The star called Prince wore a hood. He made such fast steps down the far-celebrity aisle at the Academy Awards arrivals ceremonies--the aisle reserved for the lesser lights--that few caught a glimpse of his face. Only his sequined garb of purple and a platoon of security gave him away.
The fans didn't care. Such is Prince's celebrity that he didn't even have to look up, much less wave, to receive his reward of screeches.
On the other side of the personality scale was Diana Ross, one of the evening's presenters, who more nearly represented the evening's mood of glad-handing and good cheer. She stopped hither and yon, graciously accepting praise for her purple-and-black-sequined pants outfit--"It's Galanos"--and introducing her longtime friend Patrice, a Frenchman, with whom she never stopped holding hands.
"This is America!" Ross exulted, like a veritable cheerleader. "America is about stars and music and motion pictures, and it's all here."
Altogether it was a rather tame pre-awards occasion Monday night outside the Music Center. About the only complaint came from presenter Michael Douglas. One of the last to arrive, he seemed a bit nervous about being late. "Have you seen these streets?" he said, referring to the traffic and the crunch of long-longer-longest limousines outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Silver appeared to be the dominant limo color this year.
Indeed, it was a rather conservatively dressed crowd, too, with what the designers are calling the new (or old) femininity in vogue. Lots of off-the-shoulder gowns in tulle and chiffon and velvet, altogether reminiscent of 1950s prom dresses. There were exceptions of course--singer-actress Apollonia's being the most noticeable. With a feathered headdress and veil over her face, she took care to bare her belly, and dressed it with a black and pearl button.
This year there were no protests as to who was nominated or who was not, just a smattering of religious signs, including one in the upper right balcony of the grandstands that called for a return to the deity along with "back to blacklisting" and "no nudity, no cussing, no homos, no leftists . . . ." And no one paid attention.
No one rained on this parade.
About the only placard that drew notice was one declaring that "Salieri has the last laugh." It was held up just as F. Murray Abraham, everyone's best-bet for best actor as Salieri in "Amadeus," was generously offering that he would "really" be "delighted" if he could share the award with Tom Hulce, his co-star who played the effervescent Mozart as a young man.
Seeing the sign, Abraham, 45, a relatively unknown actor until this role, pointed, nodded his head and burst out laughing.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," he said unabashedly, while his wife, Kate, stood off on the side. "It's like a great big wonderful birthday party.
As for Hulce, who came down the red-carpeted aisle holding hands with Elizabeth Berridge, the actress who played his wife Constanza in "Amadeus," he said he didn't mind as long as he or Abraham won. "At the end of the film, he and I worked together, and I hope it happens tonight."
As for himself, Hulce said, "I'm a little incoherent; of course I'm nervous." So was "Amadeus" producer Saul Zaentz, jolly and white-bearded, who on the outside seemed as happy as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. "Inside, it's a perpetual motion machine."
With nearly everyone who dared predict predicting--correctly--"Amadeus," Abraham and, for best actress, Sally Field for "Places in the Heart," it was not a very suspenseful evening. Producer David Wolper, who would take home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, said he thought "Amadeus" would come out on top because it was a "totally different movie."
The "fans in the stands," as Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd, host of these arrival ceremonies calls them, had a chance to vote, too. In a simple applause poll, they chose "Amadeus," Abraham and Field. In the best-supporting categories, they voted for Noriyuki (Pat) Morita of "The Karate Kid" and Glenn Close of "The Natural," while the experts had been choosing Peggy Ashcroft, at 77 the oldest nominee, in "A Passage to India," and Dr. Haing S. Ngor for "The Killing Fields." Five out of eight wasn't bad for the grandstands.
Roland Joffe, the Englishman who made his directing debut and won his first Oscar nomination for "The Killing Fields," the story of journalist Dith Pran's survival among the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, was making no predictions. He simply said he was "thrilled by the extraordinary reception American audiences have given the movie" and said he himself was unaware of the issues involved until he read the script. "I am proud enough to be nominated."