Party spirit lacking in Cannes as crisis bites

Fri May 22, 2009 10:26am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Thumping dance beats still pound out over the Croisette and cream linen suits, tottering high heels and diaphanous little dresses are much on show, but the party spirit at Cannes is undeniably lacking.

The world's biggest film festival normally attracts stars to a celebrity-fueled riot of receptions and red carpets, but this year the economic crisis has left the paparazzi complaining of unusually thin pickings outside the party marquees.

The biggest stars in town, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, have made themselves scarce, staying away from the glitzy amfAR gala for AIDS research, for example. They did, though, attend the party for "Inglourious Basterds," in which Pitt appears.

Another big name, Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, has been laid low with the flu.

"It's definitely down on last year," said one industry publicist. "The stars just aren't there and the studios are spending a lot less on parties. A lot less."

Television cameramen and photographers stuck on late night line-ups to snap the pictures needed for the gossip pages and celebrity magazines complain of having to settle for lesser stars when the A-listers fail to show.

Instead of "Brangelina," photographers at the amfAR event got rapper 50 Cent, up-and-coming British actor Robert Pattinson and former supermodels Eva Herzigova and Claudia Schiffer.

Publicists put out star-studded lists to attract media to the events they are promoting but often enough the lists are as fictitious as a film plot and the stars fail to materialize.   Continued...

<p>Socialite Paris Hilton and her friend Doug Reinhardt arrive for the amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS 2009 event in Antibes during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 21, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>