Tuesday night Warner Bros. hosted the press at El Cielo on Burton Way to meet and greet the Michael Clayton gang: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton (man, she's tall), Tony Gilroy and Tom Wilkinson. Clooney, clutching a tall clear drink that he didn't sip once, recalled that on the very first day of filming Tony Gilroy stuck him in a jail cell to film Tom Wilkinson's opening tour-de-force monologue. That knocked him for a loop, Clooney said. Wilkinson had thought it would just be done in voiceover, but they actually filmed the scene---and then looped the whole thing over afterwards anyway.
Clooney is heading over to Dubai, where he shot Syriana, to do a Film Festival panel about Darfur--he said the moderate countries like Dubai and Egypt are the ones that can have an impact on what's going on in Darfur--more than America.
Why were films like Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck embraced by audiences while the more recent rash of political films have not been? "People like ambiguity," Clooney suggested, admitting that he had not seen all the films. "They don't want to be told what they should think."
That's as good an answer as any.
Wednesday night on the Paramount lot, Sweeney Todd wowed the industry crowd. Steven Spielberg, Stacey Snider, David Geffen, Walter Parkes, Dick Zanuck, Tim Burton, Sasha Baron Cohen, John Logan and a fedoraed Johnny Depp were all on hand. Geffen brought Rita Wilson over to talk to Depp, who gamely hung out and posed for photos until well past 11 PM, and kneeled down for a shot with wheel-chaired actress Rose Marie (Sally Rogers on the Dick Van Dyke Show). The throng also included Ron Meyer, Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Shandling, Martin Short, Joe Drake, Jon Feltheimer, Joel Silver, Gary Ross, Wesley Strick, and Arianna Huffington. Paramount exec Rob Moore, who is getting a promotion soon, beat a hasty retreat after the screening. Director Michael Mann, who will direct Depp in his next as Chicago thug John Dillinger, was also there. The Envelope's Tom O'Neill snapped photos and posts a podcast.
Most folks liked the movie while at the same time many refrained from eating the miniature creme brulees that were being offered around--they looked like pies. Burton said he timed the movie instinctively, adding more music but cutting back the opening Sweeney Todd chorus, which they recorded but never shot, because it just didn't feel right. What I like best about the movie is that it is utterly Burton's. No one messed with it, he confirmed: no testing, no rejiggering for any reason. It's just the movie I wanted to make, he said.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]