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Stars Are Out for 'Angels,' Dawn Steel

April 10, 1998|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There was a heavenly gathering of celebrities, industry brass, and photo and autograph hounds in Westwood on Wednesday night for the premiere of "City of Angels" at the Mann's Village, with the overflow pouring into the Mann's Bruin.

The event was a benefit for the Dawn Steel Putting Girls in the Picture Fund at Big Sisters of Los Angeles, named after the pioneering female movie executive who died in December. "City of Angels" was her last project. It was co-produced by her husband, Charles Roven, who stepped in when Steel was too ill to see it through.

The film, starring Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher, is about angels (of both mercy and death) who roam the city when they're not hanging out in the public library. In keeping with the film's aerial feel, the party after the screening was at the panoramic Sky Bar at the Mondrian.

The entire cast was on hand along with Roven and director Brad Silberling.

Also spotted were Jim Carrey, who set tongues wagging by arriving with ex-wife Lauren Holly, James Woods, Rosanna and Patricia Arquette, Dennis Quaid and Minnie Driver. Musical artists Seal, k.d. lang and the Goo Goo Dolls were also there, along with movie execs Sherry Lansing and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"I've been trying to find a way to convey with acting the little things in life that we all take for granted, such as the taste of a pear or the way the ocean water feels on your skin," said Cage, who plays the angel struck by earthly love for Ryan. "I know it sounds trivial, but it's really not.

"I've had days where it's been rough, and I'll be driving home and I'll smell the night-blooming jasmine in the air, and everything will just stop for 10 minutes, and I'll forget about my problems. I wanted to convey that, if you just take a moment to stop and taste the pear or smell the night-blooming jasmine, things might be OK."

Before the screening, Roven remembered his wife in a speech. "She was smart, sexy, sensitive, funny, charismatic and tough. But one of the things Dawn was most passionate about was self-esteem. To Dawn, having self-esteem was as crucial to living as oxygen.

"Self-esteem is what Putting Girls in the Picture Fund is all about. Giving young women, who have not yet developed strong positive senses of self, the opportunity to do so by interacting with caring role models."

Ticket prices started at $100 for the screening alone and went as high as $25,000. About $391,000 so far has been collected for the fund.

REFER:

* MOVIE REVIEW

Kenneth Turan on "City of Angels." F1

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