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It Was Definitely a Splashy Premiere


In the world of charity fund-raisers, "soaking the guests" usually has to do with relieving donors of any excess cash. Not so in the case of the preview party Saturday night for Universal Studio's Jurassic Park ride, which raised over $350,000 for the Starbright Foundation.

Here soaking meant soaking. Anyone, including Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who rode the river rafts got drenched. "The general got so wet he thought he was in the Navy," commented Steven Spielberg, the ride's creative consultant, who chose to remain dry. The director has a phobia for steep drops. "Both in film grosses and in his theme park rides," quipped one fellow party-goer.

For many of the 2,000 guests, the party was a shared experience of being thrilled and damp after the 5 1/2-minute cruise through the world of rampaging dinosaurs. "It's not a glamour ride," said Tracy Warbin, whose hair was plastered against her head after going through twice. "It's not a ride for the coiffed," said her date, Noah Wyle.

"Like any great Hollywood production, it certainly has a memorable ending," said producer Steve Tisch about the final 84-foot drop into water. "It's just like the movie," said David Hasselhoff. "It sets you up with 'Aren't these the cutest little dinosaurs? Aren't they so sweet?' And then it scares the heck out of you."

One guest thought there should be a sign near the entrance, similar to the type that demonstrates height requirements, only this would have a picture of Tammy Faye Bakker and warn of possible catastrophic consequences to mascara wearers. Another thought there should be Jurassic Park hair dryers in the gift shop.

Among the guests, wet and dry, were Lew and Edie Wasserman, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Goldblum, Forest Whitaker, Blair Underwood, Antonio Sabato, and studio execs Ron Meyer, David Codiga and Ron Bension.

There was at least one Disney executive on hand checking out the competition. After all the plunging and splashing, he was most impressed by the dinosaurs' hides. "Very flexible skins," he said. "They've done some research on their skins."

In another part of the park, past the buffets of grilled hamburgers and petting zoos with 8-foot monitor lizards, vultures and boa constrictors, past the sand pits where kids dug for dinosaurs, Spielberg and Schwarzkopf demonstrated Starbright World, an on-line video network that allows seriously ill children to see and speak with each other.

"I'm really proud of this," said Spielberg. "This is really doing something. It's not just statistics, or a technological prognosis of things to come. Kid don't care about what can be done tomorrow, they need our help immediately."

While demonstrating the technology, Spielberg and Schwarzkopf attempted a dialogue with a child in her hospital room.

"Are there any questions you want to ask me or the general?" asked Spielberg.


"About 'E.T.?' "


"Jurassic Park?"


"The Army?"

It turned out she wanted to know how the ride was.

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