Somehow, the red carpet leading to the Cineplex Odeon theaters in Century City wasn't even soggy on Wednesday night as 1,100 people trudged across it a few hours after the first rainfall in months.
"I never worry about the weather," confided Elaine Goldsmith, chairman of the Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center world premiere of Columbia Pictures' "Awakenings."
"We never have to worry," added Carolyn Blywise, the event's co-chair.
The point is, this being the support group's 33rd annual benefit premiere, Women's Guild parties appear to operate like well-oiled machinery, rain or drought.
Even the one tiny glitch in the making was a false alarm. Comedian Jan Murray and his wife, Toni, made their way up the carpet, he dressed in a zip-up jacket and plaid trousers. Didn't he know this was black-tie? Right clothes, wrong movie. "We just saw 'Dances With Wolves,' " said Murray, who was exiting a different theater in the complex. "It was great."
As for "Awakenings"--rather likely to be the season's only neurological drama--a more appropriate film could not have been found for this group, heavy on physicians and physicians' spouses. (At dinner, one internist was paged over the loudspeakers.)
But it was kind of like screening "L. A. Law" for the American Bar Assn. "I like regular people in the audience," the film's director, Penny Marshall, said.
The film, starring Robin Williams as the doctor and Robert De Niro as patient, "says a great deal about what a compassionate physician can be," said Sheldon King, president of the medical center, "and also about the patients and the spirit in them." Added Marcia Ziffren, Women's Guild president: "There isn't a more beautiful, more appropriate way for us to have our premiere. I would like to feel the same kind of miracles happen at Cedars--and they do."
The weepy ending left the audience in its seats through the last credit, and guests seemed to find it difficult to shake the mood for the post-screening supper party across the street at the Century Plaza hotel. "It leaves one pensive and deeply moved," commented producer Walter Mirisch.
"Oh, I cried," said Lilly Tartikoff.
"It's a movie movie. It justifies the invention," trilled director Sir Richard Attenborough.
Credited as the first charity to have held a benefit movie premiere in Los Angeles, the Women's Guild is strongly supported by the film industry.
More than $500,000 was raised as the evening was entirely underwritten by Columbia Pictures, which also bought 21 tables. Other major studios--including Fox, Warner Brothers, Disney and Universal as well as the William Morris and Creative Artists agencies--took tables, too.
Aside from Robin Williams, the crowd was light on stars but heavy on behind-the-scenes powerhouses--producers Freddie Fields and Ted Field, CAA chief Mike Ovitz (the center of attention, as usual) and Penny's brother, director Garry Marshall.