"I'm going to enjoy myself watching new films and talent, and I'm looking forward to being surprised and happily gratified," he said.

Michael Gladis, popular for his role of Paul Kinsey on the TV series "Mad Men," echoed the sentiment.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the show and the after-party tonight," he said with a chuckle. "That'll be fun."

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At the festival for the first time, Gladis will be at Via Lido Plaza on Friday in support of his latest venture, "In Security," which also stars Ethan Embry, Ving Rhames and Adam and Alan Arkin.

"It was the most fun movie I've shot in my life," he said. "We just laughed and laughed and laughed."

Gretchen Rossi, one of the "Real Housewives of Orange County," who was flanked by her new fiance, Slade Smiley, attended to show her support of the arts. Lydia and Doug McLaughlin, newcomers to the reality show, the first of the now-vast "Housewives" franchise, also made an appearance.

A soiree was scheduled after the screening with a performance by Taylor Hicks in the Fashion Island courtyard.

"I was requested to come over and perform, and I knew that this film festival had grown legs in the last few years, and I jumped at the chance to perform at the after party and, obviously, see the film," Hicks said.

According to the singer, winning the fifth season of "American Idol" — which he called the "only game in town" — was a blessing and came with opportunities like his debut at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

When asked about his set list, he joked, "I guess how many songs [I perform] depends on how many glasses of wine I have."