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December 12, 2007

The sickest premiere


By Randee Dawn

Richard Matheson created an apocalyptic world full of "the infected" in his 1954 novella, "I Am Legend." Could he ever have envisioned that the movie based on his book would spawn a totally sick premiere? By sick we mean ill, and by ill we mean awesome. You know, in kids-today lingo.

At Tuesday night's New York premiere and post-bash for Warner Bros.' "I Am Legend," excitement for the anticipated blockbuster spread through the crowd like a plague, gripping people in the contagion...(OK, we'll stop now). This was no ordinary premiere screening; the studio had rented out the Theater at Madison Square Garden, capacity 5,600, which gave the event all the giddy electricity of a Beatles concert circa 1964, particularly when Will Smith took the stage pre-movie.

"I want to apologize to all the citizens of New York City for shutting your streets down," Smith joked with the crowd. "Now, some of you gave me a very distinct American symbol of displeasure as you were riding by in your cars, so I understand!"

Later, select guests headed downtown to the Maritime Hotel's Hiro restaurant, which had been outfitted with a dance floor, a DJ and Doug E. Fresh to keep folks moving, in the anticipation that Smith would perform. (He didn't, but he's still the man, as Tom Cruise points out in the red carpet photo).

Instead, the crowd, which included Ron Howard, Ice-T and the president of production at Warner Bros. Pictures, Jeff Robinov (soon to be president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group) chowed down on steak and salmon. Some of the suits even ended up on the dance floor, jumping around and waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care. Like feral deer roaming the streets of New York, that's just not something you see everyday.

For Robinov, this was the end of a decade-long pursuit to get "Legend" made. "It's a project I sold when I was an agent -- the guy who wrote the draft originally, Mark Protosevich, was a client of mine. So I've been around the project a while, trying to figure out how to get it made!"

A giant budget and a huge international star seems to have done the trick.

The good news for fans of the film is that there will be a lot of extras on the home version. Promised co-screenwriter and producer Akiva Goldmsan, "We played with the ending in a bunch of different ways, and shot about an hour of movie that's not even in it -- all of which will be revealed in DVDs to come."


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

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    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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