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I’m here in Europe during COVID-19 producing a documentary based on the Denver Art Museum’s current exhibition, From Paris to Hollywood: The Fashion and Influence of Veronique and Gregory Peck. Directed by their daughter, Cecilia Peck, the film uses Veronique’s collection of haute-couture dresses as a backdrop to this couple’s legendary love story and how they used their style to accomplish so much in support of the arts and social justice. For years, the Pecks had a home in Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera. The film combines interviews of beloved friends and never-before-seen home movies shot by Gregory. Cecilia — whose Starz docuseries Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult received the best documentary series award at the new Monaco Streaming Film Festival on July 13 — and I also went to Lake Como to prep shooting. I checked into the Grand Hotel Tremezzo; owned by Valentina de Santis, Tremezzo has life, music and the best beds.
Mike had flown to Berlin in early June with New Republic’s Brad Fischer (Black Swan executive producer) to start Amblin’s Last Voyage of the Demeter, starring Corey Hawkins and directed by André Ovredal. It only took 20 years to get a green light. I was not allowed to go on set to visit my husband and our son Nick, who was working as a P.A. on Demeter, because there’s a strict five-day quarantine, plus testing every two days.
On July 10, Mike took a 7 a.m. flight to meet me in Cannes for Sean Penn’s intimate and powerful film Flag Day, starring daughter Dylan Penn, the discovery of the festival. Mike considers Sean a son, and there was love overflowing — fully masked, COVID-tested, vaccinated — for this heartfelt true story. It was the most people we had been around in more than two years. In a theater. There was a standing ovation of four minutes after the film.
How Sean Penn helped save California and the U.S. with his CORE Response and its testing and vaccination, and then directed and starred in Flag Day … is beyond comprehension. He didn’t sleep for the past year and a half, wanting to save lives. Give this man the Medal of Freedom already.
At the achingly beautiful Hotel du Cap, overseen expertly and graciously by general manager Philippe Perd, I ran into Adrien Brody, who was in Cannes for Wes Anderson’s French Dispatch. It’s still the most glamorous hotel with the best staff in the world. Mike and I had our honeymoon there and they make you feel you have come back home. Another night, Mike and I celebrated our anniversary at La Colombe D’Or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence with composer Leslie and his wife, Evie Bricusse.
Mike then met up in Monaco with Keith Chapman (Paw Patrol), the writer and creator of Ozi, an animated film jointly produced in the U.K. and France along with Appian Way and due out in 2022. With voices by Amandla Stenberg, Djimon Hounsou, RuPaul, Laura Dern and Donald Sutherland, it follows the journey of a teenage orangutan who is orphaned after its Indonesian habitat is burned down. It’s a film about climate change that devastates animal and plant lives and the need for an engaging way to show the effects.
As Mike was returning to work in Los Angeles, I decided to travel to Austria and try the VivaMayr health resort. There are a lot of COVID pounds still hanging on me, and a date for knee replacement surgery with orthopedic surgeon Jason Snibbe looms. Rebel Wilson told me the clinic was her motivation to kick off her year of health. She is shooting a funny film, Senior Year, in Atlanta with a 60-pound weight loss! If that is not enough to get me motivated, I don’t know what could be. We will be celebrating Rebel’s belated Birthday soon and pressure is on to be as healthy as Rebel looks and feels!
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Viva Europe, viva France and the world. May we come together once again, travel without fear (not yet, given the Delta variant) and work together telling stories of hope, love and survival.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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