Whit Stillman,

Whit Stillman,

A weeklong electronic journal.
June 11 1998 3:30 AM

Whit Stillman,

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

       A bit of a wrist-slap yesterday from Cyrus Krohn, managing editor of Slate--first, about deadlines; second, that I'm supposed to put in more details of daily life ("7:22 a.m.: The sun poured in the windows of the Cheapo Grand Efficiency Suites Hotel ...") or something, with maybe less special pleading about the movie (though that wasn't explicitly stated; Cyrus did say he and his girlfriend were going to the movie--if you've forgotten, The Last Days of Disco--so at least they had a good time last night). That experience--of seeing The Last Days of Disco for the first time on the big screen--is, of course, one I'll never be able to share.
       9:35 a.m.: One advantage of the Cheapo Grand is that it is conveniently located if you have an appointment at National Public Radio's New York office at 9:45, as I did this morning. Finally, with the third film, we made the cut to get on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, one of the great interview shows, except with this guest. Why did I say all that stuff? It might be on tomorrow, Thursday, or else next week, throughout the NPR system. My God, what was I thinking? There is something about an empty studio and a big microphone that operates on me like sodium pentothal, and I spill my guts out stream-of-consciousness style about the least promising subjects--in this case a weirdly impassioned defense of party culture and the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie.
       Then we walked back to our old stomping grounds at Clein & White's duplex townhouse offices on West 54th Street. Clein & White has handled the publicity on all three films. Back in the spring of 1990 it was Bob Aronson, who went on to important film acquisitions jobs at Fine Line/New Line and Fox Searchlight. The publicists who work in the independent film arena--as opposed to the star-handlers--tend to be very sharp and much nicer than others in the film business; they make good film executives when called upon.
       Back at Clein & White (the space is a little reminiscent of the apartments in Breakfast at Tiffany's; classic old style midtown townhouse oddly divided) continue "phoners" to support the film.
       11:30 a.m.: NPR--Josh Horowitz has a show, To the Point, in Rochester, N.Y. He sounds young but is very well prepared; an exciting talk about the nitty-gritty of the film. (He also spoke with Chris Eigeman, who plays the club underboss, Des, in the movie.) Put this guy on the network--Morning Edition or All Things Considered--no one's covering film like he is.
       12:10 p.m.: Cleveland Free Times, Brett Sokol. He's really funny and knows all about radical politics from the period I was in college; he's writing a history of SDS, of which my brother was one of the co-founders at Harvard. Brett has a copy of Steve Kelman's book on his desk and mentions the latest developments in Michael Ansara's career (former Cambridge SDSer, from the opposite faction from my brother, who recently got into some trouble in the Teamsters campaign funding controversy). As a candidate for the Crimson, I remember my calling him up for a story and his replying that he would not talk with the bourgeois press.
       Cyrus from Slate is really upset about the lateness of the copy today. Uh-oh. So, very quickly, last night, a return to the party fervor of the disco era:
       6 p.m.: A semisecret or at least private gathering for cocktails in a beautiful building at 62nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The purpose of this meeting can't be revealed. Among those present is the eloquent Harvard Chaplain Peter Gomes and my friend Russell Pennoyer, who--as an investor, business adviser, and enthusiast--played a key role in getting our first film, Metropolitan, finished.
       7 p.m.: 64th and Lex. At a somewhat French restaurant, a party for the new independent film magazine Indie, edited by longtime film journalist Joseph Steuer. Thelma Adams from the Post is there, and she turns out to be exactly as she should be. The photographer Patrick McMullan, who was part of the scene at Studio in the old days and has thrived as the documenter of New York nightlife ever since (we tried to get him to come over to Jersey City for a cameo in the movie, but he's about the busiest guy in New York) is one of the factors in making such business parties seem "fun." When almost no one acts the host, Patrick does. He complains that he was excluded from our premiere party on May 27, which seems incredible, since normally he'd be the key person to invite. I remember noting his absence, but I just assumed he'd bypassed us for more important game. It's too bad, because he would have been great there. The imbroglio has a positive outcome for me as a social climber: While we talk, Patrick takes me and an Australian journalist to a seemingly A-List party at Pravda downtown. Again, it was like the good old days.
       9 p.m.: A-List party. Patrick whisks us past the crowd outside and down the steps into Pravda and introduces us immediately to Veronica Webb at the bar and Mark Wahlberg standing nearby, both quiet and polite. Then it is the table animated by Candace (Sex in the City) Bushnell; NBC journalist Kate Bohner; Richard Johnson of the Post's infamous "Page Six" investigative journalism supplement; and his very charming Belgian wife, Nadine, who has arranged the party to celebrate the opening of the latest Canadian boutique. The party is an amazing Page Six Come to Life and I feel practically like Anthony Haden-Guest, only without the felicitous writing style.
       Cyrus of Slate is making me stop as it's more than five hours past the deadline, so not until tomorrow will I be able to reveal all the details of meeting an entire group of Canadian financial journalists there and our amazing 37 block walk uptown fueled by the residue of cocktails called "Cosmopolitans." We are not in Seattle anymore.
       Meanwhile, do you think there is any possibility of your going to the movie within the next several days? It's getting pretty important to show some box office bulk. Friday would probably be good. Or Saturday. Or Thursday.