This week, The Weinstein Company hosted a special screening of director Shane Salerno’s documentary "Salinger" at the MoMA, opens nationwide today on Friday, September 6. Notables we spotted included: Tina Brown, Paul Haggis, Charlie Rose, Stella Schnabel, Liev Schreiber, John Patrick Shanley, Barbara Walters, Jess Weixler, Jeff Zucker, to name a few. A fun party followed at Forty Four at Royalton.
Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview 'Salinger' director Shane Salerno on the red carpet.
Q: What would you say is your favorite J.D. Salinger story?
Salerno: Great question! Probably "Esmé" or "Bananafish."
Q: Why those stories?
Salerno: Just because both of them are deeply, deeply infused by his World War II experiences and I was deeply moved by both of them. Both are extraordinary in their compression, power, so I'm a huge fan.
Q: What made this moment the right time to release this documentary?
Salerno: It was after Salinger had passed away, so this wouldn't be bothering him. It took this long to convince people to tell their story for the first time. It took years. I spent 10 years on this film, I spent $2,000,000 of my own money and this story needed to be told. When I did that I didn't have a Weinstein Company or American Masters or Simon & Schuster as we do now. So it was a huge risk and we had a lot of doors shut slammed in our face and I'm really honored that ultimately we were able to tell his story fully completely. We screened it last night at Telluride Film Festival and Ken Burns said the film was extraordinary, which meant a great deal to me. He's the dean of modern documentary filmmaking and the reviews have been very strong and I saw it with an audience today and they cheered. I listened to an audience watch it yesterday at Telluride and they cheered. People love the film; it's a celebration of his work. I'm really happy that we're here.
Q: In today's society you can find any bit of news at the snap of a finger, but no one knew about this until there was an actual public announcement. How did you keep it so secret for so long?
Salerno: We really ran this like a CIA operation for the first six years. We had everyone sign confidentiality agreements. We maintained a high level of security. We had code names for the project. The word Salinger never appeared on anything. It was called Project Y. So no one knew what the hell it was about. But it was a gift in the age of twitter to be able to keep this secret. And we needed to do that. If it had come out, certain people would not have spoken to us.
Q: What's next for you?
Salerno: I'm currently writing the sequel to "Avatar," one of the sequels to Avatar with James Cameron and that's been an incredible experience. I can't say anything about it. I went from not being able to talk about "Salinger" to not being able to talk about "Avatar" except to say that it's an extraordinary honor to be working with James Cameron on the "Avatar" sequels with a great group of people, a great group of writers and so that's thrilling and that's all my focus. It went right from Salinger obsession to Avatar obsession.
We also spoke with Liev Schreiber on the red carpet.
Q: What would you say your favorite J.D. Salinger story is?
Schrieber: Probably "Catcher."
Q: What was it about the book that spoke to you?
Schrieber: I think it was how old I was and it was the first novel that sort of made me feel like a grown up. It intellectually made me feel advanced beyond my years and that was what I appreciated about his writing.
Q: What was it like filming "Ray Donovan"?
Schrieber: It was great. It was really wonderful. A terrific cast, terrific writers. It was really enjoyable for the most part. Some days I'd get tired.
Q: What's next?
Schrieber: "Fading Gigolo," a film that John Turturro wrote and directed is coming out. It'll be a Toronto. Not sure when it comes out.
"Salinger" is now playing and a book of the same name by Shane Salerno and David Shields was published September 3.
With reporting by Joshua Kaye