Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The press release from Lorinda St. Genome’s publicist claimed that the dazzling Broadway actress and her children’s book–author fiancé Emiliano Dunst wanted to keep their wedding small. Judging from the crowd that packed St. Bartolome’s Cathedral on Saturday afternoon, “small” as applied to celebrity wedding guest lists has come to mean “no fewer than three hundred.”

At least for all their troubles, their wardrobe extravagances, and their two-and-a-half hours waiting in the pews, the guests were treated not only to a theatrical spectacle of pomp and circumstance, but also to several incidents of high drama and histrionics. At the end of the day, only the wedding’s lack of requiring a ticket for entry quashed the rumors of the event’s being an exercise in experimental theater.

Even before the wedding march resonated throughout the hall from the cathedral’s 150-year-old pipe organ, the venue’s rafters reverberated with noise as the popular Hollywood actor Charles Mongol arrived with a last-minute declaration of love for the bride. One could hardly resist contrasting the similarities between Mongol’s performance on Saturday and his Oscar-nominated turn as Sidney Belew in last year’s Dawn’s Breaking. In the movie, his character’s wedding-day scene features restrained passions and a heartbreaking emotional revelation. Mongol’s real-life attempt at sabotaging his former flame’s wedding, however, was punctuated by poor diction, a profuse flop sweat, and a pitiful, sob-soaked voice that escalated in pitch as often as it did in volume. In addition, as most of the onlookers later agreed, the entire speech “came totally out of the blue. We all thought Charles was far too basic to have feelings that deep and tortured.”

In any event, Mongol himself seemed well convinced of his own complexity that afternoon. Calling to attention the crowd of astonished guests, Mongol delivered an impassioned, occasionally lucid speech that appeared to be fueled as much by alcohol as by romantic convictions. “We’ve shared the stage,” he said at one point. “We’ve shared our lives too. At one time, we did. And I can’t just let her go . . . and be shared with somebody else. No, sirree.”

Those nearest the actor tried to silence him with as little fuss and embarrassment as circumstances allowed, but he waved them off and poured forth an even louder exclamation of his romantic intentions. Within a few minutes, he had the horrified assembly in the thrall of his public address. If he sensed that he faced one of the most hostile audiences of his life--the friends and family of the bride and groom--he gave no indication of it in his performance.

As might be expected from a bride-to-be awaiting her cue, and in particular from the incomparably proper Lorinda St. Genome, the lady in white let Mongol have the scene to himself. Yet soon the groom, his anger visible in his eyes, led his best man and a small army of ushers to confront Mongol. In keeping with his reputation as a well-known child advocate, Emiliano Dunst checked his rage and attempted to reason with Mongol.

The inebriated actor fled at that point, clearly identifying Dunst as the enemy. Drawing, no doubt, on his scant two weeks of stunt training in preparation for the recent remake of The Seven Samurai, Mongol leapt into the pews and attempted to scamper across their seatbacks. But it was not to be. If perhaps Strategic Strike Squad Seven had not wrapped filming more than ten months earlier, Mongol might have retained enough nimbleness and athleticism not to have then collapsed awkwardly into the crowd, fracturing his wrist, splitting his lip, and providing tabloids around the globe with the week’s most obvious headline photos.