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INTO THE NIGHT / BILL HIGGINS

Grazing as the Harpist Plays a Tune

April 21, 1993|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: Monday's West Coast premiere of the Environmental Media Assn. and HBO documentary "Earth and the American Dream," which airs Thursday. The screening and reception were at the Directors Guild. "It's the story of our pursuit of the American dream," said director Bill Couturie. "And the price the Earth paid to make that dream come true."

Who Was There: Couturie, EMA's Lauren McMahon and Andy Spahn, HBO's Cis Wilson; plus 500 guests, including Howard Hesseman, Paula Poundstone, Taylor Negron, Norman and Lyn Lear, AFI's Jean Firstenberg, Julie Carmen, Richard Baskin and Jerry Rubin.

The Buzz: The documentary's message was intense, and guests were a bit subdued afterward. "It's a bummer," Negron said about the environmental situation. "A total, full-on, 360-degree bummer. But we have to know and talk about it." One guest said the film's use of captions and images was "like grazing at the End of the World Greeting Card Shop."

Bill and Billy: Last week, the film's Washington screening tour included an hour-long get-together with President Clinton in the Oval Office that EMA arranged. "It was so effusive and friendly and warm," said McMahon about the meeting. "Of course it helps to have Billy Crystal by your side."

Dress Mode: Women in cowboy boots and long, flowery, neo-romantic dresses; men in tennis shoes, jeans, black T-shirts and sports jackets. One woman described both looks as "the standard documentary film crowd uniform." Another guest noted that "this would not be a good party for wearing fur."

Chow: Ultra-environmentally correct/low on the food chain. No disposables, no cut flowers and a vegetarian-except-for-chicken menu from Ambrosia that included vegetable sushi, focaccia sandwiches and grilled veggies. The evening was punctuated by the occasional sound of real plates and real glasses crashing to the floor.

Overheard: "You proposed to me at the last HBO party," said a woman as she approached a man who didn't seem to recognize her.

Entertainment: At the reception, there was harpist named Pandora ("I'm from the land of one-name people, like Charo, Cher and Lassie.") who performed pop music. "Harpists have to play the theme from 'Phantom of the Opera,' " said Pandora. "There's a law in California that requires it."

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