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Celebrating the Magic of Tony Curtis at the Million Dollar Theater

By Eric Richardson
Published: Sunday, May 31, 2009, at 11:43PM
Magic of Tony Curtis

On June 13, the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation will be presenting The Magic of Tony Curtis at the Million Dollar Theater.

The event will feature screenings of two Curtis films, "Houdini" and "Some Like It Hot," and a dinner with Curtis at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where Houdini himself was a member.

To find out a bit more about the event and how it came to be, we emailed some questions to Jules Verne Festival Vice President and co-founder Frédéric Dieudonné.

ERIC RICHARDSON: You've got a packed schedule planned for June 13. Run us through the line-up of events.

FRÉDÉRIC DIEUDONNÉ: Most exciting events are coming up Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday June 13, indeed. We will be honoring Hollywood legend Tony Curtis all day long—and even at night. Festivities start at 2:30 pm at the lavish historic Million Dollar Theater on Broadway, with a special HOUDINI event: before the screening of this beloved George Pal's Technicolor classic movie, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Tony in-person will be interacting on stage with magician and escape artist Curtis Lovell II. As a tribute to Tony, a brilliant and glamorous incarnation on screen of iconic magician Houdini, Curtis Lovell II will attempt on stage the original Houdini water torture cell escape stunt! Plus, Tony himself will put the handcuffs on Curtis Lovell!

Then, at 5:00 through 6:30 pm, for those who wish to have a chance to interact more privately with Tony, there will be a VIP cocktail party at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, with an appetizer buffet with champagne and book signing session of his most recent autobiography 'American Prince: A Memoir'.

At 7:30, back to the Million Dollar Theater, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Billy Wilder's all-time classic SOME LIKE IT HOT, co-starring Marilyn Monroe. Introducing the projection—a brand new 35MM copy—we will screen a tribute montage highlighting Tony Curtis's career, present him the Jules Verne 'Légendaire Award' for 'Some Like it Hot', and have a nice and laidback Q&A with him. From 10:00 pm, I wouldn't miss the 'Some Like It Hot' Speakeasy After Party at the Edison lounge.

ER: How did this event come about? Who had the idea?

FD: Like millions of movie-goers throughout the world, Jean-Christophe and I grew up on Tony Curtis. As kids, we had a chance to discover his finest movies and roles in classic theatres or on television. But beyond his remarkable talent as an actor, there's something more about Tony Curtis, that we somehow felt from the start for us, before we knew it: he embodies freedom and audacity. He's a rebel in his own way. And he has gained the status of genuine American Prince—to quote the title of his book. He was never jaded or prisoner of any system. Above all, he symbolizes the very reason why we created the non-profit Jules Verne Festival 17 years ago: you must never give up your dreams. His true love for life, for the public, for arts, you just feel it, naturally. Despite a bunch of setbacks, he keeps enjoying each and every moment of it, because he has kept what makes humankind move forward: curiosity, and that right little spark of passion, always ready to ignite and experience new adventures.

We had realized an old dream by welcoming and honoring Tony Curtis at Paris historic Grand Rex theatre, at the 2005 Jules Verne Festival. What a blast! People from all over the country kept chasing his chauffeur through the streets of Paris just to have a chance to see him. As we got to know him during his stay, we discovered that what we felt about him through the screen proved true. From there, a strong and long-time relationship, built up on respect and affection, started with him, as well as with his wife Jill, who has always been so considerate and helpful to us.

So when we realized 2009 should mark the 50th Anniversary of SOME LIKE IT HOT, we started working on pulling off a great event with Tony in attendance. And we really wanted to make it happen on Broadway, in a gorgeous classic venue as the Million Dollar Theater.

We are most happy and grateful to be working with Mitzi March Mogul and Hillsman Wright, from the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, whose commitment and dedication have helped us make the whole project possible. It shall be the beginning of a creative partnership, meant to bring back great movies and major stars to invaluable and legendary theatres such as the Million Dollar.

ER: Tell us a little about Curtis Lovell, the magician who will be performing.

FD: That's another "magic" story: when we started working on this project, we thought it would be nice to feature two Tony Curtis movies instead of one, in order to make the event even bigger and exciting. Tony has made a lot of great movies that have become classics: as HOUDINI ranks among them, it was on the list. And then, by total coincidence, an email popped up in our inbox: Curtis Lovell II presenting his work as a magician and escape artist. Jean-Christophe got in touch with him to know more, and found out his inspiration to become a magician was... Houdini! Plus, his first name is Curtis. He travels the world performing incredible stunts and tricks, and among others, he has recently appeared as a guest on E! to cut Paris Hilton in half. Now, we had to figure out a way to involve Curtis Lovell II in the show and have him interact with Tony Curtis—and this of course had to by followed by the screening of the movie.

ER: If you had to wrap all the reasons why someone should buy tickets to come see the show into one sentence, what would it be?

FD: If you like it hot, don't hesitate: buy your 'Magic of Tony Curtis' ticket today!

Tickets for "Houdini", "Some Like It Hot" and the dinner with Tony Curtis are available on the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival website.

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