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True wit: Fran Lebowitz visits Cinema Arts

Fran Lebowitz in Martin Scorsese's "Public Speaking."

Fran Lebowitz in Martin Scorsese's "Public Speaking." Credit: Rialto Pictures

Fran Lebowitz -- author, essayist, raconteur and subject of Martin Scorsese's new documentary, "Public Speaking" -- appears (along with the film) Wednesday at Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre to talk. Which is something she does better than almost anyone.

You've sort of been working the room with this film, no?

This is something I so enjoy doing. It's a childhood dream -- that people come and ask me questions. I could do this pretty much all day. Someone said to me the other day, "Oh you have to go do that again." I said, "What do you mean 'have to'?" Because I would take questions from the audience even if it weren't my movie.

Did it take much convincing by Scorsese to get you to do it?

It took a lot of convincing, but it wasn't Marty's idea, it was Graydon Carter's. He said, "I want to do a documentary about you," and I said: "No. I don't want anyone following me around with a camera." I didn't even think about it. It was as if someone said, "So, you want to go smoke some crack?" No.

Why is the only laughter in the film from Scorsese, when the camera shoots over his shoulder?

After we made the movie, he said, "You know, Fran, I hope you realize that I forbid the crew from laughing," and I said, "You know, Marty, I never even thought about it." I never thought about anything while we were doing it; thinking was not on the agenda. But he said, "I told them absolutely no one was allowed to laugh because I didn't want laughing in the film; I want it in the movie theater." But people have said, "It's so nice to see Marty laughing," so I guess he didn't forbid himself. But that's the privilege of being the director.

"Public Speaking" is sort of the official iconization of Fran Lebowitz as New York institution. What's one thing that would make the city better?

Smoking in restaurants. As I once told our perennial mayor, "You know what they call talking and drinking and smoking and eating in bars and restaurants?" He said, "What?" I said, "The history of art."

WHO: Fran Lebowitz and Martin Scorsese's "Public Speaking"

WHEN: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington

TICKETS: Members: $6 Nonmembers: $10

INFO: 631-423-3456;

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