This is Part 4 of Chapter 114 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "When I Paint My Masterpiece -- Part 3", the previous section.
The narrator is Ben Bruckner, featuring Ron Rosenblum, Brian Kinney, Justin Taylor, Jimmy Hardy, Tess Hardy, Michael Novotny, Diane Rhys, Debbie Novotny, Vic Grassi, Freddy Weinstein, Dolly Weinstein, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: The aftermath of the 'Olympian' premiere. Los Angeles, November 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
I have to admit that from the moment 'The Olympian' begins to unfold on the screen I am totally caught up in it. I know that Ron is a good director and that Jimmy Hardy is an Academy Award winning actor, and I've read the book the film is based on numerous times, both for pleasure and to teach in one of my Gay Lit classes, but I'm still not prepared for the impact this film has on me.
And Brian -- I am definitely not prepared for him. For HIS impact. For the presence that he has on the screen. And the power of the emotion that comes through him, which is almost ferocious in its intensity. The sex scenes, the running scenes, the fighting scenes, the love scenes -- and the climax on the track when a bullet ends everything. The audience, even those who know what is coming, gasp as Bobby, running in front of the pack at the Olympic Trials, goes down in an explosion of blood.
Then I hear a weak wailing, like a baby crying, somewhere very near me. And I wonder who would bring a baby to this screening, to this Hollywood premiere. Michael nudges me because Debbie is nudging him. Because it's not a baby crying at all. It's Justin, sitting in the middle of our row between Brian and Diane Rhys. And he's doubled over in his seat, that soft keening sound seeping from him like blood from a fresh wound.
Even though it's almost the end of the film, Brian stands up and takes Justin down the row, holding his head protectively against his chest, and then leading him up the aisle of the theater, with Diane following close behind. Debbie begins to stand up too, but Michael pulls her back down. "No, Ma," he whispers firmly. "It's not your place." And Deb sighs and settles back in her seat as we watch the final graveside scene and then the end credits and music, Neil Young's '70's classic, 'Long May You Run.'
The lights go up and Jimmy Hardy, who is two rows ahead of us, immediately stands and begins taking bows. He looks around and realizes that Brian is no longer sitting in his seat. So he reaches over and pulls Ron, who looks pale and stunned, to his feet. There's a storm of applause, then a standing ovation, which is well deserved. Tess Hardy stands up and kisses her husband. And then they are suddenly surrounded by a mob of fans and well-wishers, all wanting Jimmy's attention. He's smiling and nodding, working the crowd as only Jimmy Hardy can do -- signing programs and photos, shaking hands, posing for pictures. But throughout this lovefest, Jimmy is still looking around the auditorium, wondering where Brian has gone. A lot of other people are also wondering that. And another contingent of people are roaming the audience, looking for Brian. Wanting to hug him, get his autograph, and shake his hand on the night that he becomes a Hollywood movie star. But he's nowhere to be found.
Debbie shakes her head. "Poor Justin," she says. "That scene with the shooting was a little too much for ME to take -- so imagine what it must have felt like to Sunshine!"
"No wonder Brian originally didn't want Justin to come out for the premiere," Michael comments, grimacing. "He was really worried about how seeing the movie would affect him." And I can tell that Michael also has been greatly affected by 'The Olympian.' His eyes are red and his mouth is trembling slightly. I put my arm around his shoulders.
"But surely Justin knew how the picture ends?" I say. "I know he's read the book."
"Yeah, Ben, he's read it. And he read the script, too. He told me he did. But knowing what's going to happen and actually SEEING it up there in full fucking color are two different things," Deb reminds me. "Especially when you've almost died from being bashed in the head by a goddamn homophobe -- and then you have to watch your lover getting SHOT by one. Even if it IS only a movie!"
Jimmy Hardy pushes his way through the thick crowd of glad-handers and comes over to our row. As soon as he's past the fans and industry people his face goes from its usual public grin to a very private scowl. "Where the hell is Brian? I can't believe that he'd cop out on OUR fucking premiere! He was here a few minutes ago!" The man is fuming. "Uncle Vic," he says, turning to him. "You can tell ME -- what's happening?"
But before Vic can open his mouth Ron is standing here. And Tess Hardy. She touches her husband's arm. "Jimmy -- Brian got up and left during the final track scene."
Jimmy looks at his wife. "What the fuck did he do that for? And where is he now? Isn't he coming to the party? It's all set!"
Tess leans over and says quietly, "Brian took Justin out of the theater. Didn't you hear him? He was crying. Justin must have gotten... upset when he saw Brian... Bobby get killed. That's when they left."
"Oh come ON! What's Justy's problem?" Jimmy scoffs. "This is no time to have a temper tantrum!"
