Photo by Erica Child Prud'homme
The guests at last Thursday's premiere of Julie & Julia were all the ones you assume go to glamorous premieres--the stars, the producers, the people who made the movie happen--and also the ones who in an ideal world would be at every premiere and in fact every party you ever went to: the cleverest people in New York.
This was completely unsurprising, given, as Susan Spungen points out, that the guests were the extended friends and family of Nora Ephron. I was agog from the moment Martha Stewart snapped my picture from the wrong side of the red velvet rope to the moment, many hours later, when the waiters at the Metropolitan Club apologetically showed us the door.
I get to share a cameo with Alex Prud'homme and his first cousin, Julia Child Prud'homme, a professional actress in LA. Don't blink!
I leave Susan to report on the real stars, many of whom I got to greet too, including Meryl Streep, of course looking like her beautiful, blonde, ebullient self and not like the dark-haired Julia. But she does embody Julia so completely that Judith Jones, her longtime editor, said at a panel I moderated at the Boston premiere, when referring to a big picture of Julia in the lobby, "Or maybe it's Meryl--I can't tell the difference anymore." (Jones herself, who is portrayed in the movie as the farsighted and canny editor she was and is, was and is more beautiful than she gets to look onscreen.) Streep's performance is as amazing as all her friends were telling her it is and the critics have so far unanimously proclaimed--and will keep proclaiming when the film opens, this Friday.
Judith Jones's contended confusion was shared by many of the other people who knew Julia as long and as well as she did--and even longer. The old guard was in full attendance, by which I mean the literal guard: the lawyers, trustees, and friends who actively maintain the rights to her image and work. The fact that they gave their blessing to the film and wanted to come to the opening after they saw it is as strong a signal as I can think of that Ephron and Streep could not have done better by Julia.
Both Julie Powell and Eric Powell were in the same room as the actors who adorably play them, Amy Adams and Chris Messina, which led to no little tennis-style head-swiveling from the guests who met them.
I closed the joint with Julia's nephews on both sides: Samuel Cousins, an architectural designer and furniture maker in Easton, Pennsylvania who is the son of Julia's sister, Dorothy, wonderfully portrayed in the movie by Jane Lynch as the looping, tall, just-as-strong-as-Julia character she was; and Alex Prud'homme, the great-nephew of Paul Child and the author of My Life in France, one of the two books the movie is based on.
I get to share a cameo with Alex--a writer finishing work on Troubled Waters, a book on water, its taste, and its politics that will come out in the spring and that I expect to frame future discussions on the subject--and his first cousin, Julia Child Prud'homme, a professional actress in LA. Don't blink! It comes after Julia meets her two future collaborators, and accompanies them from a very elaborate mirrored powder room to the salon. Julia Prud'homme gets a speaking part, too, as a bridge teacher during Julia's What-will-I-DOO-with myself early Paris phase. I got to meet his parents, people I'd been hearing about for a long time--since 1977, to be exact, through another relative of theirs.
Alex's mother, Erica Child Prud'homme, sweetly sent a picture of Alex and me. It reflects the high, warm spirits we came in and went out with when, after 1:00, the waiters informed us with the most doleful kindness that they really had to clear our table. It was like saying goodbye to Julia--something none of us wanted to do.