CATFIGHT IN CANNES: JURY CHAOS

The 2009 Cannes Film Festival seemed a little boring on the face of it, but now we have an out-and-out catfight leading up to tonight’s closing ceremony.

The Croisette is buzzing (finally! sacre bleu!) because head juror Isabelle Huppert has refused to let another Isabelle, Adjani, present the Palme d’Or award at the show.

In fact, Huppert, I am told, won’t allow any other French actresses on the stage tonight at the Palais. I’m not kidding when I tell you this, either. Apparently, Huppert is loathed by her fellow jurors and by the Festival officials.

The result: a call went out around town to find all the male actors from movies that played here over the last two weeks who are still in town.

Luckily, several of the actors from Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” have stuck around, hopeful their movie will win a prize or two tonight. Even’ Tarantino is still here, as well as many of the Basterds–except for Brad Pitt. He and Angelina Jolie left immediately for New York on Friday because Jolie is filming “Salt” and, well, they have six children. Someone had to look after them!

But the Cannes Catfight is a great French saga here. Several French films are in the running for prizes. Not only that: the ceremony is in French! Like the opening night, it’s a big deal.

So, at last: some drama for the big finale. Me? I’m sitting next to a good translator, that’s for sure!

OPRAH, MARIAH, AMFAR BLAME IT ON CANADA

The annual Amfar dinner, “Cinema Against AIDS,” took a hit financially this year, with only $4.5 million in receipts. Hey–$4.5 mil is better than nothing, I say. Anyway, AmFar will soldier on through the recession. The word is they’re planning a “Cinema Against AIDS” at this year’s Toronto Film Festival in early September. The dinner will probably not be hosted by Harvey Weinstein, who they say wants to keep his AmFar I.D. with Cannes. That’s smart. Toronto should have a whole different cast of characters. They certainly have a lot of musical talent to draw on.

And — guess who’s coming to the Great North? Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry will be on hand to present Lee Daniels’ “Precious” in a big way. This wonderful film is a lock for lots of awards later this year. And since Mariah Carey is so good in it, maybe she can be the AmFar performer! Wouldn’t that be a hot ticket, and a great way to raise money for AIDS research?

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