The rare opportunity to hear Steven Spielberg talk at length about his phenomenal career was provided at Alice Tully Hall on Nov. 25, 2002, by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, with the director, producer and much honored titan of the industry interviewed by Richard Pena, the Society's program director. Clips from Spielberg's films were shown, including 14 minutes of his forthcoming DreamWorks release "Catch Me If You Can."

The director appeared to take special pleasure in setting the record straight on "A.I. Artificial Intelligence." Noting the film received a split reaction, he referred to the common perception that the tougher part stemmed from Stanley Kubrick and the latter part criticized for being too sugary came from him. He insisted it was just the opposite. He was responsible for the tough center section, while Kubrick contributed mainly to the first and latter parts.

The experience of listening to Spielberg discuss a range of topics, some specifically related to particular films, and some about the filmmaking process, was akin to taking a class with him. Pena's questions were intelligent and to the point, and he also fielded questions from the audience. Unsurprisingly, a few members of the audience took advantage of the occasion by trying to communicate with the guest with their special written requests. He graciously but firmly told the first such person to place his letter on the stage, whereupon a second person followed with another letter.

The advance clips of "Catch Me If You Can" starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a con artist bode well for the film, which drew applause and looked exceedingly entertaining. There was also applause for some of Spielberg's other work, with "E.T." seeming to strike a special chord with the audience.

The Film Society is planning a series of such events, with Diane Lane slated as another guest on December 12.

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