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Modern ‘Divorce’ amicable for duo

Director: 'It's a relief not to do a period film'

HOLLYWOOD — Continuing one of the best runs in the movie business — 46 films in 41 years — the Ismail MerchantJames Ivory filmmaking team preemed “Le Divorce” Tuesday at Westwood’s Festival Theater.

Though they’re best known for period pieces, Fox Searchlight topper Peter Rice said the filmmakers were a good fit for a contemporary film set in France.

“They immerse themselves in a culture and get it right,” said Rice. “There’s a specificity for time and place they bring to their movies.”

Producer Merchant downplayed the duo’s rep for period pics (“Sixty-five percent of our films are modern. People don’t pay attention”) and director Ivory agreed (“They don’t remember them. Or they were in school”). The helmer admitted there were some advantages to shooting modern fare in Paris last year, however.

“It’s a relief not to do a period film,” said the helmer. “There are all these things you don’t have to look out for — and you can shoot in the street.”

Among those at the Hammer Museum after-party were Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman; author Diane Johnson; stars Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Stockard Channing, Leslie Caron, Sam Waterston and Matthew Modine; plus guests including Nick Nolte, Rosanna Arquette, Ron Yerxa and Fay Kanin.

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