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September 28, 2011 9:35 AM

The Topless Paparazzo and Other Tales From the Red Carpet

Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television hosted a red carpet screening at Skylight Soho on Monday night for what they referred to in their press packet as a 'movie event:' the economically-titled "Five."...

Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television hosted a red carpet screening at Skylight Soho on Monday night for what they referred to in their press packet as a 'movie event:' the economically-titled "Five." The carpet in question was a dark periwinkle blue laid out on the sidewalk and trodden mostly by TV stars whose names I had to Google. The humidity of the day hung over the crowd, a nearby bar was open with something unrecognizable blaring from their hanging televisions, the sky was a bruised shade of rose and press was not invited to watch the 'movie event.' 

"Five" is an anthology of five short films that delve into the spiritual, physical and mental impact of breast cancer. Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Alicia Keys, Patty Jenkins and Penelope Spheeris each directed one of the episodes. Throngs of fans, photographers, reporters, PR agents and security team members flooded Hudson street, angling to catch a glimpse of the bigger names attached to the project. Demi Moore's arrival set off a rush of flashbulbs (along with some guttural wails coming from behind the protective railing set up to ward off the overly enthusiastic). There is very little as personally frightening as the struggles within the photo-pit at a red-carpet event. There is a lot of cursing, more shouting, and often a combination of the two. An erstwhile producer had wandered into one photographer's shot of Aniston -- he was greeted with a verbal assault the likes of which I think I saw on the television show "Oz" once. It was colorful. 

In a gesture borrowed from the Roman Emperors, a few of the more notable attendees involved with "Five" opted to send messengers ahead with their bad news. 

"Demi isn't talking to any print publications," one hapless PR flack said. Wyclef Jean was more than happy to talk, but the interest stirred up by his presence quickly dissolved with the arrival of Aniston. The last I saw of Wyclef Jean was his denim pageboy hat at the cusp of a crowd of pushing and screaming security as he was swept away down the carpet and into the screening in the hysteria. A petrified looking Justin Theroux emerged from the far-door of Aniston's SUV, pursued hotly by a nonplussed Terry Richardson. Theroux looked over his shoulder at Aniston before he ducked into the theater undetected, and it was actually kind of nice, and anyway it was easy to understand why he didn't want to walk the carpet with her. Aniston took some televised interviews but like Moore before her and Alicia Keys after her, demurred from speaking with press and made for the theater. 

"Yes?" everyone's favorite Friend grinned saccharinely over her tanned, well-exercised shoulder in response to a thousand questions shouted at once, "Yes." Ostensibly, "Five" focuses largely on breasts. This did not escape the notice of one passerby, a "drag photojournalist" named Harvey Van Toast who was planted across the street. Clad in pale pink jeans, white-blonde curled hair (reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe) and a thinly penciled curled moustache (after Salvador Dali), Ms. Van Toast was entirely nude from the waist up. The effect was distracting. 

On the carpet, Lyndsy Fonseca, of the CW series 'Nikita,' was discussing her turn in the TV movie. "I felt a lot of responsibility with this role, because not a lot of people are aware that younger people do get breast cancer. My character is the youngest person in the film to get it and -- is that woman across the street naked? She is. Maybe she's a survivor... Like, 'hey there, look at these babies!'" Fonseca considered the apparition that was Van Toast, who in turn snapped her photo. "I mean, it affects everyone so widely." Fonseca continued, blinking, "So, you know, get a mammogram. Everyone! Get mammograms!" 

Jeanne Tripplehorn was pleased by Van Toast's apparent support of the proceedings. "I love that. That's what its all about. We're dealing with breasts tonight. I love New York. I love New York," Tripplehorn cried, feigning an orgiastic swoon. 

Patricia Clarkson whooped in the manner of those who make exclamations like "gee whiz" when she spotted Penelope Spheeris halfway down the carpet, clapping her hands and hopping simultaneously before locking her in an embrace.

Like everyone else at this point, Clarkson was interested in the breasts in the room. "Where is she now? The lady without the shirt. Did she get arrested? Oh, no, there she is. Hey, I think it's fabulous. I'm assuming it's for the cause and that she's not just a crazy person. But hey now, I've gotta say, now I'm a little sad I wore a dress." 

As it turns out, this was not a 'You Go Girl' feminist stab at 'the man.' Ms. Van Toast was not leaning topless against a station wagon on Hudson and Dominick street last night to protest the cruelty of breast cancer or make any sort of "Five" related statement. "What's this movie about? I am here to promote myself." Van Toast said rather grandly, "I just got a picture of Jennifer Aniston... Do you want my phone number?" Dear Reader, I didn't.
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