Music and film fans may have come to the Toronto International Film Festival's world premiere of "12.12.12" for the documentary's flashy mix of live performances and backstage footage from the star-studded Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at Madison Square Gardens, but they stayed for the post-screening gossip.
That's not necessarily a slight against the film itself, which was chock full of stunning footage of performances from concert stars like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney -- and the remaining members of Nirvana, who get a surprisingly passing mention -- and augmented with a number of delightful and often unexpected backstage moments.
Paul McCartney's efforts to convince Alicia Keys that he's as cool as his daughter Stella are particularly amusing. And Chris Martin's stunned delight when Michael Stipe says that he wants him to sing along to "Losing My Religion" during the performance is almost enough to obliterate any Coldplay and/or GOOP-related stigma the singer has accrued over the years.
But nothing came close to torrent of named names and unbridled bitterness that the concert promoter and Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein dished in the post-screening Q&A with his fellow event organizers James Dolan and John Sykes and doc producers Amir Bar-Lev and Meghan O’Hara. Some of the things that Weinstein willingly shared with the sold-out crowd at Toronto's Wintergarden Theatre left Bar-Lev, the film's director, visibly stunned at some of the things he'd missed while he was filming the event.
First of all, Weinstein gleefully confessed that he'd sold a sit-down with "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart for charity funds. Apparently the "Prince of an Arabian country" was offering to pay top dollar for a fifteen-minute chat with the chronically awkward actress.
Weinstein called Stewart and filled her in on the situation. "She said 'How much?' My kind of girl," he quipped. The mogul and the prince were eventually able to agree to a $500,000 donation. In cash. The prince, Stewart and a number of bodyguards enjoyed a lovely fifteen minutes together during the concert. (The concert went on to raise $30 million.)
Weinstein was even more forthcoming, not to mention venomous, when a member of the audience asked if they'd asked Led Zeppelin to play the concert.
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As it turns out, they had. Weinstein was convinced that an appearance from the band's remaining members could significantly increase the amount of money that the benefit could earn for victims of the hurricane. So he approached Robert Plant.
"We get an OK from Plant if Page will do it... Jimmy Page doesn't want to do it," Weinstein explained with a dramatic flair. "Jimmy Page's lawyer... Maybe he works for Satan? Maybe he is Satan?"
Undeterred, Weinstein asked Hillary Clinton if she could lend her considerable diplomatic skills to the cause. She didn't think that she'd be the best person to talk Led Zeppelin into reforming, so she recruited her husband Bill.
Former President Bill Clinton took up the cause. "Bill talked to the group and Jimmy told him no," Weinstein said with barely concealed rage.
Still, he wasn't ready to give up just yet. As a last ditch effort, Weinstein asked President Barack Obama for help. Unfortunately, getting Jimmy Page to raise money for hurricane relief isn't quite as easy as tracking down Osama Bin Laden.
"Jimmy Page struck out Obama and Bill Clinton," Weinstein sighed. "That will live on in infamy."
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