In the Buff with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes


Fox Searchlight’s premiere of The Sessions at the LACMA mixed Hollywood glam, the L.A. art scene, and true-life inspiration: The movie, which is based on the experiences of California resident Mark O’Brien, is about a man who didn’t let his iron lung stop him from going to college, becoming a journalist, or losing his virginity. The screening and after party raised awareness for O’Brien’s story, and, being in—OK, near—Hollywood, it was chalk full of L.A. moments.      

Paparazzi Let Down
Out front, non-celebrity guests accidentally and not-so-accidentally photo-bombed A-listers as they posed on the red carpet, forcing the photographers to put their cameras down and yell, “Step out of the way, please!” William H. Macy gave me a sly smile as I inconspicuously slid my elbow in his shot. Also on the red carpet were The Sessions leading man John Hawkes, who looked dashing in his suit and Peter Fonda.   

That Awkward Moment When…
Before the screening, writer-director Ben Lewin took the stage to talk about sex,  the movie, and more sex. It was fitting as The Sessions tackles that very subject matter and what it means for people with disabilities.  But perhaps the most interesting moment was during the movie, when Helen Hunt, who plays sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Green, stripped down to teach Hawke’s character the ins and outs of intimacy. Maybe awkward is a better word, as both Hunt and Green were in the theater. 

Let There Be Truffles
The after-party, held in the small courtyard outside the theater, was understated and elegant. Good-looking caterers roamed from table to table with small bites, but I didn’t get excited until the “chocolate tray” went by. So excited, in fact, that I chased down a waiter to get seconds and bumped into a few unsuspecting party guests along the way. One such guest was Mr. Lewin’s accountant, Barry Bernstein, who was soft-spoken as we talked about the disposition of Angelenos. Also near the chocolates (and incidentally another Californian) was Jennifer Kumiyamay, who stars in the film. After I congratulated her on an excellent performance, she shared how she hopes word of the movie will spread and bring awareness to people with disabilities, a community of which she is a part.   

The Sessions is playing at select-theaters now.










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