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Stars Cut Up For Splashy Premiere

For Augusten Burroughs, it was a real-life Hollywood ending: the world premiere of the film version of his life story, "Running With Scissors."

"It's amazing," Burroughs told AP Television as he glanced down the arrivals line and saw the film's stars posing for photos and speaking with the media. "These are all the people I have admired for many years, and here they are in the movie of my life. It's completely surreal. I feel like I'll wake up tomorrow and I will be back in my little room, 14 years old, writing in my journal."

Based on Burroughs' best-selling 2002 memoir, the film, written and directed by TV's "Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy, tracks the author's turbulent young life in the 1970s. Like the book, which Burroughs has described as only loosely based on his life, the film shows the boy saddled with a chilly, alcoholic father and a deluded, drug-addicted mother who eventually granted custody of her son to an eccentric, perhaps insane, psychiatrist.

And, oh yes, it's a comedy.

"There is great humor; don't forget to laugh," advised Joseph Fiennes, who plays the pubescent Burroughs' psychotic thirtysomething lover. "It is a brilliant observation of family disfunctionality. But, also, at the heart of it, it is about a survivor ... this young boy that against all odds pulls through and finds his voice as a writer."

Tuesday night's premiere marked the second time in two nights that actor Joseph Cross, who plays Burroughs, walked the red carpet leading into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has a small role in Clint Eastwood's World War II epic "Flags of Our Fathers," and is in virtually every scene of "Running With Scissors."

"A lot of people don't get to play this sort of character until they are in their 30s," said Cross, who is 20. "I feel incredibly fortunate and incredibly lucky."

Oscar buzz abounds yet again for thrice-nominated Bening, for her darkly comic portrait of Burroughs' mother: often monstrous, but, Bening insisted, no monster.

"I think there is a lot of sadness in her and she makes terrible mistakes," explained Bening. "I think getting the chance to try to understand and really empathize with somebody like that, who makes the kind of mistakes that she makes, is actually a fascinating thing."

The film also stars Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brian Cox. Two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh ("An Unmarried Woman") makes her first high-profiled, major-studio film appearance since 1997's "Fools Rush In." In "Scissors," she's the psychiatrist's mousy, dog-food eating wife.

"Well, I tried some kibble and I thought, `No, that stays with you, it's a little unappealing.' So they made me some, not very delicious, (human-food version of) kibble ... Let's put it that way."

Kristen Chenoweth (Broadway's "Wicked") gets a quick lesbian love scene with Bening. "Well, she has the best lips, very soft skin," Chenoweth noted, with an embarrassed laugh. "And, you know, if I'm gonna kiss a girl, I'm really glad it's her. She was my first female kiss. ... And who knows if she'll be my last?"

As for "Hot Lips" Chenoweth? "Oh, fantastic!" Bening replied, playing along, with actor-husband Warren Beatty at her side. "Hot! Incredible!"

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