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R.S.V.P. : Kleig Lights, Fans, Security: The Bathype Takes Flight in Wild Westwood Opening

June 21, 1989|JEANNINE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

Westwood has seen a lot of premieres in its time, but nothing on the scale of the debut of "Batman" Monday night. Klieg lights, fans in desperate need of showers after camping out for several nights, more fans up on the rooftops and enough security to foil a terrorist attack choked the streets for most of the night as cash registers hummed in nearby stores, continuing to rack up sales of Batmemorabilia.

Hype, thy name is Batman.

The quasi-"Day of the Locust" scenario took place between the Village and the Bruin theaters, where two simultaneous screenings played for industry pros, press and celebrities. The camped-out fans, some in Bat costumes or Joker makeup, had been waiting for a limited number of first-come, first-served seats, but Warner Bros. took pity on those who didn't make it inside the first time and opened up both theaters for a second set of screenings.

Even the most jaded Hollywoodites waited until the last minute to go into the theater, craning their necks to see Kim Basinger float by in her revealing black chiffon mini.

A Whine and a Shrug

"Will you please go inside?" whined a security officer before giving an exasperated shrug and walking off.

Meanwhile, Batfans began to circulate through the theaters, asking stars for their autographs and snapping pictures (even of the screen when the Batlogo came up). They surrounded original Batman creator Bob Kane, causing an observer to note, "Eddie Murphy's right behind him and no one's paying attention to him."

After the screening the Batfun was just beginning. Those lucky enough to have their names on The List (or crafty enough to know how to get past security) ended up at Twenty/20, the Century City disco palace so classy there are signs posted in the women's bathroom that read, "Only one person per stall."

Crowds and sweat emerged in no time as people took to the dance floor, gyrating to the band Information Society, sound-track cuts, Top 40 tunes and Motown hits. Outside, the Batlogo projected eerily on a nearby high-rise.

Purple and Private

"Batman" sound-track star Prince took up residence in a corner booth and waited for people (including director Tim Burton) to come to him, while refusing photographers' attempts to capture the diminutive rocker on film. "Is Prince gonna play ?" was the all-night buzz. He didn't.

Waiters in mime face dished out Along Came Mary's finger foods (pizza, dim sum, baby vegetables and beet and yam chips) to "Batman" stars Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger and Robert Wuhl; producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber; "Batman" score composer Danny Elfman; Eddie Murphy; Joni Mitchell; photographer Herb Ritts; Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen; screenwriter/director John Hughes; Guber-Peters exec Michael Besman; screenwriter Laurie Frank; Paul Rodriguez; Glenn Close; Barbra Streisand and Richard Baskin; Quincy Jones; Julianne Phillips and Mariel Hemingway.

Others at the screening included Sylvester Stallone, Louie Anderson, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, Randy Newman, Corey Feldman and Billy Crystal.

Michael Keaton picked off wax that had somehow gotten on his pinstripe jacket and refused questions, saying: "You know what? I ain't working. I'm all done."

Nothing More Than Feelings

Tim Burton admitted he was nervous. During the screening, he roamed in and out of the theater. "I'm always nervous," he said, adding that the audience's reactions "seemed to hit all the right spots."

Peter Guber walked through the party with the same goofy grin he wore at the Oscars when "Rain Man" won best picture.

Was the feeling the same?

"One's the end of a process, tonight's the beginning," said Guber, who sported a "Help fight crime, wear your Batsuit at night" T-shirt.

"Both films confronted innumerable obstacles--this one took 10 years to make," he added. "This is the culmination of another dream. It's kind of like having a baby--although I've never had a baby--but it's like, 'Oh my God, it's on its own now.' "

It sure is. Now he just has to wait for the sequel. . . . The Critics.

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