Backstage and Up Close, C’est la Vie à Paris
Paris is back to its usual gray rainy self making the short-lived summer seem like a total dream. Out came the long-sleeve shirts, lightweight jackets and raincoats, neck scarves and closed shoes covering up that gorgeous tan we worked so hard to achieve. Oh well. C’est la vie à Paris.
In spite of the rain, Parisians, as did people from all over the country, came out to visit the monuments, museums, gardens and exhibitions open for Les Journées du Patrimoine — a once-in-a-year opportunity to see something one might never have a chance to see otherwise.
With all the possibilities, we chose to visit the backstage of the Lido on the Champs-Elysées. Sure, I’ve seen the show — with its razzle-dazzle sequined bejeweled feathered sparkling elaborate skin-baring sexy costumes, gorgeous dancers and special acts…but to see it up close and personal…never! This seemed so much more interesting than a tour to the Paris sewers!
And it was. The room always was and still is a beautiful setting for a special evening. The line that formed outside in the rain moved relatively well as we circled behind the stage to see the racks and shelves of costumes that have been worn by the performers in the past. As we perused the elaborate feathered headdresses I wondered what it must be like to have such pomp perched on one’s head while baring one’s breasts, thinking this is not something to which I’d ever aspire! (At least not in this lifetime.)
Nonetheless, backstage at the Lido was a treat — but perhaps not as exciting as seeing the show itself. Before leaving, we timed it perfectly to get tickets at the cinema adjacent to the entrance to the Lido to see “Majordome” (“The Butler”) — the new movie about backstage at the White House with an all-star cast that is sure to take home plenty of Oscars.
It surely touched the French audience, as it did me, leaving me in tears at the end, because I remembered well those days in the late 1950’s when the schools and public places were desegregated. In the South it was unsettling and sometimes quite violent. When the first little ‘colored’ girl came to my elementary school wearing a pretty white dress and big bow in her hair, I wondered what all the dumb fuss was about! How silly all those adults could be with their fears and prejudices! The film really exposed those times and what took place backstage at the White House…without the razzle-dazzle.
Two other films made a mark on Paris (and me) in the last few days. On September 11th, which seemed so appropriate considering the imagery of war and destruction, the American Library in Paris showed a screening of the not-yet-released documentary about John G. Morris, “Get the Picture.” Produced by Irish filmmaker Cathy Pearson, the film is about “the unique and illustrious life of legendary photo journalism editor John G. Morris.”
John is one of Paris’ most celebrated American residents. At the ripe age of 96 (just like my mother!), he is still very active in American organizations, particularly Democrats Abroad in support of his primary concern — peace. He is the former Picture Editor for Life Magazine, The New York Times and Executive Editor of Magnum Photos, to name just a few of his important posts. He was responsible for the coverage of the invasion of France on June 6, 1944 — D-Day, and edited the historic photos of Robert Capa. John moved to Paris in 1983 as the European correspondent of National Geographic. Along the way in his career, he amassed an amazing collection of photography that was auctioned off in April 2011…which I had the fortune of witnessing alongside legendary New York Daily News photographer Harry Hamburg at the Drouot Montaigne auction house.
Until the documentary is released to the public, you can live vicariously by ordering up a copy of John’s book, “Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism” through Amazon.com (amazon.com/) and purchasing it at other English language booksellers here in Paris.
Backstage and up close happened again last night, when aspiring filmmaker, seasoned performer and Paris resident, Electra Weston, presented a short trailer of her new film now in post production, “Maybe Dreams Can Come True” at Patricia Laplante Collins’ Paris Soirées. The film is “a contemporary mix of narrative, experimental and documentary filmmaking thus creating a haunting portrayal of one young womans journey from home, success in the international spotlight and back maybe.”
Electra’s story is about Expat life and strife — something we as Americans in Paris fully understand. In her red dress and African-inspired hair style, tall shapely Electra told us about her efforts to realize the project fully and how she is raising support via Kickstarter.com — with donations possible as little as $1. I supported the project, and hope all of you will, too. Simply visit kickstarter.com/ and pledge your support.
All week long…being backstage and often up close — c’est la vie à Paris!
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(At the Lido!)
P.S. I will be filming another House Hunters International in Nice this coming weekend and we are seeking properties in which we can film! If you have (or know of someone who has) a home or apartment in Nice or any of the neighboring communities with three bedrooms or more and would be willing to allow HGTV film in it for just a few hours this coming weekend, please email me immediately!: [email protected]
P.S.S. There’s only one share left of La Résidence Luxembourg! — An airy, bright and elegant one-bedroom fractional ownership property tucked between the lushness of the Luxembourg Gardens and the grandeur of the monumental dome of the Pantheon in the popular Latin Quarter of Paris. You can be the proud owner of the last share of this exquisite apartment! Visit La Résidence Luxembourg at or for more information email mailto: [email protected]