tonight i went to the first night of the weekend’s academy salute to hal ashby. elaine was generous enough to invite me and it was a fantastic night! i didn’t really know what to expect as i hadn’t seen ‘harold and maude’ before.

first off, the movie was great. i loved it. it was perfectly charming, hilarious in parts, so sad in others. i can see why ‘harold and maude’ is the favorite movie of many of my friends. the prospect of seeing a great movie was wonderful on its own, but i wasn’t aware there was going to be a panel discussion and…a live performance by yusuf (formerly cat stevens)! according to the academy president peter bart, it was one of the first performances by yusef in the US for thirty years. he was unbelievably good – such an effortlessly smooth and rich voice. it was just him and a guitar. it was so intimate and you could feel the emotion in the room.

the night was hosted by peter bart and cameron crowe, and the panel members were judd apatow, diablo cody, seth rogen, jon voight, haskell wexler and yusuf. each person shared their memories of hal, or how his films had influenced their work or touched their lives. cameron crowe read a note from vivian pickles (who played harold’s mother) and then, right before the movie began, peter bart told everyone to wait afterwards for a fun surprise. and it was…bud cort! he talked about how he had campaigned for the role and some general behind-the-scenes stuff. very cool.

i love living in los angeles.