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CELEBRITY

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"Celebrity," Woody Allen's latest film, is a contemporary comedy that takes place in New York City and revolves around the romantic and professional aspirations of a dynamic group of individuals

"Celebrity," Woody Allen's latest film, is a contemporary comedy that takes place in New York City and revolves around the romantic and professional aspirations of a dynamic group of individuals. Set within the glamorous worlds of filmmaking, book publishing, fashion and television, the movie takes a wry and poignant look at the ways in which love can be lost and found and how, much as we like to think that we can control our heart's fate, in fact, we can't. In addition to his portrayal of romantic longing, Mr. Allen turns his highly perceptive eye and camera on the phenomenon of celebrity, the pursuit of which for many is equal to the quest for love. "Celebrity" stars Hank Azaria, Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Famke Janssen, Michael Lerner, Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron and many others. Written and directed by Woody Allen, "Celebrity" is a Miramax Films release of a Sweetland Films presentation of a Jean Doumanian production. It was presented at the Venice Film Festival and has been chosen as the opening night selection for the 36th New York Film Festival. It will open in theatres nationwide in November.

Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis star as a divorced couple whose paths briefly cross as they pursue new lives. When we first meet Ms. Davis, her marriage has recently ended and she is lost in a vague malaise as she tries to come to grips with the reality of her situation. A chance meeting with a television executive played by Joe Mantegna transforms her life - they fall in love and marry and she becomes a television celebrity. "She's an inhibited, in a sense, half-formed woman who's been in a marriage where she was dominated and willingly so," states Ms. Davis of her character. "In the course of the film, through a series of circumstances, she does really radically transform and they're not circumstances that she goes after, they come at her. So she says 'yes'." "She's lucky," says Mr. Allen of the Davis character who finds happiness, ironically, by becoming the sort of woman that she used to disdain. "In playing her, my tendency was to want to make moral judgments on what she was becoming," says Davis. "But I think Woody would say that's not relevant. She's happy and yet she's in a dilemma."

Branagh is a celebrity journalist who has fallen in love with the glitz of fame; he pursues a number of unsuccessful connections with a series of beautiful women played by Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder and Famke Janssen. At the same time, he attempts to ingratiate himself with a number of famous people who might be useful to him professionally including a beautiful actress, played by Melanie Griffith, and a young actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

"Kenneth's character to me was a guy who, perhaps if he had gone a different route, was capable of better things," says Allen. Unlike Davis, Branagh's romantic course is far less satisfying. "Often people look around too much. They think that there's always something better to be gotten elsewhere," says Famke Janssen who plays Branagh's girlfriend, a New York book editor who encourages him to return to serious writing. "There's an undercurrent of melancholia, a certain kind of emptiness to his life because he's been chasing all these shimmers," says Branagh. "When I first read the script I thought it one of the bleakest I'd ever<

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