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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Sharon Stone, Gore Vidal, Paul Sorvino, & Seymour Cassel on Getting High? Only in Beverly Hills

Award Winners, Honored Guests, Turn Up for BH Film, TV & New Media Festival


by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent


There should be a sign on elder statesman Gore Vidal that reads: "Beware! Deadly When Served A Martini." Unfortunately, at the Beverly Hills Film, TV & New Media Festival last night at the Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills, guests were more likely to be familiar with the other Vidal (Vidal Sassoon). 


No matter, the irascible Mr. Vidal, who has had the ear of Presidents and pundits for generations, was in attendance with "my dentist, who has cured black tooth! Saved millions of children." That would be Dr. Hessam Nowzari, a periodontal honcho from USC's Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, who made a documentary, "The Enemy of The Smile," that is being screened as part of the festival's offerings.


Vidal was just the opening act for an Opening Night of surprises. 


Sharon Stone, stunning in black ribbed silk, showed up with director Emmanuel Itier to pick up a Humanitarian Award for their current release, THE INVOCATION. [See our review on FilmFestivals.] 


Paul Sorvino and Seymour Cassel received Lifetime Achievement Awards along with Martin Landau. (Mira Sorvino was smuggled in, as were other stars in attendance.)


Slated to run through Oct. 28, the BH Film Festival is expertly run by the unlikely trio of: former Playboy model-turned-actress Donna Spangler, Stand-up comedian (entertainment lawyer by day) Felix McNulty, and Nicole Holland, Executive Editor of Independent Film Quarterly (IFQ). 


Here are some interview highlights from the red carpet, or "tapis rouge" as we say in France:




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Seymour, how did you get talked into this?

SEYMOUR CASSEL: They thought I was dying.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Gore Vidal was here, did you miss him?




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: He was so sarcastic, it was hilarious. He was in a wheelchair and used the f-word!




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Anyway, how do you feel about getting this honor tonight?


SEYMOUR CASSEL: I've had about 10 of these things. And you know, it's because I've been lucky. I've worked for 50-some years.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: And you're an incredible actor too, that helps.


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Oh, look at me when you say that! (SMOOCH)


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: I get a kiss for that? Thank you.


SEYMOUR CASSEL: I like what I do.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Were you at Dennis Hopper's memorial?


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Yeah, I went up to Taos (New Mexico). 

I knew Dennis when he didn't have a dollar. 

Dennis had flunked the Actors Studio, and I was just studying in New York with Stella Adler. 

Dennis says, him and his buddy: 'Did you ever smoke marijuana?' 

I said 'No.' 

He said 'Ya wanna?' 

I said 'Yeah.' 

He (lights up a joint) and goes 'heee, hee, he.'

Then I go 'heee, hee, he.'


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: That was your first time getting high? 


SEYMOUR CASSEL: There were a thousand times after that.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: After that, but that was your first time? With Dennis Hopper? 




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Anyway, which of the movies that you've made do you love the most?




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: John Cassavetes! 


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Yeah, John Cassavetes.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: John, and Gena Rowlands, wow, that was back in the day. 


SEYMOUR CASSEL: I loved it, I got nominated for it. 

And I loved STATEN ISLAND, with Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio. 

I was the only one left alive. 

And I played a mute.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: A mute? That's very difficult!


SEYMOUR CASSEL: I was really good; you do it all with your eyes. (Shouts to Driver) Did you get the cigars?


VALET ATTENDANT TO SEYMOUR: Hey, there's no smoking on the sidewalk in Beverly Hills, you might get cited.


SEYMOUR CASSEL: F*ck that! The place is right (across the street), go get the cigars!


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Seymour, you're missing Paul Sorvino; he just showed up right behind you.


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Where's Paul Sorvino?



PAUL SORVINO, Hey, what's up?


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Paul, how the f*ck are you?


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Now you're right up there with Gore Vidal and the f-word! 


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Nah, it's great to see you Paul. How are you?


PAUL SORVINO: We're both looking at the ground from the right angle!


SEYMOUR CASSEL: Looking at it, instead of under it... How long have we know each other? Paul how old are you?




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Paul, are you going to beat up Seymour later?


PAUL SORVINO: No. We're old pals. We go way back.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: How do you feel about getting this award?


PAUL SORVINO: I think it's lovely. Hey, so what is the story with this place? It's noisy because of the music, or the people?


SEYMOUR CASSEL: It's noisy because of the music, there are so many people talking. You can't hear anything. Hey Pauly, after this we're going to go to the, uh, Cigar Room.


PAUL SORVINO: Yeah, but we gotta go in and do this thing now, accept the awards.


SEYMOUR CASSEL: I know. I get pulled all around! I mean afterward.




QUENDRITH JOHNSON: You must really be supportive of (THE INVOCATION), showing up here tonight.


SHARON STONE: I'm very happy to be involved with the film and help it get some exposure and to be seen around the world because it is such a lovely picture.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: I've seen the film. Do you love that puppet or what?


SHARON STONE: The puppet is my favorite.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: There is something really cool about (Puppet-ji).


SHARON STONE: (Laughs) The puppet is the most evolved of all of the speakers!


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: He speaks the most truth actually.


SHARON STONE: He does. He's the most honest speaker.


QUENDRITH JOHNSON: Everyone's glad you're here. There was some worry -- 'is she coming? Is she coming?' Were you surprised it got the Humanitarian Award?


SHARON STONE: No. I think it is really nice. It's a good name (The Humanitarian Award), and a very beautifully made film.



"We can be so much more, so much greater -- if we just breathe in the possibility of exhaling a greater self. That even in this moment, all of us collectively can become a greater 'one-ness.' We can come into this room tonight as the possibility of one thing, and we can leave with a 'greater self.' You can turn to the person next to you and just accept them. You can turn to (someone) and go 'you know what, I think I'll like you.' Instead of (the judgement)..."

"Stop the judgment, stop the pettiness, stop the smallness, and say 'I'm going to accept you, I'm going to embrace you, it's okay.' And stop the bullshit... what happens if this room tonight is the last room you got to be in? What happens if this was it? Wouldn't it just be so great if this was the place you found love, friendship, dignity, and decency? And possibility? What if this was it?"

"You know, I have had to face that possibility where I was right up against the end, and I can tell you this for sure -- it would have been great to be standing there in love."

"So I can ask you, take a look around the room and say 'if you were the only chance I had, I sure could love you.' Because you can. So turn around to the person next to you, and go ahead and love them. Thank you."


The Beverly Hills Film, TV & New Media Festival's full list of honorees and winners includes Jackie Warner for Achievement in Reality Television; The Jackson Family for Achievement in the Arts; Cindy Margolis for Pioneer in New Media & Internet; LisaRaye McCoy (former Premier of The Turks & Caicos Islands) for Outstanding Achievement in Film & TV; Jenn Proske for Best New Actress. [More information can be found on the festival's website, or contact Donna Spangler or Nicole Holland for details.]

# # #


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About Quendrith Johnson

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