I enthusiastically told "Game of Thrones" exec producer David Benioff, with wife Amanda Peet, that he should direct the movie version of his book "City of Thieves"; he sounds scared of the challenges posed for a rookie filmmaker by the World War II snow-bound Leningrad setting. I suggested that he shoot it on location with Russian money.
Much-lauded filmmaker Norman Jewison ("Moonstruck," "Fiddler on the Roof") was the keynote speaker. "You people are crazy," he said, "but that's Ok, because here's how I see it. We need you, because we need you to entertain us, yes, but also to give us a little insight into ourselves, our nation, our society, a little insight into the other guy's point-of-view, in the end, to remind us that we're all in this together... When things are tough, that's when we need to tell stories the most. In the weeks to come you're going to walk a mile of red carpets. Some of you will win something and some you will not. Believe me, none of that really matters. Just remember these stories and how lucky we are to be in this crazy mixed up family."
Saturday brought the Independent Spirit Awards brunch at BOA on Sunset, with another subset of the movie world. Jeremy Renner and "Silver Linings Playbook"'s David O. Russell and Chris Tucker networked, along with "The Invisible War" director Kirby Dick, Focus Features' James Schamus ("Moonrise Kingdom") and Fox Searchlight's Nancy Utley and her "The Sound of My Voice" filmmaker Zal Batmanglij, who's debuting his follow-up "The East" at Sundance, and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" director Benh Zeitlin and star Quvenzhane Wallis. As soon as the awards season is over Zeitlin will head back to New Orleans to start the long, laborious process of finding the locations and building the script for his next in-the-works film, which will be made the same way as his last. He is reading no scripts. And Searchlight has the first-look.
Ava DuVernay told me that she had only enough money to release her Sundance-director-prize-winner "Middle of Nowhere" on 50 screens, that was it. The movie cost $200,000 and she came out ahead. Next up: pushing another indie film up the financing mountain, and a 30-minute doc segment for ESPN about Venus Williams' fight for equality at Wimbleton.
At the BAFTA Tea at the Four Seasons, old-time Oscar rivals, "Lincoln" producer Kathleen Kennedy and "Silver Linings" producer Bruce Cohen, recalled that they have competed twice before, when "American Beauty" beat "The Sixth Sense," and "Milk" went against "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." "Lincoln" star Sally Field joined us to complain about the Critics Choice Awards.
Two other rivals were at BAFTA: "Silver Linings" backer Harvey Weinstein and Sony Pictures Classics' co-president Michael Barker, who's happy with his Oscar chances for "Amour," which is up for five awards, and docs "The Gatekeepers" and "Searching for Sugar Man."
When I asked Kathryn Bigelow if she thought that Sony had presented "Zero Dark Thirty" as too much true story and too little fiction, she looked me in the eye and said, "I would not change a thing."
On Golden Globes Sunday, my daughter Nora and I went from the chilly tented Fox viewing party, packed with Globes and Oscar nominees from "Life of Pi," "Hitchcock," "Homeland," "Lincoln," and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (where "Life of Pi" composer Mychael Danna's score marked the big win of the night) across the parking lot toward the Beverly Hilton and its slew of parties. On our way to the Weinstein party at Trader Vic's, we passed Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber and Damian Lewis heading toward Fox, and followed "Skyfall" star Daniel Craig and wife Rachel Weisz down winding narrow stairs and corridors to the hopping party, where Harvey Weinstein hobnobbed with Sony's Howard Stringer and Netflix's Ted Sarandos, and Quentin Tarantino accepted our congrats on his way to join producer Stacey Sher and Leonardo DiCaprio in the "Django" area, where the tall star had given his tuxedo jacket to his shivering lady friend.
Jubilant Globes host Tina Fey attended the 4th floor NBC Universal fete, along with "Les Mis" winners Jackman and Hathaway, Universal's Ron Meyer, Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley, Working Title's Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Liza Chasin, and co-stars Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne and "Hyde Park on Hudson" star Bill Murray, Saturday Night Live's Seth Myers and 50 Cent.
Getting into the HBO Party was a 40-minute wait, but inside was MacFarlane, Mel Gibson, super-tall Kobe Bryant, and Lena Dunham (sitting with "Girls" crew Adam Driver, Allison Williams and Judd Apatow). And class-act Jason Isaacs played along with our Globes photo series of Nora in the foreground and oblivious celebs behind.
At our last party of the night, Warners/Instyle, Affleck was long gone, but there were still mountains of Godiva chocolate and a pounding disco beat.