Sometimes people like Martin Sheen get lifetime achievement awards - an excuse to hold a fancy gala, really - and people like me go to cover it. The press line at the entrance was small, but I was at its end. I'm happy to report that Mr. Sheen is (or acts) sweet and charming, ensuring each reporter got a few moments of his time. A couple girls (who were so inexperienced they thought I knew what I was doing) there for Details and GQ homepage men.style, asked Sheen what "kind of guy" he was fashion-wise. He said he didn't know and was lucky to have a wife willing to pick out clothes, and that the suit he was wearing - he pulled open the jacket to find out the brand, Armani, which made the girls start gushing - was wardrobe from a recent film. It was useful, Sheen noted, because getting outfits from movies meant the work of making them match was already done.
I tried asking a question about how his acting philosophy influenced his feelings on being a Stella Adler reward recipient - he and Marlon Brando, whom he told me was the greatest actor "at least in the English-speaking language" both trained in her method acting technique - but the question wasn't simple enough and sounded muddled, so I stopped mid-sentence. "Take my question and make it coherent," I told him. Belly laugh!
Another good quote came from Stockard Channing, who went as a surprise award presenter and told me she was glad she arrived while Sheen was still in the media area "to completely embarrass him publicly." I asked for her thoughts on method acting and here's part of her response. Insert "journalism" and watch it resonate:
"I never studied acting. There’s many ways to go about it. But I think the more you can learn about the skills of an actor, how to represent the human condition, how to represent human relationships, how to be interesting and tell a story - all that stuff is a lot to learn, and why not learn it from the best?"
I went into the dinner just long enough to eat a salad with goat cheese crostinis and sauteed mushrooms and to listen to a fellow diner who ran a Hamptons-based magazine and was wearing a black stole with big tufted white furry polka-dots tell a self-professed McCain supporter that the candidate needs to find himself a tailor because "his shoulders look huge!" When she left, that old lawyer drunkenly turned to me and told me that he'd been single for so many years because most New York women are evil and have boyfriend requirement checklists, which he felt OK telling me because I didn't look like one of them, though I was clearly a raging liberal.