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Marylouise Oates

The Presence of Power Leaves Fame Standing at Benefit Door

November 23, 1987

Power and fame are two constant commodities in this city. The difference in their definitions became clear Friday night, as power was truly present at one party--while fame showed itself an unsuccessful gate crasher at the other.

Here's the cast of characters--Lew and Edie Wasserman, Armand ("The Doctor") and Frances Hammer, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, his sister Jean Kennedy Smith, Abigail Van Buren Phillips, a table full of bigwigs from the Russian film industry and every paparazzo west of Cleveland.

And Fawn Hall. And Donna Rice.

(The script is not as exciting as the cast would lead one to believe--but, really, aren't you truly curious?)

Scene One: The hilltop home of the Wassermans, the living room crammed with an abundance of brand names at a party preceding a benefit at Jimmy's for Very Special Arts, an international organization dedicated to providing arts opportunities to people with disabilities. When one goes to the great party in the sky, one can only hope that the Wassermans will be on the host committee. Surely that would guarantee some interesting people to talk to.

This evening, for $500 a head (and the powerful position of just being on the Wassermans' list), Mogulville turned out to hear the senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy's audience included such studio biggies as 20th Century Fox's Barry Diller, Interscope's Ted Field, Warner Brothers' Bob Daly, Paramount's Frank Mancuso, Orion's Mike Medavoy, Disney's Jeff Katzenberg, Columbia's Herman Rush, MGM's Jay Kanter and Universal's Sid Sheinberg.

(If there were a few obvious Hollywood names missing, blame it on superagent Mike Ovitz, who Friday night gave a smallish surprise party for his wife, Judy, at Chinois in Santa Monica, drawing some moguls like Disney's Mike Eisner--plus clients like Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Sean Connery and Chevy Chase.)

At the Wassermans' there was an introduction by Motion Picture of America Assn. president Jack Valenti, who maybe put into words the very wistfulness that touches Kennedy in these months before the next Democratic presidential candidate is chosen. "In the year 2000, four presidential elections from now," Valenti said, "Kennedy will be younger than Ronald Reagan was when he took office."

Kennedy thanked the Wassermans, who had shared "some wonderful mementos, wonderful notes" from President Kennedy with him. Then he kidded that before he came out to L.A., his mother, Rose, had asked him what the fund-raiser was going to cost, and, being told, said, "for that you used to be able to stay in Los Angeles for a week."

There wasn't a lot of political talk--who doesn't know where Kennedy stands? He commended those in the audience who had opposed the nomination to the Supreme Court of Robert Bork, saying, "We didn't want to go back. The American people don't want to go back."

And then, after everybody got their one minute of chat with the senator, it was off to Jimmy's, and the fund-raiser for Very Special Arts.

SCENE TWO: A reminder. In the middle of media madness, true feelings sometimes really occur.

That happened with the presentation of a painting to Kennedy from Very Special Arts' participant Jose Carrillo, 10, whose parents looked on proudly.

"There were a lot of people who wanted it," Kennedy told Jose, as he took the painting while a herd of photographers surged around. "And I'm lucky to get it."

A painting that Kennedy had done, "Hyannis Port Compound," had been turned into a numbered series of 1,000 serigraphs. Martin Lawrence Limited Editions of Van Nuys is distributing the $1,000 serigraph, with all the profits--expected to total $500,000--going to Very Special Arts. Hammer and Jean Kennedy Smith hosted the party at Jimmy's where Martin Lawrence founder Martin Blinder unveiled the serigraph, with more photographers and more pictures.

The crush was eclectic and exciting. Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin, Jack Jason and Jed Weitzman stopped by on their way to the U2 party given by Jane Fonda and Assemblyman Tom Hayden (and drawing the general Political Pack, like Rosanna Arquette and Ed Begley Jr.).

At Jimmy's, benefit-goers included Shelly Hack, Anthony Franciosa, Morton and Abigail Van Buren Phillips, Kelly LeBrock and her husband, Steve Siegel, and Occidental's Rosemary Tomich (in a sleek Ungaro).

But that was in the private party.

Now here's an amazing coincidence. Two women seeking to continue their fame show up at a restaurant where there is a benefit for disabled children, a benefit loaded with VIPs.

So, in the nearby dining room, at separate tables, there were Donna Rice and Fawn Hall.

Rice and her friend, Diane Jarrett, ate dinner with a man identified as being from England. And, at a nearby table, William Morris Agency head Norman Brokaw (who said he had been invited to the benefit by Hammer) and his wife, Maggie, hosted his clients, Hall (who he is "taking around" to try to get her career going) and photographer David Kennerly (who had just returned from Russia with Hammer).

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