Guests at Monday’s premiere of HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge” would be forgiven if they thought they turned right in Chelsea and found themselves in a Maine fishing village instead of the heart of Manhattan’s fashion district.
The mini-series follows a prickly math teacher, her long-suffering husband and her resentful son in a multi-generational story of love, regret and endurance set in an unassuming coastal community. In keeping with the setting, the party planners at HBO dressed the Altman Building with picnic tables and outfitted servers with flannel shirts. The crowd of A-listers munched on comfort food that included lobster rolls and chicken pot pies while sipping drinks out of mason jars. All that was missing was the smell of salt water and the sound of distant ocean buoys.
Frances McDormand, who plays the film’s title character, was front and center on screen at the SVA Theatre and in the festivities. Her presence loomed large because she was the person who first read Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and recognized its potential. She fought to bring it to screen, HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo said in his opening remarks.
He lauded McDormand as “a woman whose talent and life force is reflected in every frame of this film,” adding, “Without you, this couldn’t and wouldn’t have happened.”
Guests included Strout, stars Rosemarie DeWitt and Richard Jenkins, director Lisa Cholodenko, HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Mira Nair, Zosia Mamet, Cherry Jones, Lorraine Bracco and “The Wire” creator David Simon.
For party favors, they received bags of cinnamon sugar donuts, a reference to Olive’s favorite munchie, as well as the two final episodes of the mini-series. “Olive Kitteridge” debuts on HBO on Nov. 2.