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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
McCartney's surprise visit
Sir Paul McCartney at Cannes
Showman and salesman: Paul - that's his name
BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas continues her diary with Cannes' surprise guest - and the festival's favourite party tricks.

Wednesday was a day of two celebrities.

One was Nicole Kidman. She came in person to herald the world premiere of Moulin Rouge, the festival's opening movie.

Cannes crowds
Crowds build up for the Moulin Rouge premiere
The other star to occupy the paparazzi was former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who made a fleeting visit to Cannes - so throwing much of the movie-obsessed media off-guard.

Sir Paul was first on the scene in the morning. And surprisingly enough, he had indeed come to promote a film, a documentary about his former band Wings called Wingspan.

But many of the press awaiting his arrival at La Majestic Hotel seemed somewhat bemused. Statements such as: "What is he doing here?", and "I only knew about all this 20 minutes ago", were heard.

In true celebrity style, Sir Paul kept everyone waiting. When he finally appeared, there was the customary press frenzy to get the best picture.

Security guard at Cannes
On guard at Cannes
The scrum of snappers shouted "Paul, Paul", to get him to look their way. To which, Sir Paul rather flatly replied:"Yes, that's my name."

As he disappeared into the hotel, to prepare for a press conference, there was at least one satisfied onlooker.

Laurent Barraud, the president of France's official Beatles fan club, the Sergeant Pepper Fan Club, was all smiles. He told me how he had met Sir Paul six times and was hoping to make this his seventh.

Moulin excitement

Still, though Sir Paul made a diversion, there was no getting away from the excitement building up around the Palais des Festivals, the venue for the screening of Moulin Rouge.

Nicole Kidman at Cannes
Nicole Kidman makes her appearance
Crowds began to gather behind the barriers in front of the Palais early in the afternoon ahead of the star guests' arrival from around 1800.

They were all ages and from all over the world. A group of three ladies from Calgary, Canada, on a tour of France, told me how they had stopped specially for the event.

When kick-off time came, the fans were not disappointed. Fittingly, a huge movie screen projected the scene on the red carpet leading to the Palais for all to see.

Whoops of admiration rose from the crowd as stars including actresses Michelle Yeoh and Andie MacDowell and director Francis Ford Coppola appeared.

Cannes
Stars on screen
But the most excitement was reserved for Nicole Kidman. She arrived last, along with Moulin Rouge co-star Ewan McGregor and director Baz Luhrmann, but still took time to sign autographs, wave and generally be all-smiles.

Elsewhere in Cannes were other forms of wonder to be found. Many people, it would seem, are out to make a fast buck from the festival.

A seemingly innocuous book shop on La Croisette does a curious sideline in festival memorabilia. This includes sequinned t-shirts, sold in mock silver film cans, and directors' chairs.

Party-goers

A moth-eaten Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have mysteriously transported themselves from Disneyland to the centre of Cannes. They unceremoniously grab passers-by for the privilege of a photo with them, only afterwards to charge them through the nose.

Donald Duck at Cannes
Donald had seen better days
All the women's designer shops have their most headline grabbing evening frocks in the window for all those unprepared party-goers.

But one of those making the most out of the festivities is Jacques Michel, the owner of joke shop Au Fou Rire.

As well as supplying the balloons for many of the festivities, Monsieur Michel hires out tuxedos. Dinner jackets are de rigeur for male guests at the evening screenings and subsequent bashes.

But many still seem to find themselves caught unawares. So, they make a last minute dash - or phone call - to the shop.

Mickey Mouse at Cannes
Not at Mickey Mouse prices
In his 15 years in business, Monsieur Michel has had the pleasure of dressing some of the world's biggest stars.

He will proudly show you his photo of him with film director Roman Polanski. He will also tell you how many of these clients also buy his jokes.

The most popular on the party scene, he says, are fake ink - and whoopie cushions.

Just imagine what you are missing.


Festival diary

Films in focus

The lowdown

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