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INTO THE NIGHT / BILL HIGGINS

Connecticut Haiku Goes Hollywood

March 16, 1994|BILL HIGGINS

The Scene: New Yorker magazine editor Tina Brown's dinner Monday at the Hotel Bel-Air celebrating a special issue, "The New Yorker Goes to the Movies." On newsstands this week, it's devoted entirely to film. Gore Vidal thought the issue was a good idea because, "Movies are really the only thing the world knows anything about. So if you're going to cover the world this is what everyone knows about. Forget the other arts, alas."

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Subtext to the evening: The old line about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, "She gave him sex appeal, he gave her class," applies equally well to the New Yorker/Hollywood fusion.

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Who Was There: Mega-turnout. It's not often a guest list ranges from Robin Williams to Lassie. Among the 250 guests were Brown and husband Harold Evans, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Rosie Perez, Glenn Close, Michael and Jane Eisner, Lee Radziwill, Mike Medavoy, William Friedkin and Sherry Lansing, Dominick Dunne, Arianna Huffington, Betty and Richard Koshalek, Ed Ruscha, John Lithgow, Doug Cramer, Roddy McDowall, Bobby Short, Al Ruddy, Joel Silver, Oliver Stone, Raquel Welch, Billy Wilder and CAA's Mike Ovitz, who is referred to in one New Yorker article as "lord high suzerain of the entertainment universe."

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Talk of the Room: Mostly they talked about who was there. "It's sort of interesting seeing people from different worlds and who makes the cut," said writer Lynn Hirschberg. Talent agent Joan Hyler said it was, "an extremely diva-laden evening." Those who'd read the issue loved it. Those who were in the issue loved it even more.

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Why Lassie: He (yes, Lassie is a he), the eighth generation of his noble line to play the role, has a book out celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lassie in film. He also has a training video, a movie, plush dolls, watches, etc. Even dogs have to do promotion.

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Setting: The party design was done by New York's Aero Studio with two adjoining tents at the hotel's entrance. The reception and after-party were held under red canvas done in an Oriental/fantasy motif--"Cocteau meets Dr. Seuss at Grauman's Chinese," co-designer William Sofield called it. It opened onto the dining area, a 50-foot-by-80-foot diaphanous white tent hung with 500 paper lanterns. The overall effect was dazzling.

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Quoted: "This issue is not about Hollywood glitz at all," said Brown. "That, in fact, is exactly what we planned not to do. It's about the creative process of film. It's about the life, rather than the lifestyle. It's about the work rather than the money. We're celebrating the work with this issue, not the money, not the lifestyle, not the planes, not the limos. "

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Also Quoted: Asked what he had learned from the Paramount takeover battle, Barry Diller said, "I had a great lesson in things I was not overly educated about--Wall Street and a certain kind of base human kind."

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The Program: After an erudite introduction by Vidal, Brown spoke about the special issue. They were both topped by Robin Williams, who took the mike for a 10-minute performance. At one point he assumed a telethon host voice and said, "I think that's why we're here this evening--to help raise money for the New Yorker. You can't sell a magazine with just literature and Connecticut haiku."

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