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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

A Caribbean Isle Paradise in Century City

June 11, 1997|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Monday's launch of 20th Century Fox's "Speed 2: Cruise Control" at the Century City Cineplex Odeon. The sequel comes from Jan De Bont, director of the original and of "Twister." For aficionados of his work, look hard for the flying cow. It's not easy sticking an airborne Guernsey in a Caribbean boat movie.

The Party: A nearby parking lot was done over by Party Planners West in an island theme with thatched huts, guava berry colada stands, dozens of faux palms, seven tons of sand, steel drum bands, machete-wielding coconut choppers, casino games and a 200-foot-long boardwalk laid toward the centerpiece--a 48-by-60-foot "dimensionalized" backdrop of the ship's prow bursting through the St. Martin's harbor. Record producer Don Was made the wry comment that he "thought that was the Steven Spielberg restaurant."

Who Was There: The film's stars, Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric; director De Bont; screenwriter Randy McCormick; and 1,500 guests including Melissa Etheridge, Dyan Cannon, Tia Carrere, Salma Hayek, Julie Delpy, Eric Idle, Martin Landau, Paul Davids and studio execs Bill Mechanic, Tom Sherak and Bob Harper.

The Buzz: How tough the summer film marketplace is. This year's popcorn movie tsunami means the-boat-that-can't-stop has to beat the recidivist dinosaurs and the flying convicts before Batman shows up.

Quoted: De Bont has a legendary "intensity." Co-star Royale Watkins said the director is guaranteed to go ballistic when a camera operator misses a shot. "He starts cursing in English," said Watkins. "Then he starts with that cursing in Dutch and then you better walk away from the man."

The Entertainment: Basil the Magnificent did his fire-eating, dancing-on-glass, voodoo-plus-limbo act; the Common Sense soul / reggae band played as did the St. Martin-based King Beau Beau & the Solid Gold Dancers (in sequined halter tops and hot pants) and the Einstein Brown Steel Drum Band. They might not be stars, but Hollywood could learn a lot about names from these guys.

Subject of Conversation: It might be a credit to the film's realism, but a number of guests mentioned feeling seasick. Though one woman did say: "I get seasick at Gladstone's sitting on the deck."

Overheard: The credits mention that "no animals were harmed in the making of this film." One of the myriad screenwriters who toiled on the plot wondered aloud: "Do writers count as animals?"

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