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Jason Reitman brings his live-read series to audience in New York

NEW YORK--Paul Rudd and Emma Stone channeled Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in a reading of their 1960 film “The Apartment” before a live audience.

The event on Friday was organized by film director Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up in the Air”) who has been hosting monthly live reads in Los Angeles to sold-out crowds since last fall.

The readings are billed as a one-time only event with no rehearsals and no recordings.

Friday's read at the TheTimesCenter was the first to take place in New York.

Tickets sold out so quickly, a live video simulcast was played in another area of the building for US$15 a person.

“The Apartment” is about a lonely bachelor named CC “Buddy Boy” Baxter, read by Rudd, who works at an insurance company. He rents out his apartment to male coworkers that want to use it as a place to bring girls for a good time. Stone portrayed an elevator girl in his office building named Fran Kubelik.

The film won five Academy Awards including best picture and best director honors for Billy Wilder.

Reitman took to the stage first and greeted the audience, saying he liked the idea of the live reads because “nothing is live anymore” and that he has “more fun doing this than making movies.”

He then introduced the cast which also included Jason Sudeikis, Tom Cavanagh, Cara Buono, David Wain and James Woods.

Lena Dunham of HBO's “Girls” was supposed to take part but Reitman said she had to cancel and was replaced by actress Greta Gerwig.

The stage was simple with just a chair and a script stand for each actor. Reitman served as the narrator. On the wall behind them was a screen that projected still images of locations from the film like Jack Lemmon's apartment or the insurance company where he works.

The reading wasn't flawless with a few flubbed lines here and there but the audience didn't seem to mind. The actors would at times giggle over each other's interpretations or perform exaggerated pantomimes along to the actions in the script for laughs. At one point Sudeikis left the stage for a few moments with no explanation but the show continued without interruption.

Past live reads have included “The Breakfast Club,” “The Princess Bride” and “Shampoo.” An all-African American cast — with the exception of comedian Patton Oswald — was assembled to recently perform “Reservoir Dogs.”

Reitman's live read series is co-presented by The New York Times and Film Independent.

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