Wednesday, March 10, 2004

De Niro touts N.Y. film festival

"I feel great!" Robert De Niro said recently. And well he should. Just months after treatment for prostate cancer, the trim and ruddy actor took a break from filming the thriller Hide and Seek to say that May's Tribeca Film Festival in New York will be bigger than ever, with most movies free and none more than $10.

Flanked by New York Gov. George Pataki, other actors and artist Julian Schnabel, De Niro showed off his quick reflexes. He saved stiletto-wearing Kyra Sedgwick (Mrs. Kevin Bacon) from falling off the stage - twice.

Jane Rosenthal, De Niro's producing partner, revealed that last year's fest attracted 350,000 people and nearly $50 million to downtown New York. (The actor and his partners started the fest as a way to bring back the area after 9-11.)

The fest does not make a profit, so American Express is helping out.This year, AmEx will present Martin Scorsese's Lady by the Sea outdoors to help reopen the Statue of Liberty. They'll also show Footloose, "so they can make fun of my '80s haircut," Bacon joked.

The 200 other flicks will include the premiere of DreamWorks' animated comedy Shark Tale and Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes, almost 20 years in the making and starring Bill Murray.

Ellen Barkin, Chad Lowe, Chris Noth, Mary Louise Parker, Eddie Izzard, Bingham Ray and Jeff Skoll are the jurors, said the fest's director, Peter Scarlett.

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