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People / 'Gatsby' director owes Cannes

May 15, 2013


Baz Luhrmann might never have gone on to direct "The Great Gatsby" or anything else, for that matter if not for the Cannes Film Festival.

"No Cannes, no me sitting here with you," Luhrmann said in a recent interview.

When Luhrmann opens the 66th Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with the international premiere of "The Great Gatsby," it will be an emotional return for the Australian director. In many ways, the festival is the site of his birth as an international filmmaker.

In 1992, the 29-year-old Luhrmann had completed his first film, "Strictly Ballroom," a small-budget drama about a striving, unconventional ballroom dancer in Australia, based on a play Luhrmann had developed. The film, made for $3 million, had struggled to find financing and failed to ignite interest at home.

But as Luhrmann and his wife-to-be (and regular production designer) Catherine Martin were driving up the Australian coast "to lick our wounds," Luhrmann got a call from Cannes offering the film a spot in the festival's Un Certain Regard sidebar.

Fate had interrupted and Luhrmann was en route to the most prestigious film festival in the world.

"That moment it opens, a security guard leans over and says to me, 'Monsieur, from this moment on, your life will never be the same again,' says Luhrmann, still thrilled by the memory. "That is the beginning of my life in film."

Future is Crystal clear

There are apparently a few more Sundays left in Billy Crystal.

The star of "City Slickers" and "When Harry Met Sally" said Tuesday he will reprise his funny and poignant one-man autobiographical show "700 Sundays" on Broadway for a 9-week stand this fall.

"700 Sundays" was a Broadway success during the 2004-05 season, playing to sold-out houses and winning a Tony Award for special theatrical experience. Crystal took it on the road, both in America and abroad.

Hader departing 'SNL'

Bill Hader is leaving "Saturday Night Live" after an eight-year run.

His spokesman confirms that the 34-year-old comedian will depart "SNL" after this weekend's season finale.

Hader joined the NBC show in 2005 and made his mark with a range of impersonations including Al Pacino, Vincent Price, James Carville and Stefon, the "Weekend Update" correspondent.

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