NEW ORLEANS — It was arguably the most piquant and purposeful premiere of the year, the screening and after-party for “All the King’s Men” on a sultry Saturday afternoon in post-Katrina New Orleans.
“We’re celebrating a piece of Louisiana’s literary and dramatic history,” exuded Gov. Kathleen Blanco, on hand to welcome the 600-odd guests to the affair at Tulane U.
Screenwriter-director Steve Zaillian continued the theme: “We fell in love with this city and state working here for six months. It’ll take more than water to wash New Orleans away.” Pic was shot in and around the city shortly before the storm struck Aug. 29, 2005.
Producer Mike Medavoy told Daily Variety he had just the day before screened the movie for author Robert Penn Warren’s daughter, whom he said “was moved to tears.”
“All the King’s Men” centers on a populist Southern governor who mightily resembles the state’s notorious demagogue Huey Long, and its themes definitely struck a note with the locals.
“This is the most important premiere I’ve ever been involved with,” said N.O. native Patricia Clarkson, who plays a hard-bitten political operative.
With co-stars Jude Law and James Gandolfini, Clarkson planned to stay over for a fund-raiser for the city Monday night.
Blanco even declared star Sean Penn, who plays corrupt politician Willie Stark, “one of Louisiana’s heroes” for his post-Katrina work helping out in the deluged city.
Sony brass said it was “a no-brainer” to hold the premiere in the Crescent City. “We wanted to give back and be involved with the rebuilding efforts as well as support our film,” said Sony chairman-CEO Michael Lynton. He was flanked by Amy Pascal, Jeff Blake and Valerie Van Galder, plus the Sony execs who oversaw the pic, production prexy Doug Belgrad and exec VP Amy Baer.
Also on hand were N.O. mayor Ray Nagin and James Carville, who helped spearhead the movie and is also a Louisiana native.
Naturally, there were local bands to dance to and local delicacies to savor, including turtle soup from Commanders Palace, whose chefs were on hand to mix the brew despite the restaurant’s being still out of commission.