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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

An Evening Rated G--for All Those Giveaways

November 13, 1996|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

What's Up, Doc? There was a bit of a space jam around Mann's Chinese Theater on Sunday. Traffic snarled as Warner Bros. took over the streets and parking lots for the premiere of "Space Jam"--a hoop shooting extravaganza that served up equal parts special effects animation, and corporate trademark and product placement--starring basketball superstar Michael Jordan and cartoon icon Bugs Bunny. Afterward, there was more traffic to brave as the guests drove over the hill to a gigantic party that sprawled across the Warner studio lot.

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Who Was There: Most of Beverly Hills' nannies and baby sitters must have gotten the afternoon and evening off, since for every adult, there were three or four kids. Altogether, more than 1,000 bodies turned up, including Jordan, co-stars Wayne Knight, Danny DeVito (with wife Rhea Perlman), producer Ivan Reitman, studio co-chairs Terry Semel and Bob Daly, not to mention Bugs and his friends. Also spotted in the crowd (many with little ones in tow) were Damon Wayans (with a kid posse of seven), Kevin Costner, Coolio, Magic Johnson, Tyra Banks and Henry Winkler.

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Chow and Entertainment: This was strictly a G-rated affair. We're talking cheeseburgers, onion rings, pizza, cookies and ice cream and plenty of Coca-Cola to wash it down with, although wine and cold cuts were served up for the more adult palates. Musical entertainment was supplied by Quad City DJs, but the real entertainment came in the dozens of pinball machines and video games, and myriad variations on the basketball theme, including a trampoline-and harness-contraption that allowed kids to sink one in a 15-foot high basket.

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The Buzz: Most people thought this film was OK for the young 'uns. One jaded adult was overheard to remark, "Face it, Bugs is OK, but he's no Roger Rabbit."

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Freebies: As befits such a merchandising vehicle, there were plenty of "Space Jam" tchotchkes to be had. The children (and more than a few grown-ups) left the party weighed down with "Space Jam" hats, T-shirts, pencils, report folders, toys, backpacks and--coolest of the cool--plastic busts of Michael Jordan crammed with gum balls.

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Crossover Potential: "The thing about Michael is that he has so much charisma, concentration and relaxation that he brings with him," said "Space Jam" co-star and "Seinfeld" nebbish Wayne Knight. "So if he were to apply himself to acting in a serious way, I'm sure he would succeed. I was amazed by his facility in this situation. Acting on green screen, when there's nothing there, is really difficult, because you're trying to pretend everything. And I thought Michael did amazingly well. I think you'll see him again."

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