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RSVP : An Animated Crowd Greets 'Pocahontas'


Even though the festivities began at what many attendees think of as nap time, this event was geared toward guests under four feet tall--the Los Angeles premiere of Disney's latest animated epic, "Pocahontas," at El Capitan theater in Hollywood on Sunday, followed by a party in the parking lot behind the theater.

The event benefited California Institute for the Arts, which appeared to be well-deserving of the attention as more than 30 of the people who worked on the film are Cal Arts graduates.

On hand were Irene Bedard, Russell Means, Christian Bale and Billy Connolly, who provide some of the voices behind the animation. Celebrity guests included Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall, Ellen Barkin and Pat Sajak. That stunning woman in the black Armani cocktail dress, who looked exactly like the film's animated title character, turned out to be Bedard, who did, indeed, provide the heroine's voice.

"That's Disney characters," said Bedard. "Even in 'The Lion King,' it's easy to see--hey, that lion is Jeremy Irons."

Said Russell Means, who is the voice of Pocahontas' father, "I was stunned. This movie is so positive about American Indians. For once we're the good guys; it's the first time. Chief Powhatan was one of my boyhood idols."

During the movie, kids snacked on chocolate bars and popcorn. At the party, everything a kid would love to eat--except for peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches--was available: custom-topped pizzas, miniature burgers, tiny pumpkin pies, ice cream, snow cones. Most cartoon-like were giant bowls of raw miniature vegetables, including carrots with the tops still on. Maybe Disney expected Bugs Bunny to crash the party.

Kid-friendly activities were numerous: canoe rides, a Ferris wheel, climbing structures and several arts and crafts tables. Unfortunately, the afternoon sun was so intense, a certain amount of weariness among parents was inevitable. Many a stoic grimace was exchanged while parents slogged across the boiling Astroturf on the trail of tireless toddlers.

When the sun finally set, parents seemed to heave sighs of relief. By the end of the day, more adults than children were happily beading necklaces and constructing clay structures at the crafts tables.

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