A pile-up of events are crowding this week in LA. Brit Week kicked off Tuesday with the annual champagne party at the British consul general's mansion in Hancock Park. BAFTA producer Nigel Lythgoe's six American Idol kids roamed the lawn followed by cameras, soaking up attention. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa introed Royal cousin Lord Freddy Windsor, who raised a toast to the Royal couple, and eschewed the fish and chips.
Twitchy rocker James Durbin, the likeliest Idol winner, insisted that he never tires of pressing the flesh. I introduced bass-player Casey Abrams (skinnier in person, who was later voted off the show), who wants to move to London, to Monty Python's Eric Idle, who advised him to never brave the British weather. Jacob Lusk, who has gained 25 pounds since the start of the show, has no plans to sing gospel but wants to chase the whole pop R & B kaboodle. He, Abrams and cheery Lauren Alaina want to act as well as sing, they said. Scotty McCreery won't change the way he holds the mic, he confessed: "It's totally unconscious."
Other folks on hand were Michael Apted, Sir Ben Kingsley, Matthew Rees, Julian Bond, Skeet Ulrich and Jacqueline Bissett.
Thursday night marked the launch of TCM's second Classic Film Festival, with Leslie Caron hosting a restored print of An American in Paris. Pricey passes to the classic films and panels this weekend are mostly sold out, though some individual tickets may be available. (Here's their daily blog.) New to the schedule are Julie Andrews presenting her late husband Blake Edwards' Breakfast at Tiffany's as well as Drew Barrymore discussing her grandfather and uncle, John and Lionel Barrymore, whose last film together, the rarely screened 1933 World War I aerial drama Last Flight, is being shown. More details here.
And this weekend brings a venue change for the LA Times Fest of Books, from UCLA to USC. I will be covering many panels-- there's much to choose from.
Saturday a busy David Ulin interviews Peter Bart and Peter Guber, followed by Patti Smith and Dave Eggers (must-see), and later moderates a panel devoted to David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel, The Pale King. The Hollywood Golden Screen panel includes Cari Beauchamp, Jennifer Grant and Sam Irvin. A. Scott Berg interviews Edmund Morris. Jonathan Alter and Katrina Vandenheuvel join the panel "Obama: Two years In." Janet Fitch intros T.C. Boyle. Richard Rayner moderates a fiction panel including Jennifer Egan, followed by an interview with Michael Connelly. Ex-LA Weekly editor Laurie Ochoa joins a literary journal panel. WSJ critic Joe Morgenstern interviews magician/author Ricky Jay.
Sunday, Thomas Curwen interviews Carolyn See. Jon Wiener talks to Vincent Bugliosi. Carolyn Kellogg grills Jonathan Lethem. Erin Aubrey Kaplan faces Walter Mosley. LATimes reporters Stephen Zeitchik and Rebecca Keegan join the Hollywood: Under Bright Lights panel, along with stuntman/director Hal Needham. Patt Morrison meets Maxine Hong Kingston. Left Right and Center's Robert Scheer discusses the economic crisis with Tom Petruno, Mark Paul and Roger Farmer.
An embarrassment of riches.
[Photo of opening night at TCM Classic Film Festival, Mickey Rooney and Leslie Caron.]