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Shootout Producer’s Diary: Stalking Roman Polanski, Waiting for Moore

Editor’s Note: Gary Marks, an executive producer with
AMC’s Shootout, is tracking his experiences doing the show from
Cannes. You can see segments from the interviews with Moore and Polansky by clicking their names.

Here’s how TV production is like life: you never know what’s going to happen next.

The day started in just about the most pleasant way possible. We had Sarah Polley booked as a guest. She’s a juror, and as I said previously, she wrote and directed a very moving film, “Away From Her,” starring Julie Christie. I arrived at the hotel where she was staying, went up to her room, accompanied by our French make up artist Alan, and hung out with her while she had her make up applied. (She’s staying in the same hotel as is Roman Polanski, so I kept my eyes peeled for him – no sign.)

Sarah Polley is lovely, gracious, humble,, self-possessed, and very talented. See her film. You’ll know. Make up applied, we hopped into an official Festival car to speed through the traffic to the Palais, where our crew was waiting to tape an interview right in front. Access to the Palais steps for a set is rarely, if ever, given, and the interview turned out very well.

(Ed. Note:

And then things got dark. The Weinsteins called to inform us that
the last chance to see a screening of “Sicko” was that afternoon. We
juggled our schedule for the Peters to attend, but when we got to the
premiere, they couldn’t get in. Peter Bart and Peter Guber haven’t
really stood in line to see a screening of a movie since the beginning
of their careers. But, there they were standing out in the hot sun.
And, they were turned away.

For awhile, it looked like the Peters wouldn’t be able to see the
film before they interviewed Michael Moore. But then, Sara Rothman, a
publicist for The Weinstein Company, discovered what had happened and
quickly called to remedy the situation. A time was found when the
Peters could see the movie, and the interview stayed in place.

Meanwhile, Roman Polanski was now officially MIA. He hadn’t
responded to any of the notes we left for him at his hotel. We were
worried and decided to go to the hotel to find him. Many stars walked
passed us through the lobby, but Polanski wasn’t one of them. We
decided to send someone back later to, basically, stalk him until he
knows his call time.

And at 9:30 we shot the opening of our show, right next to the crowd
at the Palais. Nobody ever gets there. We executed that “Where’s Waldo”
shot I talked about in an earlier blog entry. Fantastic.

While we were in the middle of shooting the show open, Thomas
Lebette, our crack field producer we hired from Paris and assigned to
stakeout Polanski, texted us to say that he had ascertained Polanski’s
room number, still no sign of him, and he was now several glasses of
wine down.  And, then, as we wrapped, Thomas called once again to say
that Polanski had finally showed, and Thomas sprung into action and
approached him. At first, Polanski thought he was a fan, but then
Thomas said (in French, which was part of the reason we sent him),
"Don’t you know who I am?" It at least made Polanski pause long enough
for Thomas to explain what he was doing there. Quickly, they negotiated
a pick up time for the morning, and Thomas left, the Polanski interview
secured.

I was so tired, but still wildly exhilarated from the successful
crush of the day. I bounded into the hotel, heading for the bar to have
a celebratory drink. As I moved through the lobby, a key crew member,
who had been waiting, intercepted me.

He had fear in his eyes and explained  that he was having heart palpitations and had called a doctor. The doctor came and recommended that he return home to get it checked out. And, of course — not wanting anything unexpected and serious to happen — we agreed. In TV, even when you never know what’s going to happen next, you can fix it in post production (the editing room). 

But that’s how TV production is not like life.

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