F9/11 Premiere: Pool Report
Your pooler arrived at the stately Uptown theater at 7:10PM. Evening was hot and muggy; Harvey Weinstein, spotted leaning against the outside of the theater and smoking, was tieless and rumpled. The "red carpet," such as it was, seemed to be reserved for only those whom the assistants at the will-call desk recognized. The pool was guided to a second, red carpet-less entrance. Here we saw the event's sole representative of the vast right-wing conspiracy, the National Review's Byron York, there as press.
Spotted in the lobby: a bevy of sub-celebs who may or may not have qualified for the red carpet (your pool apologizes for not staking out the entrance more thoroughly). Bevy included CNN's Judy Woodruff, Margaret Carlson, Bill Press, Al Hunt, TNR's Peter Beinart, Hillary Rosen (formerly of the RIAA), Terry "the Macker" McAuliffe and genuine celebrity Sally Field. (Overheard: "The only celebrities I've seen are Sally Field and Michael Moore." Does Moore count?) We include only those who appear with any regularity on television. . . a run-down of print reporters present would exceed available time and patience.
By 7:45PM, the pool and Mr. Pool are unable to find two seats together on the first level of the stately Uptown theater. Adjourning to the balcony, spot Weinstein again and a Meg Ryan-less Howard Fineman, who is notably nonviolent in his scramble for a seat. The balcony is not without its share of the famous-for-D.C. contingent, including 9/11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, Press, MNBC's David Shuster, Rosen, and F9/11 supporting cast member and Bloomberg reporter Dick "Stretch" Kiel. A small school of Kerry staffers sits together, as do two beleaguered DNC staffers.
Opening speeches from Weinstein and Moore. Weinstein notes that his mother (the Miriam of Miramax) chose the movie's release date -- June 25 is her wedding anniversary. Harv also invents a parlor game for those present: "Figure out who in your row is an undercover agent of the RNC." Big laughs. Hilarious because it's not true. Case in point: Moore gets a standing ovation for simply setting foot on the stage. (Admittedly, this might be a big accomplishment for him.) Moore defends the charge that the film is "preaching to the choir" -- "Well, it's good to give the choir something to sing. They've been quiet for a long time." Veiled insult to messageless Kerry campaign?
Flint, Michigan is mentioned by name three times, lost count of references to "where I'm from." Harvey is granted pseudo-Flint citizenship; Moore says the second biggest man in the room is from the "Flint of New York." (Queens?) Moore's celebration of the movie's big opening and presumably broad appeal is summed up by his declaration that "All of America is coming down this [red] carpet," an directive that someone forgot to give the people at the will-call table.
At 8:10ish lights dim. Movie starts. Notable crowd reactions: Smattering of applause at the sight of any Democratic congressperson. Audible disgust at clip of Paul Wolfowitz spitting his comb before running it through his hair. Cheers, guffaws at clip of Bush's "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. . . Now watch this drive" double-take. Notable crowd lack of reaction: Silence at a joke made at the expense of Daschle and Gephardt. Ben-Veniste may have dozed off.
Your pool left at 9:30 to start her journey to the no-man's land of "Scarborough Country," thus missing what later was described as a very moving speech by Lila Lipscomb, who appears in the film mourning the loss of her son, a soldier in Iraq. Most memorable quote, according to sources: "George Bush calls himself a 'war president;' well, I am a war mother."