Cannes party critic: dream job not for the faint of heart
Among the world's dream jobs, party critic at Cannes must surely rank near the top, but one lucky practitioner says it's not all stars, sex and bubbly.
Scott Roxborough, who reviews galas, soirees and bashes for film industry bible The Hollywood Reporter, said stamina, a strong stomach and the gift of the gab are indispensable.
In what has become a closely watched tradition at the world's premier film festival, the magazine ranks the key parties on a scale from one to five martini glasses using a strict set of criteria.
"It's location, star power of the attendees including the business players like Harvey Weinstein, food and liquor, music and we always deduct points for VIP rooms," where the movers and shakers can hide from the riff-raff, he told AFP at a beach party for Jodie Foster.
Roxborough, 40, said he has seen everything from the spectacular to the sleazy in his decade covering fetes on France's sun-kissed, Champagne-soaked Riviera, and says his first remains his favourite.
"I think it was 2001, it was 'Moulin Rouge' and it was just phenomenal. They had put up a big circus tent, the music was Fatboy Slim and on the dancefloor it was Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and the whole cast with the can-can dancers," he said.
"The party was so hopping that (Australian media mogul) Rupert Murdoch stood up on a chair just so he could get a better look at what was happening."
He said smaller companies such as French distributor Wild Bunch made a name for themselves with legendary blow-outs.
"They would put on crazy, insane things up in a huge villa. They brought in all these massive bouncy castle structures but adult-sized and then they had a sleaze section," he said.
"There were lap-dancers and stripper poles. They tried to get strippers but they didn't think they were hot enough so they flew in prostitutes from Paris. They filled a whole bubble bath and had 'fishing for bimbos'.
"Not the most P.C. of parties but it was just crazy. You thought 'what is this? where am I?' It was like a film set."
The prize for best shindig this year, he said, goes hands down to Red Granite, a big US film financing company.
"You could smell the money burning. The music was by (rapper) Pharrell Williams opening for Kanye West and Jamie Foxx came on to perform 'Gold Digger' with him and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jon Hamm and Bradley Cooper were there and it was just completely decadent -- wine flowing everywhere, fantastic food and fireworks," he said.
Roxborough, who manages to maintain his day job as a business reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, said most companies saw themselves duty-bound to supply an unforgettable night.
"You present yourself as amazing and glamourous and powerful to put on a party like this. The reason we cover them is because they're an integral part of this festival and an integral part of the film business," he said.
"But the smartest companies don't put on a party at all. They have a dinner or something and count their money."
Roxborough's favourite get-togethers are often put on by smaller countries.
"I was at a Kazakhstan party a few years ago and they took over a club and went nuts. They were dancing on the tables, smashing bottles, screaming and it was one of the most incredible parties I had ever been to," he said.
"We had the problem afterwards of how do we judge this. There were no stars, there was no real food -- just liquor. So we gave it five exploding powder kegs."
He said anyone envious of his work should know it's not all glitz and glamour.
"I tell people I do this and they're like, 'You go to parties and that's your job?' But it can be pretty stressful because you have to do several a night," he said.
"Over a period of 10 days, you're just physically destroyed by the end of it."
© 2011 AFP