Friday, May 24, 2024

Robin Williams’ Death Casts Pall Over Gala Premiere for “The Giver” in NYC


Everyone got the news of Robin Williams’ tragic death just as the premiere for “The Giver” was taking shape at the Ziegfeld Theater. Star and producer Jeff Bridges had famously co-starred with Robin in “The Fisher King.” Meryl Streep was also old friends with Williams. Harvey Weinstein, who brought “The Giver” to the big screen, had gotten Robin his long sought after Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “Good Will Hunting” in 1998.

On the street, I had the unfortunate task of informing “Radio Man”– aka Craig Schwartz– the inspiration for the look of the Fisher King, whom Robin played. Williams had flown Radio Man to the Oscars and other events for years, with Whoopi Goldberg he bought Radio Man bicycles, etc. In front of the Central Park Boathouse, where the post-party for “The Giver” took place in earnest, Radio Man told me: “Jeff just came over and the two of us just cried. I’m in shock.”

Streep did the red carpet and made a brief appearance at the party. Bridges stayed for a bit at the party, chatting with Spike Lee and with “The Giver” director Phil Noyce before finally calling it a night. At the premiere, he and Weinstein each spoke about Williams before the show started, but it was more like they were in shock.

Also at the premiere: Katie Holmes, who’s terrific in “The Giver,” with her lovely (and wise) parents, plus Taylor Swift, who has a cameo in the movie. The group OneRepublic played their song from the movie in Ziegfeld before the curtain went up. They were very good. Also spotted: moguls Jim Dolan of Cablevision and Ron Burkle.

It was not an easy night. And the film’s quasi-religious message made for a somber experience. Nevertheless the beautiful looking film is spot on for fans of the novel on which its based. Author Lois Lowry has seen it three times and is a big big fan.

More on Robin Williams in my next post. He was just about the nicest, funniest most “normal” guy, a total joy who loved stopping by premieres and parties. Last night people who’d worked with him on various sets recalled his generosity. Everyone here knew how Robin had swooped in and took care of Christopher Reeve and his family after Reeve’s accident. What a terrible terrible loss.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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