"Temper tantrum my fucking foot!" Debbie cries, indignantly. She's about to launch into an extended reaming out of 'America's Boy Next Door' when she's silenced by the last person anyone would expect to speak up on this subject.
"Jimmy, Justin was in a coma for two weeks about a year and a half ago after a gay-bashing at his prom. He was there with Brian... and Brian thinks that the fact they danced together there precipitated the attack. I'm sure that's why Justin couldn't take... seeing the track scene...." Ron pauses and swallows, as if he were barely able to take looking at that scene himself. And yet Ron must already have watched that footage a thousand times while he was going through the editing process. And all those screenings. And shooting the scene. But Ron is almost as shaken as Justin looked when Brian was taking him out of here. Ron's face is gray and he looks like he's about to be ill.
"Jesus Christ, Ron! How was I supposed to know that? Brian never told me anything about that kid getting hurt. I'm sure he didn't!" Jimmy looks around for an ally, but he's playing to the wrong crowd.
Ron stares at his friend in disgust. "You didn't know that the kid took a fucking baseball bat to his head and almost died?" Ron says, incredulously. "You'd know that, Jimmy, if you ever listened to anyone but yourself for more than ten fucking seconds!" And Ron turns and marches up the aisle, knocking another hoard of well-wishers out of his way.
"Oh, Jimmy! Even I know about what happened to poor Justin," says Tess, shaking her head. "Can't you cut the shit for ONE night? Just one?" And then SHE turns away from him and walks up the aisle and out of the auditorium, leaving Jimmy staring after her.
"Hey! Jim! This way to the party!" A well-dressed man comes up. He's smiling broadly. On his arm is a well-preserved blonde woman, dripping in jewelry.
"Folks, this is Freddy Weinstein and his wife, Dolly," Jimmy introduces them, recovering his patented smile immediately. "Fred is Ron's agent -- and an investor in 'The Olympian.'" The name is very familiar to me. Although we've never met, Fred Weinstein has been a close friend of Ron's for many years and I almost feel that I know him.
"Pleased to meet you all," Weinstein nods. "So, where's the 'Face That Launched a Thousand Ships'? Not feeling very friendly tonight?"
"He means Brian," says Jimmy, laughing shortly. "He'll be along at the party, Fred. Don't worry."
Freddy Weinstein frowns. "No trouble, is there?"
"What trouble could there be? Trust me, Freddy!" Jimmy reassures the man. And Weinstein and his wife head out of the theater. "I need to talk to Brian RIGHT NOW!" Jimmy says to us. "Where the fuck did he go?"
"We don't know, Mr. Hardy," says Vic, taking charge. "But I doubt that he went too far. He wouldn't just abandon all his guests. Diane Rhys went out with them -- if you could find her...."
"Thanks, Uncle Vic! I owe you one!" And Jimmy Hardy bolts away.
"Now what the fuck do WE do?" asks Debbie.
"How about we go to the party?" says Vic. And he leads the rest of us stragglers out to the lobby.
Diane Rhys is standing in a corner of the lobby in her long, glittery, low-cut gown. She doesn't look happy. She sees us leaving the auditorium and gestures us over. "I just got rid of Jimmy," she says. "He's heading over to the big party because I told him that Brian was already on his way over there. But he and Justin are still upstairs. Justin is pretty shaken up. Brian took him up to the manager's office and they're sitting in there trying to get it together."
"Is Brian all right?" asks Michael, nervously. "Is Justin going to be okay?"
Diane nods. "I think so. Justin is still freaked out and I don't blame him! Because I've got to tell you, that shooting scene freaked ME out!"
Michael gulps and squeezes my hand. "I know what you're talking about, Diane."
"So what do we do NOW?" says Deb.
"I would say that you all should head over to the Beverly Hills Hotel for the party," Diane says. "And I'll get the guys to come over in a few minutes. Jimmy told me in no uncertain terms that Brian had better show up and smile a lot. ALL the studio execs are going to be there and all the investors and every freaking big shot in Los Angeles! So Brian HAS to show up -- if he wants to be on good terms with half of Hollywood. And Ron will be there, putting HIS evil spin on things -- so Brian needs to show his best side and that's the truth."
"Now, Diane," I interject. "That's hardly fair. Ron would never say anything against Brian. Why would Ron want to undermine Brian at this stage of the game? The movie is out and it's fantastic -- and Ron still wants Brian to do 'Red River' with him next year. It would be going against logic to make Brian look bad."
"Hey, Professor," Diane confronts me. She's a short thing, like a little Bantam hen, all bluster. "We are talking about Ron Rosenblum and Brian Kinney here! And that means that logic has nothing to do with a freaking thing!"
"Jesus," says Deb. "That's for damn sure! So -- let's get going!" And we all follow Debbie out to catch our limousine to the 'Olympian' after party.
Continue on to Page 2 of "When I Paint My Masterpiece -- Part 4".