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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

Shaking Their Sense of Security

November 04, 1996|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Friday's benefit premiere of Touchstone and Imagine's "Ransom" at the Village Theater with a party afterward at the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum. The tale of child kidnapping enthralled, agitated and terrified the audience. This film could do for kids playing alone outside what "Jaws" did for ocean swimming.

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Who Was There: Stars Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo; director Ron Howard, and producer Brian Grazer; plus 1,300 guests including Jodie Foster, Michael Keaton, Tim Allen, Henry Winkler, John Cusack, Ivan Reitman, Michael Bey, Mark Johnson and studio execs Michael Eisner, Mike Ovitz, Joe Roth and Donald DeLine.

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Overheard: When the film still hadn't begun rolling half an hour past the scheduled starting time, one guest muttered, "Maybe someone kidnapped the projectionist."

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Observed: The film pushed all the parent/child fear buttons. "I ran to the bathroom to call the nanny and tell her to make sure the security system is on," said actress Tracy Tweed. She wasn't alone. Mel Gibson said the film taps into "a parental id and people want to face their id. That's what all those fairy tales are about. Kids love that stuff and so do adults."

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Quoted: "This is the first film I've made that isn't first and foremost a celebration. This is a darker more critical look at the human experience," said director Ron Howard. "You're asking people to confront fears and the ramifications of character weakness. In a comedy you joke about it, but here you're inviting a little more genuine soul-searching."

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Money Matters: Tickets were $250, and more than $285,000 was raised for USC's School of Cinema-Television. "We have to buy film stock, lights, cameras for the 200 projects our students make each year," said Dean Elizabeth Daley. "It's like we run a studio that doesn't make any money." (There were a number of execs present ready to welcome her to the club.)

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Dress Mode: After-work functional with the occasional flamboyant exception. Angela Jankelow wore a Gucci, zebra-striped, three-piece pantsuit that she wears only on rare occasions. She described the garment as "a no-repeat-business kind of suit."

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Irony: Holding a benefit for USC in Westwood during UCLA's homecoming weekend. (Part of whose celebration included a band-led parade past the theater minutes before the screening.) Once again, SC gets the money, UCLA gets the tuba music.

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