2012 March 14

School Days

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Adrien Brody, Sami Gayle Adrien Brody, Sami Gayle
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(NEW YORK) Ladies and gentlemen, class is now in session. Your substitute teacher: Adrian Brody. Last night at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema, the Cinema Society and American Express hosted the premiere of Tribeca Films' Detachment, the latest tour de force from director Tony Kaye starring Brody as a temp teacher in a dysfunctional Long Island middle school. Queens-born Brody is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of the New York school system depicted onscreen by fellow castmates Lucy Liu, Betty Kaye, Sami Gayle, Christina Hendricks, Marcia Gay Harden and Isiah Whitlock Jr.

 "My father was the history teacher at my intermediate school. I was relatively well-behaved in junior high, but I embodied the Aries persona at times. I was a pyromaniac," said Brody, who wouldn't expound on his fiery hobbies but did offer up a senior year anecdote. "I saved a freshman from getting beat up by a senior in high school," he said. "I don't remember it, but this guy, now a budding rock star, told me last week that it really affected his life, so I wasn't all bad!"

Liu skipped the lunch room squabbles to hit the books and study like nobody's business. “The SATs were my life; I constantly worried about getting into an Ivy League school. I was wearing second-hand Canal Street jeans with a black coat and Dr. Martens. I was angry at my parents and nothing was right."

Other honest reflections on teenhood abounded. "You know that chubby teenager who loves art and doesn't care about anything else? That was me in high school," said Kaye, whose director dad handed her the script six years ago when she was a fifteen-year-old freshman. "I was like her in high school!" said Robert Verdi, pointing to Kaye. "The whole idea of ‘I’m sad, pay attention to me slash I’m fabulous and look how creative I am’ was my model," Verdi explained. "I was a C-student floater—friends with the jocks, the artsy-fartsy kids, the outcasts. Socially, I'm the same now. I have friends who live in Section 8 housing projects, and I’m also friends with the Tischs.”

"We went to the well one too many times during school. I had other things on my mind, if you know what I mean," said Tony Danza, the self-professed "terrible student." His greatest high school accolade? “I got to play Luther Billis in the musical South Pacific. It was set up in the auditoriuma very professional-like production." But Jane Rosenthal may have one-upped Danza with a hit role of her own. "I got to play Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown! Big stuff."

As for Gayle, the budding 16-year-old actress who plays a runaway prostitute named Erica, school is at the top of her to-do list. "Education is very important to me. I'm in all AP classes, and I'm on the debate team." How does a girl-next-door sophomore gear up for her role as a street-wise street walker? Easy. "I watched Taxi Driver and Pretty Woman. Plus, working with Adrian for four weeks was like going to college for four years. He's the ultimate professor.” 

Post-screening, guests rendezvoused at The Standard's East Village outpost, where a packed house mingled while munching on mini burgers, grilled cheese triangles, bite-sized quiche, and a hearty banquet spread lining the VIP area. Other notables included Tony Bennett, Edie Falco, Lea Thompson, Anson Mount, Hannah Ware, Terry George, Rachel Roy, Jamie Tisch, Lonneke Engel, Genevieve Morton, Kelly Bensimon, Nanette Lepore, Fern Mallis, and Dani Stahl.

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