Dave Wheaton, Melodee Meyer, Kymberlee Weil, and Mark Sylvester
Shannon Kelley

Last Thursday night was one of those fabulous evenings that make me really love my job. But not for any of the following reasons: not because, deep in the throes of nicotine withdrawal (currently, in the form of lozenges, employed to get me off smokes, adopted, again, as substitute for the patch, undertaken to absolve me of the gum, enjoyed to wean me from the dastardly cigarettes in the first place-do you notice something of a pattern here? And WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME?) I found myself bumming a cigarette from none other than the night’s honoree himself, Ed Harris; nor because my meal consisted of one of those perfectly cooked, textbook-tender pieces of beef; nor because the photog seated beside me had an iPhone he checked obsessively, and politely handed over so I could read the gossip-I mean news-regarding the veep debate (by golly, doncha know).

Nope, it was just one of those nights that boasted friendly, pretty peeps in a lovely spot-the recently reopened Coral Casino at Montecito’s Biltmore-on a staggeringly beautiful late-summer S.B. evening, all going down in the interests of movies. And, this being the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s third annual Kirk Douglas Award Celebration, I knew I was in for one of my favorite things in life: a quality movie montage. (Okay, okay, the smoke helped. And I was really stoked on the steak. But seriously. There are few things in life I love more than a montage. And Ed Harris! Who doesn’t love Ed Harris?)

Love was in the air, and Harris supporters and colleagues on recent (Appaloosa) and upcoming (Once Fallen) projects were everywhere. The night improved as it wore on: even despite all the aforementioned loveliness, the program was the clear highlight. Kirk Douglas, still going strong, was as charming and hilarious as ever, saying that in the early days of Ed Harris’s career, he never knew his name, “I just called him ‘that good actor,'” that “When I got here tonight, I said, ‘I don’t think I can talk,’ and my wife said, ‘There’s a microphone; you can talk.'” Or when he spoke of how he’s so proud of his wife’s charity work building playgrounds. “I said, ‘Honey, I’m so proud of you; how can I help?’ she said, ‘Get a job!’ So Ed, tonight’s the night!”

Harris’s wife, Amy Madigan, was adorable, enthusiastic, and proud, introducing her guy, and Harris kept the love and the laughs flowing, saying, “Let’s face it, it’s such a special gift to be alive” (um, how much do you love him?), waxing poetic on his admiration for Douglas, saying if someone had told him when he was a little kid watching Spartacus that one day he’d be eating dinner with Kirk Douglas, there to present him with an award, he never would have believed it. Then he deadpanned: “But, the night’s not about you, it’s about me.”

Say it ain’t so, Joe. And here I thought it was all about me.


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