For over a decade now, filmmaker and producer Katrina Pavlos has presided over the Grand Classics, a unique salon-type event where a coterie of influencers in fashion, film, philanthropy and the like gather at one of New York's chic screening rooms while a special guest -- typically a film industry heavyweight -- shares a film that has been a particular source of inspiration. Julianne Moore, Sydney Pollack, Holly Hunter, Daniel Day Lewis and Spike Lee are just a few of the many hosts Ms. Pavlos has secured over the years. I guess it was only a matter of time before "God" himself -- yes, that was a reference to Meryl Streep's Golden Globe acceptance speech -- assumed hosting duties. Of course I am talking about Harvey Weinstein, who along with CEO Andrea Illy, hosted an illyCaffe Grand Classics screening of the film that has inspired him the most, the 1930s silent classic City Girl.
Katie Couric, Kelly Rutherford, Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Imogene Lloyd Weber, Amanda Ross, Jennifer Creel and Whitney Fairchild were among the chic city girls who gathered at The Core Club's intimate screening room to view a restored original copy of the film. We also kept ourselves warm and properly caffeinated with generous helpings of Illy's espresso martinis, Cioccolatini Cocktails and Domori chocolate covered strawberries. If the connection between caffeine and artistic inspiration is not immediately obvious, Mr. Illy made it clear in his opening remarks:
Because I'm a chemist, I have to talk about the two molecules for inspiration: dopamine and caffeine. Dopamine is the molecule of pleasure, and when you get pleasure you get inspired. The caffeine is enhancing. I don't know anyone who is successful in life with no inspiration. If this is the recipe for success, then let's live happily.
Mr. Weinstein, who had taken to seating guests himself in order to remain on schedule (which they did -- an oddity for any New York event) spoke next: "You know what's funny," he quipped: "When Daniel Day Lewis got to do this, he got to go to Istanbul. Me? I'm right around the corner. I'm honored to be here because you get to choose the movie and that's the fun part for me."
"When we were doing The Artist," he continued, "I was asked if I had ever seen City Girl. I had, along with many other films by F.W. Murnau." He explained why the film has served as such an inspiration for him:
What Murnau did was study under Max Reinhardt. Murnau was more like a painter. It was less about the narrative, and more about the pictures and the images. In the movie industry, we like to say that when we're really borrowing full-out, we're stealing. Whichever is your guess, trust me, I've done both.
"I certainly think that if you've ever seen Days of Heaven, you will see his homage to this particular film. It is astounding how many shots are similar."
But even with that solid case made, Weinstein wasn't about to leave anything to chance. "If you don't like the movie," he deadpanned, "blame Katrina."