The sad news of Robin Williams’ death, announced an hour before the premiere of “The Giver” last night at New York’s Ziegfeld Theater, cast a sad shadow over the entire evening. Reporters received the tragic news on the red carpet shortly before celebrities arrived.
Based on the Lois Lowry young-adult novel, the Weinstein Company film has a mystical message about the importance of memory and emotion, which seemed to heighten the sadness and sense of shock everyone felt about Williams’ death. Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, who star in the film, didn’t comment on the red carpet about the comic’s passing although Streep said she still had to process the news. Both seemed in shock.
The film focuses on a young man, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), who lives in a seemingly ideal but colorless world of conformity, a world without pain, conflict or war, but also without love. Daily injections given to all the community members keep them in a blissed-out state. Jonas is chosen to be the sole keeper of the community’s memories under the guidance of The Giver (Bridges). As his senses awaken, Jonas falls in love – an emotion long banished by the community – with a young woman (Odeya Rush) and decides to flee, taking with him a child, with whom he has become attached. Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Cameron Monaghan, Alexander Skarsgard and Emma Tremblay round out the cast.
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Before the screening, Harvey Weinstein reminisced about RobinWilliams. He told the audience about making “Good Will Hunting” in 1996 with Williams, who received an Oscar for best supporting role. “I promise you, if he were onstage, he’d want the party to continue and continue and continue. He is well missed and well loved, and whatever the circumstances are, he was a giant in our industry and more importantly, a great man.”
Weinstein also had good words for Meryl Streep. “As great an actress as she is, she’s better as a person.”
He then introduced a choked up Jeff Bridges. “It’s very difficult for me to be here with all these emotions and feelings,” Bridges said. “My dear, dear friend, Robin Williams. Such a brilliant human being. My heart goes out to his family.” Then his voice broke. He looked up at the ceiling and said he could feel Williams’ tell him, “Get on with it, Bridges. Get on with the show.”
The “Crazy Heart” Oscar-winning actor introduced the cast, producers, screenwriters and author Lois Lowry. Taylor Swift got the most attention and biggest applause by excitable fans that later had to be persuaded to take their seats.
Before the screening began, rock band OneRepublic, headed by frontman Ryan Benjamin Tedder, sang the film’s song “Ordinary Human,” a song pitched to him by Scooter Braun, a rock impresario and executive producer of the film.
Afterwards, celebrities and guests headed to the Central Park Boathouse for the after party. On the gorgeous lakeside courtyard, Katie Holmes, lovely in a pink flowing dress, mingled freely. What a difference from her days with Tom Cruise where at every premiere she had an army of security guards between her and guests.
Jeff Bridges chatted with guests and posed for endless selfies. At his table we spotted director Spike Lee. Meryl Streep arrived and stayed briefly, while there was no sign of Taylor Swift at all. The party was subdued, but still fun.