If the late, great director Robert Altman were still alive today, he'd immediately buy the movie rights of a recent WeHo News article and turn it into a clever satire about the wacky world of film festivals . . . without having to make anything up!

Titled “WeHo International Film Festival (WHIFF): A Fiasco, Fraud or Both?”, the staff at WeHo News, an online only newspaper, writes a hoot of a story about the disastrous opening night of this two-year-old film festival founded by Martin Deluca.

Starting with the fact that Deluca, at the very last minute, moves his baby out of West Hollywood and into Hollywood — instantly killing the whole idea of establishing West Hollywood, according to the WHIFF web site, as a “premier festival destination” — the comedy of errors only compounds from there.

Once in Hollywood at the Roosevelt Hotel, Deluca couldn't get a film projector to work, pissed off gay rights heavyweights who were set to speak at a panel, stopped a movie 30 minutes into its showing, and apparently got into a scuffle with Robin Tyler, one of the first lesbians to legally marry in California. And those are just some of the mishaps.

Jon Davidson, senior counsel of the gay rights group Lambda Legal, described the scene as “total chaos.”

Deluca made the move to Hollywood, he told WeHo News,

because “no one stepped forward to sponsor my festival.”  But somehow he managed to wrangle letters of endorsements from the city of West Hollywood and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, according to the WHIFF web site. (In the baseball world, funnily enough, a “whiff” is another word for a batter swinging and missing a pitch for a dreaded “strikeout.”)

Deluca is what people of a certain age would politely call “a character,” who describes himself as a director and producer and, in a WeHo News photo, looks like the homicidal nut case Ben Linus from the hit TV show Lost.

The story is so juicy, in fact, that WeHo News is running a two-part series about the WHIFF fiasco — one article this week and another next week. Read the first part now!

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly