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They Came, They Saw, They Phoned Home

March 20, 1997|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Tuesday's premiere of Universal's "Liar, Liar" at the Universal Amphitheatre. Not since "King Kong" has a film belonged to one actor the way this one belongs to Jim Carrey. "I'm a small, squeaky wheel on a Jim Carrey vehicle propelling him to further stardom," said co-star Jennifer Tilly. "After a couple days on the set, I realized my job was to merely be reactive. I ran through my repertoire of bemused expressions."

Who Was There: Carrey; co-stars Tilly, Swoosie Kurtz and Cary Elwes; director Tom Shadyac; producer Brian Grazer; and 3,000 guests including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Carrie Fisher, Penny Marshall, Matthew Perry, Jacqueline Bisset, Rodney Dangerfield, Dennis Farina, Julianne Moore, Lisa Kudrow, Richard Green, Joel Silver and studio execs Edgar Bronfman Jr., Ron Meyer and Casey Silver.

Quoted: "The difference with this film is there's a lot of physical comedy, but it's all motivated by something real," Carrey said. "I go where I usually go, but relationships and actual chemical reactions between people motivate the character. Rather than where I just play a maniac."

Observed: As the Academy Awards approach ("Hollywood's holiest day," in the words of one industry savant), the heavy betting was on "The English Patient." In the realm of personal campaigns, best supporting actor nominee James Woods said that since ballots had to be in by 5 p.m. Tuesday, "if I smile at someone tonight, I really mean it."

Pastimes: The tented after-party featured a dozen buffets, sets from the film, a phone bank from which guests could make free calls, and Home Run Derby "virtual motion" 3-D baseball batting cages. These are Uberhigh-tech video games. They are to pinball machines what sheep cloning is to growing mold in a petri dish.

The Splendor of Show Biz Ambition: The writer / director / producer of the independent film "Psycho Sushi" used the free phone service opportunity to call her Japanese investors. "I told them to send more money," Lisa Haisha said.

Fashion Statement: Tilly wore a metallic, floor-length figure-hugging Missoni gown she recently bought in Italy. "I pulled it off a model right on a runway," said the actress. "Somewhere in Milan there's a tall, skinny naked model wondering when she's going to get her dress back."

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