Stars discuss classic movies and money woes

By Michael Cidoni

LOS ANGELES – It was movie stars celebrating movies, as Sean Connery, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Jodie Foster, Dustin Hoffman and a host of others gathered in Hollywood for the American Film Institute’s annual night at the movies.

It was also movie stars voicing concerns for an ailing nation following the Senate’s approval Wednesday of the $700 billion economic bailout plan.

“Well, it’s great,” said Annette Bening, who arrived at ArcLight Hollywood with husband Warren Beatty. “I think we all need to be educated more about why it’s important to pass the bailout. And from everything that I understand, it’s a way of us moving forward. I’m glad that the Senate did that, and I hope that the House follows.”

Bening was at “Target Presents AFI Night at the Movies,” which screened 12 classic American films in a single night, to introduce “American Beauty,” the Academy Award winner in which she starred with Kevin Spacey.

Jim Carrey, there to introduce “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” walked the media gauntlet with girlfriend Jenny McCarthy, who commented, “People are going to be relieved a little bit that there is going to be some help. But then there is the other side that thinks the rich are only going to get richer.”

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    Added Carrey, “They will figure out a way to consume it. … I think it’s a good thing, temporarily. I don’t know in the long run. Who knows? It’s kind of a strange thing to take taxpayers’ money and be doing that kind of thing with. I don’t trust anybody.”

    Carrey’s fellow Canadian, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” actor Mike Myers, was somewhat reluctant when asked to do some bailout banter. “I have made some comedies and that’s how you know me, so . . . I don’t know what the etiquette is about one’s political beliefs. I am very concerned for people that the economy turn around. … The strength of democracy is not how well we agree but how well we disagree. The strength of a society is how well we take care of our most disenfranchised.”

    The high-profile gathering reunited actors with some of their famous films: Cameron Diaz introduced “There’s Something About Mary”; Shirley MacLaine, “The Apartment”; Steve Martin, “The Jerk”; Denzel Washington, “Glory”; Rita Moreno, “West Side Story.”

    Connery introduced “The Man Who Would be King”; Reeves, “The Matrix”; Hoffman, “Tootsie”; and Foster, “The Silence of the Lambs” – a rare thriller that went on to both commercial and artistic triumphs.

    “It was an absolutely beautiful novel and was beautiful in the details, the tapestry of the details, as it was in this just really primal, unconscious thing,” Foster said. “It caught us intellectually, but it also caught us in this really primal place that none of us really understand, and hit both things.”

    Bening said “American Beauty” was “made for the right reasons.”

    “People just were following their heart,” she said. “When I first saw it, I have to say, I was just blown away, because I thought, ‘This really came together as we hoped it would.’ … I’ve made some movies that I really loved that nobody saw. … So, the fact that this was a success, on top of being something that I was really proud of, it’s like a dream come true.”

    Bening was also asked about Thursday night’s impending debate between vice-presidential candidates Joseph Biden and Sarah Palin.

    “I just want to be educated. I am a student of politics and these are our experts and we deserve to hear everything – especially from Governor Palin because we don’t know that much about her,” Bening said.

    “I am feeling really good about this Sarah Palin,” Carrey said, “because I used to live in Canada and you could see Alaska from there. So I know everything there is to know about her.”