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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

A Gay Time Was Had by All

September 19, 1997|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Wednesday's benefit premiere of Paramount's "In & Out" on the studio lot. A party / concert followed the screening of one of 1997's most eagerly awaited comedies. "Hopefully we've made a warm and affectionate movie," said director Frank Oz. "We try to make characters the audience will care about. If you don't feel for the characters, you're going to have empty laughs."

Who Was There: The film's star, Kevin Kline; co-stars Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds and Bob Newhart; executive producer Adam Schroeder; plus 800 guests including Steve Martin (who called Cusack "brilliant" and predicted an Oscar nomination), Geena Davis, Sean McPherson with Gina Gershon, Cameron Diaz, Kim Green, Lisa Henson, Doug MacLaren; and studio execs Jonathan Dolgen, Sherry Lansing and Rob Friedman.

The Buzz: That two of the year's cleverest and wittiest films ("In & Out" and "L.A. Confidential") open opposite each other this weekend. So where were movies like this during the summer wasteland?

The Party: A dozen American cuisine buffets were laid out by Along Came Mary, but the evening's electric bouffant was a full-blown performance by the Village People. They came complete with a four-alarm fire level of smoke, multicolored concert lights, semaphore flags and a specially constructed stage. The sound system was robust enough to attract police interest. It kind of gives you hope for Hollywood creativity when you see wildly gesturing studio execs standing on a fountain's rim singing along with "YMCA."

On Survival: "You can't kill the Village People," said producer Allan Carr, who made "Can't Stop the Music," the group's 1980 film. "They keep coming back. It's like you can't kill off bell-bottoms, platform shoes and Burt Reynolds' career. I take that back--I think we have killed off Burt Reynolds' career."

Quoted: Kline on playing a teacher who a former student announces is gay during an Oscar acceptance speech just one week before the teacher's wedding: "The key is to ground the character in reality, to make it as real as possible. However outrageous the situation is, my job as an actor is to make it real and let it be as outrageous as it is."

Money Matters: Tickets were $300 and more than $100,000 was raised for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "The funds are used to support state and local community organizing," said co-chair Alan Hergott. "We're working to protect gay parents, stop homophobic violence and pass civil rights legislation."

The Last Word: "I'm so out of the closet the only thing I have left to confess is that I'm lactose intolerant," said publicist / gay activist Howard Bragman.

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