"Hey Jeff, what are you doing outside?" The reason Jeff Koons and the guy asking, Julian Schnabel, were standing on West Broadway shortly after 7:30 last night was that it was just a few ticks after the party's official start time and the Odeon wasn't open yet. Chanel's Tribeca Film Festival dinner is one where the big dogs arrive early.
And why shouldn't they, given the all-star scene that was to unfold inside: Robert De Niro smooching Naomi Watts on the cheek; Michael Stipe leaning in to chat with Patti Smith; Nate Lowman, toward the end of the night, being showered in peony petals removed from the table settings—and all of it going down at a legendary downtown brasserie, home to plenty of wild memories for New York's creative types. ("I brought Nick Cave here once in the nineties," Chloë Sevigny reminisced.)
Chanel was helping to honor the artists who have donated to the festival. On Thursday, the winning filmmaker in each category will receive a work of art in lieu of the traditional statuette—"something that somebody has contemplated," Koons pointed out, rather than a mere piece of symbolic hardware. Rose Byrne was intrigued. "Is it like a secret Santa, where you can trade if you don't like your sculpture?" she asked. Zach Braff's film, The High Cost of Living, is playing out of competition, but the actor said that if he were up for an award, he'd want it all. "I'll take the statue and art," he declared.
Representatives from the festival jury were circulating. One of them was Lauren Hutton, who's judging documentaries this year and had just come from a screening of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. "I used to love horror shows," she said, and described watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre by herself in a lonely California drive-in. What does it say about the adventuring beauty that nonfiction films are more her beat now? "That maybe I grew up a couple of inches—we hope," Hutton said.