There was a palpable buzz in the Bing Auditorium at LACMA last week as excited guests gathered for another installment of the series "Live Read." Created several years ago for LACMA's Film Independent program by Jason Reitman as a way for scripts to be given new life, the program is usually kept secret, even from LACMA employees, until a few hours before the show. At the ticket booth I was told, "We have to check his twitter account in the afternoon to find out who's coming. Kind of crazy..."
The stage that often hosts venerable movie stars of bygone days, in person or on its silver screen, was filled with stars very much of the moment: Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, Mike White, Topher Grace, John Cho, Anna Kendrick, Ari Gaynor, Sarah Burns and Krysten Ritter. Sharon Stone joined the fun in a nod to another generation. They were assembled and seated behind easels that held the scripts to a film that may not be the first on everyone's list of great American classics: "American Pie."
Director Chris Weitz set up the night by saying "While making this movie, we did not think This is going to get us to LACMA one day. But I did get to make this movie with my best friend, my brother," Weitz said, referring to Paul who stood at his side.
They described the "Live Read" process: "This is a cold reading. Many of these people just met. Some know each other. The rest hate each other...The performance cannot be recorded, photographed or streamed. In fact, I don't even think you should remember it."
Those sentiments notwithstanding, it was a memorable evening. Women played men and men played women, which undoubtedly added to the fun. I never saw the film because I thought it would be too raunchy for my taste. But I got the best of all worlds: a great night, listening to a funny, raunchy but ultimately very sweet coming of age movie that was definitely a lot easier to listen to than it would have been to watch.