Here's how to raise some big money at a benefit premiere: First get a big studio--like Disney--to underwrite the entire cost of the party after the premiere of "Ruthless People," benefiting the California Institute of the Arts. Then, have someone who's tenacious--like CalArts President Bob Fitzpatrick--call Disney Chairman and CEO Michael D. Eisner for six months, suggesting that the studio also match whatever money the benefit raises.
OK. So before the sell-out crowd--which had raised $250,000--had roared its way through "Ruthless People," Eisner said that they were "so optimistic" about the film that they would "match" the net, raising it to $500,000. He said later that the actual decision to match the benefit profit had really been made "between 4 and 6 o'clock today," although Fitzpatrick had indeed tried for six months.
Fitzpatrick had also pointed out in his brief speech before the film that Disney had provided the first film whose premiere benefited CalArts--"Mary Poppins."
The benefit restored one's faith in epic-size parties--it had all the necessary ingredients. It made money. The movie was funny. The food at the Century Plaza was tasty. As Fitzpatrick promised before the film, shown at the Plitt Theater across the street, there were no speeches at the party. Two stars of the film, Bette Midler and Danny DeVito, actually showed up and were more than gracious. Stars littered the room--like Whoopi Goldberg, Burt Lancaster, Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Neil and Marcia Diamond. There was no band to cut into the profit to CalArts, and all the working studio execs got home in time for an early call. Kudos to the committee that included Eisner, his wife Jane, Edie Wasserman, Denny and Jeff Berg, Barry Diller and Lillian and Jon Lovelace.
One wonderful touch: arriving guests were videotaped, and that tape provided the background entertainment at the post-screening party, shown on TV monitors carefully set up in the geometric-style decorations.
It was that kind of an event--and everybody pays to come back next year.
TAYLOR-MADE--The American Foundation for AIDS Research, chaired by Elizabeth Taylor, honors its good friends Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach on July 25. The couple--who donated the proceeds of "That's What Friends Are For" to AMFAR, will be feted at a party at the lavish Beverly Hills Kirkeby Estate (which, if you're looking for a new house, is on the block for $27 million). Invites aren't out yet, but some of the 400 tickets at $1,000 per person are already gone. Look for Sager-Bacharach singers like Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder to be on hand.
TRAVELING MAN--Maryland Sen. Joseph Biden, being mentioned as a Democratic presidential hopeful, makes a several-day swing through L.A. in the next week, including a party hosted by MCA's Irving Azoff to introduce him to the entertainment community. Political wags waiting to see Biden's close friend, media maven Pat Cadell, will be disappointed on this trip, since Biden's leaving home without him. Cadell, one might remember, was a close friend of yet another current presidential hopeful, Sen. Gary Hart, in the '84 foray. Although Cadell refuses to "rate friendships," he admits to being "very close to Biden."
SEE YOU ON GOVERNOR'S ISLAND. PART I--For those who thought L.A. had enough pageantry to last a lifetime with the Olympics, think again. It's as if the entire intertwining social circles of this city suddenly roll to New York for next week's Liberty Weekend. David Wolper, who heads up the extravaganza, will have a lot of familiar faces around. Like Henry and Stacey Winkler, Gary and Maxine Smith (he's producing and directing the Opening Ceremonies Show with his partner Dwight Hemion), Suzanne and Joe Marx, Elizabeth Taylor, Marion and Earle Jorgensen, Erlenne and Norman Sprague, Gregory and Veronique Peck, Marion and George Scharffenberger, Armand and Harriet Deutsch, up-from-D.C. Charles and Mary Jane Wick, and, from Philadelphia, former Ambassadors Walter and Lee Annenberg. Yes, buses and ferries for these rich and famous folks. We'll have much, much more on the festivities, starting Monday . . . And for those of you who wish you had made plans to go, a contribution of $10,000-per-couple to GOPAC--the political action committee aiding Republican candidates--puts you at the Vista International Hotel, gets you to the gala roof reception and aboard a 150-foot luxury yacht. It's all hosted by Gov. and Mrs. Pete du Pont of Delaware.
YET MORE MONEY--David Rockefeller Jr.'s move to increase voter participation--the Citizen Participation Project/The Missing Half--has apparently really raised the bipartisan consciousness and money in Southern California. Rockefeller's trip out here last week raised more than $1 million. And, nationwide, his project is more than halfway to its $5 million goal for this year's get-out-the vote effort.
SAVE THE DATE--The NOW "Awards of Courage" dinner honoring Valerie Harper, Columbia Pictures' Barbara Corday and Women For:'s Collette North is set for Sept. 16 . . . American Cinematheque gets benefited by the premiere of Roman Polanski's "Pirates" on July 17 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre . . .