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Festival Glamour: Media Events, Packaged Glitz on Tight Schedules

May 25, 1995

CANNES, France (AP) _ Topless starlets still cavort on the sand and cinema legends climb red carpeted steps to the evening screenings, but the big stars don’t stroll down the Croisette beach walk like they used to.

The Cannes Film Festival is a tightly controlled media event aimed at cameras and industry types, not stargazers. Most parties are more like schmooze-fests than glamorous soirees.

Today, the 12-day festival is bigger, faster, and more important to the world’s multibillion-dollar movie industry than in the quaint ’60s, when Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot walked the Croisette.

``I think it’s mostly now a business thing. Selling, buying. It’s the reality,″ Samuel Goldwyn said at a party he threw to promote ``The Perez Family,″ starring Marisa Tomei.

While about 200 guests dined and watched dancers in colorful Carmen Miranda-style getups shake to Cuban strains, beefy bodyguards blocked off a corner of the Palm Beach club so the TV cameras could feast on Tomei.

It’s still ``the most prestigious festival there is, if your movie does well here, then it’s a fantastic thing to happen to it,″ Andie MacDowell told Associated Press Television at the beach party for ``Unstrung Heroes.″ She stars in the Diane Keaton film, which screened at the festival.

There’s little time to lose when a star sweeps in. Interviews and photo shoots are tightly scheduled by the minute on private beaches or on hotel terraces, away from Pierre Public.

The Palace of Festivals, a modern six-story building on the Mediterranean, is dubbed ``the bunker″ for its block-style architecture. Inside, the intense buzz of screenings, press conferences and a trade fair are closed to the public.

That doesn’t keep fans from holding vigil outside hotels for hours to get a glimpse of movie stars. ``It makes you dream,″ said Julie Quertigniez, 18, of the nearby town of Draguignan.

At the MTV beach party, an event in hot demand, hundreds of guests shoved and jostled to get in, but the star factor was low. TV and still photographers were kept in a pit to shoot Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel and a handful of others whisked to a VIP room.

``You see practically nothing. There are some stars, but they’re transported incognito,″ said Joseph Dura, a taxi driver and town councilman in nearby Bar-sur-Loup, as he drove the streets of Cannes.

For those already in show biz, Cannes is still a good place to make contacts.

``Things are far more relaxed here than in L.A.,″ said Emily Lloyd, the 24-year-old English star of ``Wish You Were Here″ who’s in the new film ``Under the Hula Moon″ with Chris Penn.

But even at parties, ``it’s kind of tense. There are people looking at you as a professional actress,″ she said. ``The actors are definitely here to sell films. There is a certain amount of pressure.″

When in doubt, sex sells.

Pamela Anderson, the busty beach bombshell from the TV series ``Baywatch″ peddled her film ``Barb Wire″ with a news conference where paparazzi climbed all over each other to get the right angle. Many of the questions were in true tabloid style.

Asked how many cosmetic operations she has had, Anderson said ``just one.″ She didn’t elaborate, but added: ``I will not melt if I stand next to a radiator.″

On the beach, Donna Spangler of Los Angeles doffed her top to the delight of a huge crowd as cameras clicked and whirred.

``I’d say I’m probably a starlet. I’ve worked on a few movies,″ she told APTV. Bit parts included being a cave girl in ``Dinosaur Valley Girls.″

The festival ``makes Cannes important,″ but the decadence associated with it is another sign that ``we are at the end of civilization,″ said Jacques de Montchamp, a deacon in a white robe, standing outside his church near the palace.

``I don’t say that pessimistically. You are witnessing the destruction of values,″ he said. ``But there will be a renewal, a moral correction.″

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