Paul Haggis Flies in Hollywood’s Face

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TRY THE HAGGIS Paul, Brian de Palma

Manhattan’s pretty people paused Thursday evening to ponder the crisis in Iraq with director Paul Haggis at a screening of his new film In the Vally of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon, and based on reporter Mark Boal‘s 2004 piece for Playboy “Death and Dishonor.”

While Boal was in the Middle East on assignment, Playboy‘s Chris Napolitano was on hand to toast Haggis’s work, a decidedly bleak crime story about a young soldier gone AWOL upon returning from Iraq. After scoring the Oscar statuette for Crash, Haggis told the intimate crowd, he went looking for scripts that would have the least chance of seeing the light of day, telling his producing partners, “Bring me the one that will never get made in Hollywood.”

Film-goers then braved the taxi strike and made it down to the after-party at Jour et Nuit to raise funds for the Accompanied Literary Society. As model Lily Cole, downtown scenester Arden Wohl, and Michael Musto clinked glasses and milled around with Iraq Veterans wearing anti-war tees, Haggis joked to the throng, “No, seriously, I really do read Playboy for the articles.” As he passed through the crowd, an onlooker whispered, “It was a hell of a lot better than Crash!” And so the Oscar campaign season begins.

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