Poor Arthur may have been $750 million poorer on screen, but Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian's cancer center fund is $52,000 richer in real life thanks to last Thursday's 552 Club Summer Movie Premiere of "Arthur II: On the Rocks."
About 1,100 guests paid $30 and up--pricey for a movie ticket, but a bargain compared to most fund-raisers--for an old-fashioned night at the movies in Edwards Cinema Theatre Newport Center.
And even though the only stars in sight were the ones overhead, even though this may not have been the "premiere" premiere, even though the film itself was, well, less than memorable, everyone seemed to have a good time.
Warner Bros. already had staged a star-studded showing of the sequel to 1981's "Arthur" a week before in Westwood. "But that wasn't the public premiere," explained Chris Hopper, who chaired the event. The Newport showing was one of 10 scheduled nationwide that night, she said.
The following night, stars Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli were scheduled to attend the film's gala New York premiere, according to Margaret Buckingham, director of support groups at Hoag. "We did get in touch with Liza when she was representing perfume at Crystal Court about a month ago," Buckingham said. Minelli graciously accepted an Arthur II rock (some benefit invitations were painted on rocks) and said she would love to attend if it weren't for the New York opening. "She even asked to get a rock for Dudley Moore, too."
Instead, Liza look-alike Bonnie Mirliss was on hand to pose for the amateur paparazzi.
"It's like the old days of show biz to see this theater filled up," said owner James Edwards Sr., in a brief speech before the reels started rolling. Edwards donated not only the use of the 70-millimeter-screen theater, which he said was one of the largest in the United States, but also the popcorn and drinks.
After the final credits, the crowd moved outside to feast on champagne and an assortment of donated desserts.
Hopper said she enjoyed the movie because "people need to laugh."
"I didn't laugh so much at this one," said Marilyn Reed, a member of the hospital's Sandpipers support group whose husband, Jay, is on the hospital's board of directors. "I cried."
John Heffernan, a member of the 552 Club board, was elated at the turnout. "This really surpassed our expectations, especially since we didn't really have a blockbuster," he said. Heffernan himself rated the flick "not the funniest movie around."
Proceeds from the premiere will be used to help build the Patty and George Hoag Cancer Center now under construction. The free-standing 65,000 square foot center will be the first comprehensive cancer center in Orange County. Experimental as well as traditional treatments will be available there, according to Heffernan.
"We made a treatment room tonight," said Hopper. The 552 Club has pledged to raise $1 million for the center over the next three years, and "we have over $600,000 so far," Heffernan said.