James Toback: HBO’s ‘Seduced and Abandoned’ Is a ‘Film Not Like Any Other’

Alec Baldwin, James Toback, Martin Scorsese
StarTraks Photo

The Gotham premiere on Oct. 24 of HBO’s “Seduced and Abandoned” was not your typical documentary affair. The attendance of A-list helmers Martin Scorsese, Barry Levinson and Bennett Miller as well as a posh filet mignon sit-down dinner at the Porter House made it an unusual nonfiction event.

“We want to welcome you to the New York Bar Mitzvah party for James Toback,” said HBO’s Richard Plepler while introducing the film. “Most Bar Mitzvah boys only get one party, but James is so talented that we gave him two — one in L.A. and one tonight. We are very proud of you.”

Shot during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, doc follows Toback and pic’s producer Alec Baldwin as they try to find financing for a loose remake of “Last Tango in Paris.” Along the way actors including Ryan Gosling and Jesssica Chastain, filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola and Scorsese, as well as execs Jeffrey Katzenberg and Mike Medavoy reflect on their own careers and the industry.

Despite being billed as a doc, Toback said he didn’t think it fit neatly into any film category.

“This film is not like any other,” the helmer explained. “And that’s my aim. I want to make movies that have interesting things to say and make them in a way that is unfamiliar and new.”

Whatever it was Toback shot in Cannes, Baldwin said he loved the experience.

“We could have shot for another month,” Baldwin laughed. “We didn’t want it to end.”

As pic’s producer, Baldwin emphasized how important Cannes was to the film. “(James and I) both knew that it couldn’t just be that gag of us trying to get the money and the doors being slammed in our face,” thesp said. “It was really more than that. We had to have it against the backdrop of Cannes because Cannes is so unique.”

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