The Scene: Wednesday night's premiere of the new TriStar thriller "Basic Instinct," held at the Cary Grant Theater on the Sony Studios lot. After the screening, guests celebrated at a party in the studio commissary.
The Buzz: The filming of "Basic Instinct" was protested by groups that viewed the script of the sex and violence thriller as homophobic and misogynistic. At the premiere, a dozen protesters held a peaceful demonstration on the sidewalk.
Noted: Normally, a high-profile picture like "Basic Instinct" would have made its debut at a large public theater, followed by a bash at an exclusive restaurant. Having the event on the studio lot kept the controversial affair from being too public. (TriStar said the decision for the location was "assisted" by the expectation of protest.)
The Analysis: The movie, which opens today in 1,565 theaters nationwide, has Hollywood skittish. No show-business organization wants to seem insensitive to minority concerns. Some, however, believe the protests may backfire, providing "Basic Instinct" with reams of free publicity. (Consensus is unlikely on the political correctness of a thriller about a bisexual ice pick murderess.)
Who Was There: Director Paul Verhoeven; stars Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza and Leilani Sarelle (Michael Douglas gave interviews before the film but did not attend the party); and guests Faye Dunaway, Richard Grieco, Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Courtney Cox, Joel Silver and Dennis Miller. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who has had well-publicized differences with Verhoeven and the cast, was nowhere to be seen; a TriStar spokeswoman said she didn't know if he'd been invited.
Dress Code: Come as you are after work. Sharon Stone wore the increasingly popular red ribbon pinned to her blouse, symbolizing support for the fight against AIDS.
Chow: Chicken, pate, cheeses, fruit, dessert buffet, cappuccino.
Point: "If we saw more positive portrayals in the media, we wouldn't be out here," said Jehan Agrama of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, as she distributed leaflets to drivers entering the studio. Agrama said the protesters are expected at local theaters tonight.
Counterpoint: Stone said she understood why there had been so much news coverage of the "Basic Instinct" controversy. "Those are the things that make news copy," Stone said. "But I hope that ultimately the thing that makes news copy is how much fun it is to watch the movie." Said Sarelle, who plays Stone's lover in the film, "It's a wonderful film. It's about relationships and thrill killing, and the whole moral judgment is too bad."
* MOVIE REVIEW F1