I'm on night four of my London stint. I actually wasn't supposed to arrive until tonight, but was among the lucky folks invited to participate in the "Fantastic Mr. Fox" mania and my stay was bumped up a few nights care of 20th Century Fox. And I figured I oughta relay the intense glamour that was my bonus time here.
Like a good few dozen other North American internet journos, I got put up at the Dorchester Hotel for the three-day blitz that was "Mr. Fox"'s premiere. My flight arrived late Tuesday, so I missed out on the train ride to Roald Dahl's estate, which some colleagues noted was quite the experience. So essentially my only task for the three days was to see "Mr. Fox" and attend its press conference. The rest of the time, I lived like a princess.
The Dorchester is unbelievable. London's leading luxury hotel, Wikipedia boasts it has had the following tenants: Britney Spears, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Warren Beatty, Yul Brynner, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Mariah Carey, Tom Cruise, Judy Garland, Johnny Depp, Dame Edna Everage, Charlton Heston, Nicole Kidman, Joan Collins, James Mason, Arnold Schwarzenegger... as well as Peter Sellers and Kenneth Horne, both of whom died there.
I must say I have never felt more awkward in my inability to seem rich or famous. The service workers are trained to somehow all know your name ("good day, Mr. Net," I'd hear whenever I encountered anyone), and are pretty intense in their duty to ensure your pampering. Par example, I had ignorantly never heard of housekeepers "dressing down" a room at nighttime.. and came home somewhat drunk at 3 or 4 in the morning to find my comforter was missing and napkins were laid out around the bed. I called the front desk and said, "Um... My comforter is missing. And there are napkins all over my floor." They then informed me that housekeepers had gotten the bed ready for my rest and that the napkins were placed so my feet wouldn't be cold coming in and out of bed.
Eventually I started getting used to it. Fox had handed us a hefty pound-per-day allowance (which I somehow went 90 pounds over - mostly due to internet costing 20 pounds a day alone), so every morning I'd have incredible omelettes, back bacon and coffee delivered to my bedside that in total cost essentially the equivalent of 100 Canadian dollars. I trounced around doing my daily indieWIRE duties in a silk bathrobe drinking coffee out of china cups and butting cigarettes into silver ashtrays. And when I'd return home from nights out, drunken meals never tasted as good as 38 pound pesto penne.
But then this morning it was all over, as the "Mr. Fox" mania subsided and my more general duties of London Film Festival coverage came into their full force. Not to say I'm complaining. My new digs ain't so bad either, and I must acknowledge that he folks at the London Film Festival are among the most organized, efficient and kind I've ever dealt with at a festival. And it's quite interesting to come into this right after covering Toronto and New York. Watching the variation between the biggest cities in the three most-populated English speaking countries each putting on their major annual film event. I'll easily state that, so far, I'm enjoying myself here more than the previous mentioneds, though may or may not have a lot to do with how endlessly fun this city seems to be once the movies are over. Anyway... so while I'm no longer a princess, being a journalist at a festival like this is still a privileged state indeed.