The New York Film Festival kicked off over the weekend, and one of the marquee films featured at the fest is Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, the biopic of Leonard Bernstein which he directs, stars in, and co-wrote (with Josh Singer). Though the directors and now writers have new deals with the AMPTP, and can, technically, make appearances on behalf of their films, actors are still on strike and can’t make promotional appearances, like red carpets at festivals. Indeed, publicity for most films at festivals this fall has been carried by the directors, but Coop set the bar early for the actor-director hyphenates, telling the head of the Venice Film Festival he would sit out the world premiere of Maestro at that fest, despite being able to technically promote the film as a director.
However, he was at the North American premiere of Maestro at NYFF last night. It wasn’t an official appearance, the film was introduced by Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, but she announced to the crowd that Coop was in attendance as an audience member. He is allowed—as any actor is—to attend commercial and festival screenings of films as an audience member, because this doesn’t count as promoting struck work. Coop didn’t walk the red carpet, make any remarks, or appear on stage on behalf the film, he just went to the screening. He lives in New York, NYFF is his hometown festival, he went to see how his film plays to an audience, something he hasn’t gotten to do yet.
But this is obviously skating the picket line. It probably would have been best if Jamie Bernstein hadn’t mentioned him at all, because directing the audience to applaud him is sort of sideways promotion, right? Like, oh, Bradley can’t make remarks or pose for pictures but let’s take a couple minutes to acknowledge he’s here. People still would have noticed him, but maybe his attendance would have been an online rumor and not a post on The Hollywood Reporter’s website. It’s like, he found the loophole. He found the way to promote the film without promoting the film.
It's not the first time Coop has popped into a film fest unofficially on behalf of Maestro, following his hands-on tech check in Venice for the world premiere. The reasoning there was that he was already in Italy on vacation, might as well stop by the Lido to make sure the sound levels are set right for his film. …Sure. It’s just that once again, Bradley Cooper found the side door to make an appearance without making an appearance. I wonder if his peers are side eyeing him, or if they think he’s brilliant. Like will we suddenly see other famous faces in the audience at NYFF?