“You’ve created a monster,” shouted “Boogie Nights” star Mark Wahlberg to producer John Lyons over the throbbing din at Life Thursday night. A crowd of 500 was buzzing to congratulate Wahlberg — as well as co-stars Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham and Philip Seymour Hoffman — after the film’s New York premiere, and the actor formerly known as Marky Mark, now trim in a suit and tie, couldn’t get enough of it.
“You think Dirk Diggler [Wahlberg’s film character] had a big ego,” he crowed. “That’s nothing.”
The swirling crowd at the party parted to reveal a banquette where Jennifer Jason Leigh was hanging out with Michael Penn, who did the music for the movie, and the director, Paul Thomas Anderson. Wahlberg dashed over to him.
“I need massive amounts of love and attention,” said Anderson. “And tonight I’m getting it.”
Burt Reynolds was getting his attention from an agent from ICM. They were huddled in a banquette for much of the evening, he said, in a “career discussion.”
With so many folks bullish on the picture, New Line president Robert Shaye, at long last, could breath a sigh of relief.
“At a budget of $16 million,” he said, “we were able to take a risk. More than anything, though, it was a giant leap of faith.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, who starred in Anderson’s debut effort, “Hard Eight,” said that she, for one, wasn’t at all surprised.
“With ‘Hard Eight,’ there was a lot of struggle with Rysher Films,” she explained. “The movie that got released was not the movie he made. If you’d seen the movie he made, you would see there isn’t such a huge difference. He did have a lot more money this time.”
Which brings up the question, incidentally, of why she didn’t have a part in this movie.
“My parents would have killed me,” she said with an grimace. Or maybe not. Wahlberg’s mother was in the audience at the screening, and she gave the movie a big thumbs-up.
“She loved it,” beamed Wahlberg. “She was crying. And she’s the only critic I was worried about.”
A few nights earlier, in L.A., fans and stars, including Matthew McConnaughey, Minnie Driver and Ellen Barkin, came out for the premiere of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Seven Years in Tibet.” The film’s star, Brad Pitt, walked in making a fashion statement that, for once, really was. He was festooned with white silk scarfs handed out by protesters hoping to raise awareness about Tibet’s political oppression.