On a recent Tuesday night, the rooftop penthouse level of the Checkers Hilton pool was the scene of a wrap party for Broken a low-profile indie with high-profile stars Heather Graham and Jeremy Sisto backed by Linda Hamilton, Jake Busey and a cast of 20. No Pat OBrien, red carpets, PR flacks or paparazzi here; this affair was a low-key throwback to when independent films were really independent and so were the wrap parties.Up on the roof the movie stars hung around the swimming pool on a spectral summer night. That secret Art Deco alcove provided a view of all the natural and man-made wonders of Los Angeles skyscrapers towering into a perfect, blue, cloud-laced, edible L.A. August sky, jumbo jets swooping gracefully into their approach. By 8 p.m. there were around 100 cast and crew eating, drinking and relaxing. Broken began in the sunny surf of Point Dume State Park, then ended in the sweaty turf and shadows of Skid Row. Heather Graham makes a similar transition in the movie as Hope, a young woman from Ohio who comes to L.A. with pop-star dreams. On the beach she meets Mr. Wrong, played by Sisto, and ends up as the movies title would suggest. At the party, however, Ms. Graham looked big-eyed, blonde, fit . . . like a movie star. She moved easily about without entourage or pretension. She appears to have had her fill of fame and amassed enough fortune to focus on good roles and good work. Broken is a love story, said producer Jerry Wayne. Heather did it because she liked the script and wanted the challenge. Wayne is a veteran of commercial production with dual residency in Hanalei and Las Vegas. Broken is the first feature film for his Walk on the Beach Productions, and he was the host for the party. I stayed at the Checkers throughout the production and would come up here after a long days shooting to decompress, Wayne said. These people worked hard in close quarters, in hot and sweaty conditions, and I thought up here on the roof would be a perfect place to thank them for their hard work. As the fashionably late filtered in, Wayne put on a DVD with some edited dailies scored by a haunting song for a beautiful night. The sneak preview gave cast and crew a clearer vision of what they had been blindly working on. Like that night, Broken is all about the good and evil of L.A., natural and artificial light, beaches and Skid Row. I swore I wouldnt get PPD post-project depression, said a guy with an Australian accent. I swapped it out for complete insanity. The accent belonged to director Alan White. Broken is his first American feature, and that night he was spinning: Im overwhelmed by the great, crazy family we formed, that I now have to leave, White said. I started smoking again. It was intense, but I know we got it. When someone reminded him that it took Sofia Coppola only 27 days to film the Oscar-winning Lost in Translation, White fouled it off. I just wanted to make a film we can all be proud of. And we did.At around 11, White handed out wrapped gifts to everyone, and then the crew presented him with a surfboard, an unbreakable Surftech for the unbreakable director of Broken that was signed by everyone. White, touched, jazzed and a bit in shock that the shoot was over, held the ultra-light board over his head and made a victory speech that sounded a little insane, touched by fatigue, pride and PPD and also the thought that he still had hundreds of hours in the editing room ahead of him.As the penthouse crew began clearing up, the barback flung open a locked door, sending the signed Surftech screeching across the pavement. That stopped the party cold. Show business people are superstitious: An omen? Alan White sauntered over with a cigarette in his fingers to see the damage. Not broken, not even a ding.
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