Antonio & Pedro go between covers

'Almodovar Archives' launch takes place in Beverly Hills

The Taschen bookstore in Beverly Hills was so packed on Wednesday night for the launch of “Pedro Almodovar Archives,” it’s a wonder the fire marshal wasn’t called in to administer some sanity to the proceedings. And yet, in true Pedro Almodovar fashion, leggy cocktail waitresses and hunky manservants still managed to navigate the elbow-to-elbow throng with trays of vino.

Almodovar held court from a second-floor window, like a potentate addressing worshipful admirers, who included Carla Gugino, Matthew Weiner and David LaChapelle.

Antonio Banderas introduced the director, recounting the first time they met. A friend told the thesp, “His name is Pedro Almodovar; he made one movie, and he will never do a second one.”

Almodovar recalled those early days as emerging from the dark age of Franco into a more permissive time. “We could be crazy,” he said, “and we had the right to be crazy.”

– Steve Chagollan

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L.A.’s annual Cinema Italian Style festival kicked off in the most scenic manner possible Thursday, with a brunch at the cliffside Beverly Hills home of Dino De Laurentiis, who passed away one year ago at age 91, and to whose memory this year’s edition of the fest is dedicated.

Martha De Laurentiis, Terry Gilliam, “Terraferma” helmer Emanuele Crialese and much of the film’s cast were on hand to present a recently unearthed clip of a teenage De Laurentiis performing a small role in 1939’s “Batticuore.”

Later, Gilliam shared how he had been bribed with pasta to helm his new “filmette,” titled “The Wholly Family,” shot on the streets of Naples. “My wife thought I was having an affair with a city,” he said.

– Andrew Barker

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“I don’t usually like to sing for my supper — even such a good supper,” said Andrea Bocelli, who nonetheless offered a rendition of “My Way” at an informal dinner to launch his new foundation. The dinner at the home of actress Jo Champa and her husband, Joe Farrell, was attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lu Parker, Taylor Hackford, James Horner, Jim and Ann Gianopulos and Peter and Phyllis Bart.

Bocelli also saluted in song his pregnant fiancee, Veronica Berti, saying that his first child will be a daughter.

Champa is producing a banquet for the Andrea Bocelli Foundation on Dec. 9 at the Beverly Hilton.

– Variety Staff