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INTO THE NIGHT

RSVP : Irish Eyes Were Smiling Over This Filum

February 27, 1995|BETTY GOODWIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Thursday's unveiling of Savoy Pictures' "Circle of Friends," an old-fashioned romantic movie filmed in Ireland and directed by the Irish Pat O'Connor (OK, its star Chris O'Donnell is American, but everyone thought he did a persuasive Irish brogue), benefited the American Ireland Fund. Members of the nonprofit organization, who gathered first at the AMC Century 14 theater and then at Jimmy's for supper, take partial credit for influencing the peace process in Northern Ireland, where the fund supports projects, including 21 integrated schools for Protestant and Catholic children.

You Should Know: While the acclaimed Irish author Maeve Binchy, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, and English actress Minnie Driver, the female lead, traveled the farthest to Century City, it was O'Donnell--shooting "Batman Forever" in L.A. --who had the hardest time getting there. At one point there wasn't even a chance he would be "released" (a rep's word), but there he was, minus Robin's hoop earring, in search of a Guinness.

Who Else Was There: "Circle" villain Alan Cumming, Savoy president Rob Fried, the film's producers Frank Price, Arlene Sellers and Alex Winitsky; Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Mrs. O'Connor), Gretchen and Michael Wayne, Father Maurice Chase, restaurateurs Jimmy and Annie Murphy, Pierce O'Donnell and Barry Hirsch.

Audience Review: "Sweet and lovely" were oft-repeated words, followed by "beautiful." "It makes me feel very proud to be Irish to see a movie of this caliber made in Ireland," said Jimmy Murphy. "I think it'll be a smash hit in Ireland and England and do very well in the U.S.," speculated Ireland's consul general Declan Kelly.

Self Review: "It was great, wasn't it?" said Binchy. "When I saw the film I thought, 'Maeve, you write very well.' "

Trivia: The Irish are understandably bursting with pride about their burgeoning movie industry, but it may take Hollywood types a second or two to understand what they're talking about. "Yeah, it's an Irishism, I guess. We say, 'It was a great filum ," said Irish actor Daragh O'Malley.

Chow: Forsaking the obvious, Murphy served chicken piccata, angel hair pasta and individual chocolate souffles with hazelnut cream.

Fashion Statements: Kelly green neckties as a warm-up for St. Patrick's Day.

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