catering meets a Super Bowl party, which resulted in several strange offerings (dollops of guacamole served in plastic spoons). The King of Beers was the drink of choice, but the crowd also sipped midshelf mixed drinks and an unidentified milky substance served in shot glasses.

Highlights/lowlights: In many ways a mesmerizing spectacle, the parade of Simpson lookalikes (circa "Dukes of Hazzard") posing on a red carpet for the paparazzi, created a nonstop "Is that Jessica?" kind of hysteria for locals trying to catch a glimpse. However, the whole affair was redolent of the Ba Da Bing-on-the-sea with Eurotrash music for the plunging neckline brigade. The barefoot rule meant that Simpson et al padded the sticky deck risking picking up more than a splinter.

Rating: 1/5


"Savage Grace" party
When Julianne Moore makes an appearance in Cannes, people notice. For the cocktail reception hosted by Dreamachine to celebrate Tom Kalin's crime biopic "Savage Grace," the attraction was more: the Noga Hilton rooftop terrace, with nice views and a tight, tony crowd of about 100 well-dressed film execs ready to attend the screening in the theater below. Killer Films partners Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler were on hand with their hot sale title.

Attendees: Select but swank, and almost all dressed to the nines: Moore, Pedro and brother Augustin Almodovar, screenwriter Howard A. Rodman, Kalin, Warner Independent Pictures' Polly Cohen and Paul Federbush, Cinetic Media's John Sloss, "Transamerica" producer Sebastian Dungan, Dreamachine's Tim Haslam, Jeremy Thomas, Hengameh Panahi and Charlotte Mickie.

Cuisine: Plates of mini-quiches and other French specialties circulated freely. The bar was well stocked, and champagne flowed.

Highlights/lowlights: Exclusivity was the name of the game, allowing some good conversation with no blaring music, a cool breeze and a nice view. Even with the limited crowd, however, it was a bit hard to get around or avoid stumbling over gray tennis ball-fuzzy furniture on the way in -- the wider pool area was not part of the party.

Rating: 4/5


Hong Kong Film party

It would be hard to beat this party in a race to the bottom. At the end of a long day in and out of meetings and screenings, two mobiles going off simultaneously, the general 6 p.m. malaise descends. Is it too much to ask that parties starting at 6:30 p.m. provide the calm before the storm starts all over again when the sun goes down? The Hong Kong Film party was rough, loud and just plain mishandled. To prove it, as soon as the guests that gawkers had come to see had gone rushing off to change into their dinner jackets and strapless gowns, the crowd at the Carlton Beach thinned out fast. All of which is a shame since the purpose of the party was, ostensibly, to promote Hong Kong filmmaking. Instead, all it managed to promote was a sense of disbelief.

Attendees: Gilles Jacob, president of the Festival de Cannes, and Henry Tang, Hong Kong Financial Secretary, were the keynote speakers -- Wait. Speakers? At a party? -- and we blame them for keeping everybody waiting til 7:30 p.m. for the food and drink to be served. (Gilles' remarks were truncated by the translator, who should get credit for recognizing that if he didn't hurry things along, his audience might melt in the sun beaming through the clear plastic tent window at a sharp angle, causing Tang to sweat through his black, open-collared shirt. Wong Kar Wai, director of Festival opener "My Blueberry Nights," and actress Maggie Cheung, a Festival jury member this year, were the guests of honor. They unveiled in an odd ceremony large photos of -- wait for it -- themselves! Then, to help them celebrate, they were joined onstage for a champagne toast (at last!) followed by a who's who of Hong Kong film folk, including the directors of the late festival entry "Triangle," Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, starlet Hsu Chi, rainmaker Bill Kong, the head of Edko Films, among many others. Sweating it out with the plain ol' guests, waiting for all the formality to end and the party to begin, were Harvey Weinstein, Dede Nickerson, Paramount's top producer in China, David Roberts, managing director of ABN Amro's Asian equities, Lee Beasley, head of media and entertainment at Standard Chartered Bank of Hong Kong, and the co-chairmen of Fortissimo Films, Wouter Barendrecht and Michael Werner. Two guests told us they thought they both saw Andie Macdowell, but we couldn't confirm the sighting.

Cuisine: Uniformed servers clearly had strict orders, "Not until after the ceremony," said one as we watched guest after guest denied even water. In the party tent-cum-greenhouse, sans fans, organizers are lucky nobody fainted. As for the food, when it did come (noodles, stir fry, etc.), most people ate and ran! At least one glass of champagne was served warm.

Highlights/lowlights: Too many people for the venue meant that we saw two glasses knocked from thirsty drinkers' hands and shatter on the floor within minutes of the bar opening at last. Standing on the pier to get away from the soundtrack music being played far too loud, one woman turned to us and said, "This place is full of vultures" (in Cannes? No way!). For all its problems, the party was the best place to hunt down Asian film people with whom you had yet to connect.

Rating: 0.5/5


Blonde and Blonder
A classy location -- the Nikki Club inside the Carlton Hotel -- for one of the more lowbrow films screening in Cannes. With mellow music and lighting it was a low-key night and the mid-sized crowd (the crowd was never big enough that there was a shortage of seating) waited for the very late arrival of the film's cast.

Attendees: Pamela Anderson, who showed up after the party officially finished, was the only big-name star. Co-star Denise Richards skipped the trip to Cannes, reportedly for family reasons.

Cuisine: Almost none. Only a handful of drink choices were available from the bar and late in the evening staff circulated with a few trays of finger foods, but munchies were conspicuously absent.

Highlights/lowlights: The party was slow to get started, but the room at the back of the Carlton did finally fill up around midnight -- the official end to the party according to the invite -- when music started and the doors were opened for non-invitees. Anderson finally arrived close to 1 a.m. and held court for a short time before rushing off to the airport for her flight home.

Rating 1.5/5
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