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INTO THE NIGHT / BILL HIGGINS

'Philadelphia' Moves the Masses

December 16, 1993|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: Tuesday's benefit world premiere of TriStar's "Philadelphia" at the Cineplex Odeon theater. A buffet supper followed at the nearby Century Plaza Hotel. Though the film is primarily about AIDS and discrimination, "It's also about something much greater," said star Tom Hanks. "How we treat each other."

Who Was There: The film's stars, Hanks and Denzel Washington; co-stars Mary Steenburgen and Ron Vawter; director Jonathan Demme, plus 1,150 guests including Eddie Murphy, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and Renny Harlin, Dana Delany, Rita Walters, Martin Short, Rick Nicita, studio execs Peter Guber, Mike Medavoy and Marc Platt, and Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen, who both have songs in the film. "I've never written anything for something else before," said Springsteen, whose "Streets of Philadelphia" plays over the opening titles. "But I think this is a picture the country's waiting for. I was just happy to put my two cents in."

Audience Reaction: The phrase "deeply moved" doesn't quite do it justice. Mike Myers said he was "a gelatinous lump by the end of the movie." One measure of impact is the audience stayed seated for all the credits. "It was the most reverential crowd in the history of Hollywood," said one observer. Usually, as the credits roll, the theater "looks like the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium."

Quoted: Hanks said he's concerned "Philadelphia" has "the banner of being An Important Movie and the audience will feel it's going to be lectured for two hours. Our job is to convince them there's nothing to be afraid of." His rhyme on having the right balance in the film is: "We gotta make sure they laugh and cry so they'll kiss those seven bucks goodby."

Also Quoted: To the umpteenth news crew asking why it took Hollywood so long to make a movie about AIDS, Eddie Murphy replied, "Why pick on Hollywood? How come it took so long for the government to address the issue?"

Money Matters: Tickets ranged from $175 to $1,000 and $250,000 was netted for AIDS Project Los Angeles. "We constantly need money," said APLA chair Steve Tisch. "With this we can keep the doors open for two weeks."

Dress Mode: Business attire (or what one woman called "corporate cocktail.") On a very cold night this ranges from Cindy Crawford with a bare midriff to dozens of men in dark suits and tan raincoats.

Blackface Comes to the Middle East: A guest mentioned that she'd recently been in Israel "and at the mud baths near the Dead Sea there were all these people jumping around pretending they were Ted Danson."

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