GARY GILBERT: THIS KID IS ALL RIGHT FOR MICHIGAN

Film producer and Southfield native Gary Gilbert opens up about his Oscar nomination for The Kids Are All Right, the Michigan Film Incentive, and his new film, Meet Monica Velour


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It has been a banner awards season for The Kids Are All Right. Consider: Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Bening), the 2011 Independent Film’s Spirit Award for Best Screenplay (Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg), awards from New York’s and London’s Film Critics Circle, the American Film Institute, and a slew of others. The Kids Are All Right was in the running for the Oscars’ Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Annette Bening), and Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo).

For that glitziest of all awards shows, film producer and Southfield native Gary Gilbert retired his Giorgio Armani tuxedo and strolled the red carpet in his new Christian Dior tux, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, Piaget watch, and cufflinks. The day before, at the Independent Film’s Spirit Awards on Santa Monica Beach, where demeanor and ensembles had a much more casual vibe, Gilbert opted for a Ralph Lauren suit.

We spoke with Gilbert between awards ceremonies and just before the April 8 release of his film Meet Monica Velour.

Kudos for your success with The Kids.

The most ultimate thing of all was getting an Oscar nomination. There aren’t too many times that you have an obituary-changing event in your life.

Annette Bening won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and now you’ve got your own Golden Globe for Best Picture. What was going through your mind when they called your name, along with co-producers Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray?

The entire experience was incredibly surreal. As I stood up and headed toward the stage, the only thought I had — other than ‘don’t trip’ — was, ‘Is this really happening?’ Once I got up there, I remember looking out to see the entire room staring directly at us. I think it was making eye contact with Robert De Niro; that threw me over the top.

Your first major film, Garden State, won the Independent Film’s Spirit Award for Best First Feature in 2005 and starred Natalie Portman. And now, The Kids Are All Right stars Annette Bening, who went head-to-head with Portman all awards season.

I suppose it’s a reflection of the directors I’ve worked with having a sharp eye for talent.

Your résumé says you started as an actor in 2002 in Jeff Daniels’ comedy Super Sucker.

I was one of the small investors who put together financing for the film and, in return, I played a reporter in one scene and was part of the media frenzy. It took zero talent.

Now that you’re an award-winning Hollywood producer, do you stay at The Townsend Hotel when you come back here to visit?

No. I stay with my mom, which is quite comedic in itself. There’s definitely good material there for a sitcom.

Following the GLAAD Media Awards (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), where The Kids Are All Right is up for Outstanding Film, you’ll go full throttle promoting Meet Monica Velour, which stars Kim Cattrall and Dustin Ingram.

The film was shot entirely in and around metro Detroit in 26 days.

When you bring it to the Birmingham Palladium for an April 12 red-carpet fundraiser for JARC, it will be on the heels of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to cut the film incentive.

It’s a real shame. I made two films in Michigan since the incentive took place: Meet Monica Velour in 2008, right when the incentive began, and Cripple, in December 2010. Both films were exactly same size, in terms of budget and crew. In 2008, for Meet Monica Velour, we had to bring in 42 crew members from out of state. In 2010, for Cripple, we only brought in 14. That speaks volumes in terms of the rapidly growing film-crew base in Michigan.

An exclusive pre-screening of Meet Monica Velour benefiting JARC is set for 7 p.m., April 12, at the Uptown Palladium, Birmingham. Actress Kim Cattrall will attend. Tickets: $50/general admission, $150/person for the afterglow meet and greet; 248-538-6611, jarc.org.

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