About town: Smith feted as Modern Master


Northern lights

The 22nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, running through Feb 4., kicked off Thursday with George Hickenlooper's "Factory Girl," an MGM/The Weinstein Co. film about Santa Barbara native and 1960s New York It Girl Edie Sedgwick.

"Edie's story should come out because it was a tragedy," said Jonathan Sedgwick -- Edie's only sibling to support the controversial movie -- during a
"La Dolce Vita"-themed afterparty at Paseo Nuevo.

Star Sienna Miller spoke about feeling vulnerable during difficult scenes opposite Guy Pearce's uncanny Andy Warhol. "There's a real kind of cathartic element to it ... a huge sense of satisfaction in going somewhere and letting go of inhibitions," she said.

Honorees Helen Mirren and Will Smith also discussed the importance of inner strength on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Prior to accepting the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award from William H. Macy for her performance in Miramax's "The Queen," Mirren took part in a Q&A with the festival's Roger Durling. "I'm not afraid of not being confident," she said.

Tom Cruise presented the Modern Master Award to Will Smith, who, during a dialogue with Leonard Maltin that was both serious and comedic, said: "The belief in that possibility (of a happy-ending story) is our power, and don't give it away to anybody."
-- Sara Bakhshian

Players' club

Actors of all stripes -- from veterans and silver-screen idols to rising stars and small-screens favorites -- mingled at People magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation's bash following the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which took place Sunday at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. While some actors -- such as Alec Baldwin, Patrick Dempsey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Murphy and Will Smith -- made brief appearances at the party, held in a nearby Stanlee Gatti-designed tent, others including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon stayed for a performance by John Legend. Still others welcomed the chance to hang out with fellow thespians: Forest Whitaker was spotted chatting with Ellen Pompeo, while the cast of the Weinstein Co.'s "Bobby" (an MGM release) mingled with the cast of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Julie Andrews caught up with Carol Burnett and Helen Mirren -- who, with two wins, was once again the belle of the ball.   
-- Michael Burr

Regal wear

An array of Hollywood's top costume designers showed off their work Saturday during the launch of the 15th annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit, running through April 5 at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Museum & Galleries in downtown Los Angeles. The show, which features more than 100 costumes from 2006's films, kicked off with a reception that drew costume designers Sharen Davis, Sanja Milkovic Hays, Deborah Hopper, Joseph A. Porro, Mayes C. Rubeo, Julie Weiss and Durinda Wood.

Up to Par

Paramount Pictures International officially introduced itself Jan. 22 with a swanky bash in London at the Royal Academy of Arts' West Room, where the studio's Brad Grey was on hand to lend his support to the overseas releasing arm. Sipping champagne at the event were numerous A-listers, behind-the-lens talent and Paramount top brass, including PPI's Andrew Cripps, who thanked the crowd for attending the official launch. Cripps said that PPI has much to look forward to, including the international rollout of "Transformers," "Shrek the Third" and "Stardust," while Grey called the event "an auspicious occasion" and said the launch was the culmination of the first phase of rebuilding the 95-year-old studio.    

-- Stuart Kemp