Big Stars! Bright Lights! Cannes! Cannes! Cannes! The Film Festival Up Close!

Welcome to Cannes!

Welcome to the French Riviera, one of the most beautiful places in the world, a sleepy, happy retirement community where the locals play boules for hours in the town square…

Beautiful, classic hotels like the Splendid overlook the French Riviera, where people from all over France flock to the beaches to lay out and get some sun…

You can also sit on one of the iconic blue chairs and look out at the Mediterranean…

Or take a walk along the water and stop at any number of places to enjoy the view…

You can stop by a kiosk for some food, drink or glace…

Or get what I usually get: a club sandwich on a french baguette…

Take a walk, grab a sandwich, then do what I do – turn off the cell phone and tell the world that “I am in a meeting right now…”


Oh, as it turns out, one of the most beautiful places in the world just happens to be home to the world’s most prestigious film festival!

This is the Palais du Festival, where the world’s greatest filmmakers arrive to showcase their movies to the world. Cannes 2012 begins on May 16th, and this is a look at the festival and the fun I’ve had there – this is me one year – in a meeting…

I was lucky enough to go to Cannes a dozen times, where I saw the world premieres of “Pulp Fiction”, “Breaking The Waves”, “Moulin Rouge” and many more…and interviewed a bunch of great film makers and stars…it is one of my favorite spots in the world… a place where, at any time, someone can take their top off and get a crowd to take a picture…

The Croisette!

This is the french riviera at its most beautiful – Cannes is just a few miles south of Nice, and about a half hour from Monte Carlo…this sleepy seaside town comes alive once a year when thousands of film execs, stars and journalists converge for the Cannes Film Festival…this year is no different! Here we are overlooking the Croisette one year at the festival…

The 2012 Poster!

Here is this year’s official poster. A classic, iconic picture of Marilyn Monroe – who, interestingly enough, NEVER attended Cannes!

For twelve days and nights, movies are screened here at the Palais du Festival, the most important movie theater in the world…

The famed red carpet is filled with stars, fans and yes, paparazzi…

I witnessed shoving matches and fistfights as these photographers fought for the perfect shot of a big star…it is a delirious madhouse…

Alex was with me many times – like this picture of us taking a break during filming one year for E!

As you can see, Alex caught Michael Castner relaxing before a shoot…and Alex also ran into John Lithgow once!

It a madhouse, one of my favorite jobs ever, and I vow to go back next year with good friend Steve Kmetko, who not only interviewed big stars for us every year, but also hung out with our friends from Troma…

One of my favorite trips to Cannes was when both Steve and Jules Asner hosted E! News from the festival, as well as 3 hours of specials…the best Anchor team I ever worked with…

One year, Host Michael Castner famously referred to the legendary Carlton Hotel as his “home away from home when he’s in Cannes”…

The Carlton is home to the famous $18 glass of Sancerre on the terrace….

The old town of Cannes is beautiful and serene – and just a few steps from the madness of the Palais…

We were here many times with our good friend Nicole…and we always found time to get pictures of our trip…

These are some of my favorite pics of me and Alex as well…because, while we were working crazy hours, we were having so much fun…

And we always loved this picture of Michael Castner –

Michael And The Terminator!

One of our earliest trips involved interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger behind the Carlton Hotel…we had five minutes, and Michael used every one…

And we also interviewed Jean-Claude Van Damme many times at the festival….this time at the famed Hotel du Cap…

And I will never forget running into Jack Nicholson one year, and the awkward picture that resulted…

Cannes Books!

There are a couple of great books about the festival – plus more pictures from my trips….and one terrific documentary as well!

Hollywood on the Riviera: The Inside Story of the Cannes Film Festival – by Cari Beauchamp and Henri Behar

Here’s a book that looks at the history of the festival – in a fun and feisty way! Beauchamp is also the Author of a great book about female writers in early Hollywood called “Without Lying Down”.

From Library Journal: Beauchamp offers this revealing and exciting romp through the world’s most important film festival: Cannes. Her first chapter revels in gossip and name dropping, which effectively sets the scene for her treatment of the machinations of the international film marketplace.

