LAS VEGAS - When AVN first received Layout for review, it was accompanied by a phone call.
"Now, I hope you guys don't take anything in this movie personally," asked director Paul Thomas. "I just want you to know that the characters here aren't based on anyone working at AVN; they're just made up for the movie."
After all, why should we? Just because the film revolves around the lives of the personnel at "Adult Video Guide," an adult video trade magazine, whose owner (Tyce Buné) is a kinky multi-drug user, and one of whose overworked editors (Penny Flame) gets into a series of kinky sexual liaisons, among them with actress and bondage-maven Brianna Banks, before fucking her boss (Tom Byron), while the other (Marcos Leon) winds up as the paramour of an aging porn star (Kylie Ireland) looking to rekindle her career ... why would we possibly take that personally?
But the fact is, the award-winning screenplay (by Thomas and Phil Noir) is first-rate, carefully crafting its characters to allow the multi-nominated cast (Flame, Ireland and Byron, all of whom won their categories, as well as Buné, who lost Best Supporting Actor to Randy Spears) to create personae with depth, and with whom viewers could empathize.
"It's a real good piece of work," Thomas said after the award show had concluded, "and it really shows what good writing and good acting and good conception can mean to an adult film. It can make the whole experience and ultimately the sex that much better."
"It's really cool to win these things," he continued, "and I know the competition [in the "film" category] was less, but compared to years past when we had tons of competition, and all the video features, I think it holds up fantastically. It's got really good ensemble acting, and I must say loudly that AVN deserves kudos for recognizing something that in essence takes a direct shot at it. It's definitely a satire on AVN, and I didn't realize, since I didn't write most of it, how direct a satire it was, and some people were complaining that it was too close to home and wasn't true, but I want to congratulate AVN for allowing me to bite the hand that feeds me."
Thomas also discoursed on whether, in the era of video-on-demand, the "feature film" has breathed its last, but Vivid National Sales Manager David Peskin doesn't see that happening.
"We still have several films that will be released over the next year," Peskin noted, "and we will still continue to shoot on film; we're not stopping doing that, even if most of the film categories will be dropped from the awards next year."
"We usually do a few big Paul Thomas feature films a year, and they always sell exceptionally well," he added. "There is definitely a large audience and a following for a Vivid Paul Thomas feature film. Layout's sales are right up there with Debbie Does Dallas ... Again – not the same number of units, but then again, Debbie's had major publicity and the television show surrounding the title, and of course, it won Top Selling Title of the Year."
On the other hand, besides awards for its major performers and screenplay, Layout also won Best Couples Sex Scene-Film (Flame and Byron) and Best Oral Sex Scene-Film (Ireland), as well as Thomas scoring the Best Director nod – so all-in-all, seven major awards is not a bad record upon which to close out AVN's Best Film category.