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R S V P / INTO THE NIGHT

Those With an Appetite for All Things Country

August 23, 1994|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The scene: A celebrity- and rhinestone-studded gala opening of the Country Star Hollywood restaurant, newest addition to Universal Studios CityWalk, on Sunday evening. Around 500 guests were present, and everybody's favorite faux street was jammed with around 300 onlookers to watch another musical genre go the theme-restaurant route.

"It's an American dream," said Country Star CEO and Chairman Robert Schuster, whose soon-to-be chain of multimedia- and memorabilia-packed restaurants is, by the way, a publicly traded corporation. "I had a concept and I could go to Wall Street and actually raise money to produce this. I don't know where else this could happen, where somebody could put together a project based on a good idea."

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Who was there: The fete was emceed by The Nashville Network hosts Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase. Country music guests included "celebrity representatives" Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and Wynonna, plus Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam. Other glitterati--drawn from elsewhere along the entertainment spectrum--included Gary Busey, Gary Coleman, Ronny Cox, Dana Delany, Wayne Gretzky, Linda Kozlowski, Little Richard, Joanne Pakula, Wink Martindale, "Models Inc." star Cameron Daddo, Forrest Gump's Mykelti Williamson, Motley Crue's Vince Neil, and the Del Rubio Triplets.

But upstaging them all, and drawing the most enthusiastic response from the otherwise tepid outside crowd was the appearance of criminal-attorney-to-the-stars Robert Shapiro, dressed in an embroidered Western shirt and snakeskin boots, with wife and kids in tow.

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Chow: A buffet big enough to sate the heartiest country appetites--ribs, steak, chicken, chili and salads. Waiters cruised the tightly packed party with trays of fajitas, coconut fried chicken and corn bread. Thirsts were amply slaked at the open bar.

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Quoted: "I've loved country music since I was a kid," said rock's elder statesman, Little Richard, who skipped the Stetson and boots in favor of a flamboyant print shirt. "You got to remember that '56 rock 'n' roll is what country music is today. All that rock 'n' roll is country music to this generation."

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