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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

'Apollo' Sends 'Em Over the Moon

June 26, 1995|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Thursday's liftoff for Universal and Imagine's "Apollo 13" at the Motion Picture Academy. An outdoor party followed on a nearby lot. The moon-mission-gone-bad story's appeal was described by Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon this way: "It's like those Tarzan films where he dives in the water and swims and swims and swims. And you think you can hold your breath as long as Tarzan can. It's like you go through it with him."

Who Was There: The film's stars, Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan; director Ron Howard; producer Brian Grazer; plus 1,100 guests, including Kevin Costner, Penny Marshall, Henry Winkler, Chazz Palminteri, Eric Idle, Kate Capshaw, Phil Hartman, Kelly Preston, Jane Jenkins, real-life Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell (who praised space aficionado Hanks as "a closet astronaut"), Al Teller, Tom Pollock, Casey Silver and Edgar Bronfman Jr., with wife Clarissa, making his own premiere appearance as the new owner of MCA/Universal.

The Buzz: This is the best film of the summer. And that Howard's due for an Academy Award nomination. Hanks, however, discounted talk that he'd get another acting Oscar. "I think there would be suicide jumpers from the third tier of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion," he said. "They'd be shouting, 'No more! Not again! Not again!' "

The Other Buzz: What makes the film work is audiences care more about any calamity--whether it be AIDS, mental disability or being marooned in space--when it happens to Hanks. "Trying to analyze why people care about Tom Hanks is like trying to explain a phenomenon of the heart," said John Travolta. "You just fall in love with him. It's like he represents all of our collective hearts."

Quoted: "I think the Apollo 13 mission has got everything the Greeks ever put into a story," Hanks said. "It's like Ulysses strapped to the mast hearing the sirens calling when Lovell's not able to walk on the moon. It has human frailty, because we built this thing that blew up, and at the same time great human accomplishment, because we figured out how to get them back. It's better than any fiction."

Chow: The urge to serve Tang was resisted. There were major buffets of soft-shell crab, fried calamari, sauteed rock shrimp and pasta. One visible sign of Universal's new ownership was the stocking of Seagrams liquors at the bar.

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