Flickfest heralds Harold Ramis’ genius

Boston Herald
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
June 18, 2009

Big screen funnymen Ben Stiller, Harold Ramis, Peter Farrelly and Paul Giamatti are bound for the 14th annual Nantucket Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the ’Sconset Casino.

The four-day flickfest will take a comedic turn this year with a tribute to Ramis, the scribe behind the goofball box-office hits “Animal House,” “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters.”

Ramis’ new flick, “Year One,” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, opens nationwide tomorrow and will close the festival on Sunday.

On Saturday, Stiller, the island summer res who penned the hilarious Hollywood spoof “Tropic Thunder,” will lead an all-star comedy panel. He will join Ramis, Farrelly and “Meet the Fockers” screenwriter John Hamburg in revealing all about crafting comedy scripts. Expect a Harold lovefest.

“I think whoever is honored at the Screenwriters Tribute sets the tone for the entire festival,” artistic director Mystelle Brabbee told the Track. “And this year it all started with Harold. He has deeply influenced Ben, the Farrelly Brothers and John Hamburg, so when we found out all would be on the island with us, we said we’ve got to get these three guys together.”

Ben’s mom, Anne Meara, will once again co-emcee the ever-entertaining “Late Night Storytelling” event. This year’s theme – “Stories of Change” – will bring celebrity raconteurs “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines and “Curb” director Bryan Gordon, actress Lili Taylor and actor Fisher Stevens to the stage to tell their tales of change.

Ben Stiller, we hear, also may have a story. Or two.

Giamatti, who landed on the island yesterday with his family in tow, stars as himself in “Cold Souls,” a somewhat funny flick written by Sophie Barthes, who won the flickfest’s annual screenwriter’s competition in 2006. Sophie, according to festival legend, approached Giamatti when he was on-island three years ago and told him about the script she wrote with him in mind. He signed on a short time later.

“It’s not an overt comedy, but it has comedic undertones because Paul Giamatti makes it super funny,” Mystelle said.

And speaking of funny, NBC News nabob Brian Williams will once again emcee the Screenwriter’s Tribute in his off-the-cuff, let’s-make-fun-of-Nantucket kind of way.

The “Nightly News” king, BTW, joined the festival’s board this year even though his NBC bosses pulled the plug on the network’s long-time festival sponsorship. Because, of course, the flickfest’s big cheerleader, Robert Wright, an island res, is no longer chairman of NBC Universal.
“We are so grateful for Brian’s continued support,” Brabbee told the Track.

Roll ’em!

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