People I Know
Al Pacino heats up the screen as Eli Wurman, a New York press
agent pushed to his physical and emotional limits. For decades, Eli has been one of Manhattan's most renowned press agents--the
guy who knows everyone.
A die-hard liberal, he struggles to keep his self-respect,
deteriorated after years of client abuse, by throwing fundraisers and fighting the good fight. His luck goes from mediocre
to bad when he is called upon to baby-sit a tortured TV actress, a discarded plaything from his biggest client. Maneuvering
through a drug-enhanced night lands him smack in the middle of a huge scandal that even he cannot survive unscathed.
Cary Launer (Ryan O'Neal) is a famous actor-he's as good at manipulating
and controlling those around him as he is at giving award-winning performances. Yet Launer is in trouble over a young starlet,
Jilli (Tea Leoni) and enlists Eli to discreetly escort her out of his life. It seems like just one more celebrity baby-sitting
job, until they arrive at an after-hours party, where Eli experiences a shock that will change his life forever.
As if all that weren't enough plot for one movie, ''People I
Know'' throws in Kim Basinger as the widow of Eli's suicidal older brother offering refuge (and possible romance) in her Virginia
home should Eli decide to retire.
It is Eli's political commitment to fund-raisers like the
one for the Nigerians that has given him a moral raison d'Ítre. As much as he is forced to grovel and kowtow to sharks, he
believes he's on the side of the angels. But the old coalition that he helped forge in his glory days has unraveled. At his
fund-raiser, Eli hopes to bring together Lyle Blunt (Bill Nunn), a fiery black preacher with distant resemblances to the Rev.
Al Sharpton, with Elliot Sharansky (Richard Schiff), a Jewish billionaire and vaguely liberal power broker, for a touchy-feely
photo op, but the two men deeply mistrust each other.
...it's Al Pacino who really carried the movie "People I Know"
with his both sensitive and tragic role of Eli Wurman who was so absorbed in the good that he was trying to do that he didn't
see the evil that was all around him for years that he only noticed when it was too late.
People I Know...premieres at The Sundance
Film Festival in Park City, Utah -January 17, 2002
"For me, I know it's a good film when I find myself thinking
about it days later," says Pacino. "But to really appreciate a film, it takes time. You have to step away . . . give it a
chance to breathe." (Pacino quoted as saying while at the screening party, Sundance Film Festival)
"Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival"
**Roger Ebert didn't write a review of 'People I Know' because it never
opened in Chicago. However, after he saw it at Sundance, he spoke with Al Pacino. Following are excerpts from
"'Somebody asked me today, do I like acting?' Al Pacino was saying.
'That stopped me. I had never been asked that. "What
did you say" "Sometimes." "When don't you like it?" "When I'm not working. Bogart was like that. After every picture, he thought he would never work
in the movies again. Well, right now, I don't have a single movie on the books. Does that mean I will never work
"Unlikely...'The only problem is, I don't have the appetite to
make my own pictures. I don't want to direct. So I'm always in a kind of passive position, waiting for someone
to come to me with a project. That I sort of don't like.'"
...."It is the day after the Sundance premiere of 'People I Know'
in which he plays an exhausted, strung-out New York press agent, a man torn between compromise and idealism, using drugs like
M&M's. It is a carefully-tuned and perceptive performance, in which the character descends into a long night of
drugs and is finally so tired and confused he doesn't know if he has witnessed a murder or not. Later, when he's stabbed,
he misses that too."
"The performance walks a tightrope between the character's willingness
to cover up a scandal of his last remaining client, and his determination to lure celebrities to a benefit for one of his
own liberal causes...."
"Pacino is 'one of the greatest of all movie stars...' but these
days he uses his stardom to open doors to non-star kinds of acting."
"After I won the Tony award for 'The Basic Training of Pavlo
Hummel,' I got up there without any kind of a speech prepared and I found myself saying 'I am grateful to the theater, which
made the movies possible for me, and now I am grateful to the movies, which make theater possible for me."