Importantly, Beauchamp goes into detail about the festival’s history, its many roles in shaping worldwide media, and the complexities of the interactions of critics, stars, the jury, agents, producers, distributors, and directors.

The Iconic Robert Mitchum Photo Op!

This is a legendary Cannes moment: Robert Mitchum being “surprised” by the topless starlet at a photo op – this was seen around the world and helped cement Cannes reputation!

Borat! No!

A more recent worldwide sensation was this photo op by “Borat!”

Two Weeks In The Midday Sun

Here’s a little-known gem of a book: Film Critic Roger Ebert documented his two weeks at the Cannes Film Festival – one of the most entertaining and chaotic things I ever had the pleasure of attending…

Here is what Amazon says: “Ebert’s journal of the annual two-week movie circus known as the Cannes Film Festival is about as nourishing as a croissant, but like that airy pastry, it’s fun to devour. The book is full of movies; gossip; characters with strange lifestyles, some of them actors, others more prosaically rich; and egos running amok at the 1987 festival (the 40th)”

I interviewed Ebert for E! in the mid-90’s, as we were producing 3 hours of TV specials capturing the official and unofficial craziness of the festival. I remember that Ebert told us that he once found a guy selling movies in the basement of the famed Palais du Festival BY THE POUND!

As celebrities were walking up the steps of the Palais, hundreds of paparazzi would fight to get pictures of the stars…it’s a surreal experience to be part of, and this book really captures the inside look at the festival.

Roger Ebert is a terrific writer, and of course a brilliant film critic…this short book is a really fun way to go to Cannes!

Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide, 4th edition: The Essential Companion for Filmmakers and Festival-Goers (Chris Gore’s Ultimate Flim Festival Survival Guide) – by Chris Gore

Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide is a great guide to film festivals in general, including Cannes! Entertainment Weekly loves Gore’s book, calling it a “treatise on schmoozing, bullying, and otherwise weaseling one’s way into the cinematic madness known as film festivals.” The newly revised and updated fourth edition includes full listings for more than 1,000 film festivals, with complete tips and contact information, plus in-depth analysis of the Big Ten festivals.

All The Love You Cannes!
2002. Full disclosure: I am in this movie. I am. It might be a single b-roll shot while Lloyd mentions me in passing, but hey, I’m a Troma star!

Here we all are in Cannes one year: E! News Host Steve Kmetko, who allowed my wife Alex, along with James Gunn, turn him into “Dolphinman” for “Sex On The Riviera”. Lloyd is on the left, by the way…

Every year I was in Cannes, Lloyd and his Troma team were up for any shenanigans…and their tireless energy is captured in Lloyd’s documentary about life at the Cannes film festival.

Tiffany Shepis on the left and James Gunn on the right were always ready to film special stunts with us to capture the craziness of Cannes…we had a lot of fun with them, and they are terrific people!

If you want to see the best documentary about the pomp, circumstance, and sordid underbelly that is Cannes, “All The Love You Cannes” is the movie for you!

Places like Cannes are crucial to an independent studio like Troma – they attract international buyers, they get screenings for their films – as well as lots of press.

The Troma Team is willing to try every stunt imaginable to get a little publicity, including walking the streets of Cannes dressed as various Troma heroes, staging lesbian make-out sessions, hilariously crashing Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “press conference,” where JCVD shows up for about 2 seconds.

Thanks, Tiffany!

As I said before, Troma Star Tiffany Shepis was there many years, and I was lucky enough to shoot a ton of segments with her and Troma when I was at E! – and Lloyd and his group were always eager to help us out. I love this documentary, especially when Lloyd harasses the Warner Brothers Exec’s dog…a great sequence in a terrific documentary!

Oh, Lloyd will say that I’m the reason Troma was thrown out of the Carlton Hotel…he might be right, but it didn’t take much for Lloyd to start flinging blood around, trust me.

One year Alex and I will go back again to the festival…to get more great pictures of us….and the town!

Categories: Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Foreign Films, Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Travel Memoir, Troma Films, TV Show, Uncategorized

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4 replies

  1. I recall many of those same memories John.
    Appreciate you tossing the many opportunities to experience such a magnificent event.



  1. Cannes French Riviera Charm! Soup de Poisson! Cannes Sandwiches! | johnrieber

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