Ivory counts up 'Countess'
WHAT: U.S. premiere of Merchant Ivory’s “The White Countess” Oct. 18WHO: Helmer James Ivory; pic’s Ralph Fiennes Natasha Richardson, Lynn Redgrave and Hiroyuki Sanada; plus scribe Kazuo Ishiguro WHERE: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences in Los Angeles with an after-party at the Four Seasons Hotel WHAT LIES BENEATH: ”All of our films have a similar construction,” Ivory said of his scores of collaborations with late producing partner Ismail Merchant. “People somehow land in an alien place and have to find a way to get on with their lives. This one takes place in Shanghai, yet not one of the major characters is Chinese.” Sanada, a Japanese actor, found himself in his own alien place — an English-language film. “When Ivory first called me to talk about the script, we ended up chatting for well over an hour,” he said. “When I hung up the phone, it hit me — that was my audition.”