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R.S.V.P. / Into the Night

4th 'Weapon' Debuts With a Bang

July 09, 1998|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Tuesday's premiere of Warner Bros.' "Lethal Weapon 4" at Mann's Chinese with an after-party at Yamashiro restaurant. On the action-comedy franchise's fourth emergence, star Mel Gibson said, "This one's in the spirit of the others. It's got a few more yuks and a little more heart."

The Event: Understatement was not the evening's theme. Two blocks of Hollywood Boulevard were blocked off; a stadium-size video screen showed arrivals; adding to the melee were a Chinese dragon, ceremonial drummers and a dozen acrobatic wushu martial artists battling with swords and spears to amuse 2,000 fans crowding the sidewalk. The stars arrived with a six-car police motorcade and there was a ceremony--Danny Glover did the traditional hands / feet imprint in cement. Perhaps the only understatement came from producer Joel Silver, who said, "We wanted them to know we were there."

Who Was There: The film's stars, Glover, Gibson, Joe Pesci, Chris Rock, Jet Li and Rene Russo; director Richard Donner; producer Silver; and 1,500 guests (850 at the party) including George Clooney, Wesley Snipes, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Donny Osmond, Michael Milken, Lou Pitt, Mark Canton and studio execs Bob Daly, Terry Semel and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

Who Got the Attention: The crowd went wild over, in Rock's words, "the greatest stand-up comedian who ever lived" as Richard Pryor entered in a wheelchair. The photographers were beside themselves trying to find the evening's big-money shot--Michael Jackson's wife, Debbie Rowe.

Buzz: Familiarity breeds box office. The audience is so comfortable with the "Lethal" characters, it's almost like they're watching a heavily armed "Seinfeld" cast blasting away. Rapper Heavy D said, "It's like you know everybody, like you've been in their living room."

The Politics of Being Potted: Current stars honored by the Chinese theater's wet-cement treatment don't supplant any old-timers. While the arrivistes get the ceremony in the theater's forecourt, the final resting place for their block of imprinted pavement is elsewhere on the grounds. "It's kind of like plots at Forest Lawn," said one studio exec who's sensitive to the situation. "You want a nice view, but you don't want to displace your Uncle Freddy."

Fashion Statement: The night's key style was that of the actress / model in a no-visible-means-of-support black slip dress worn sans underwear with heavy platform shoes. One woman described this as the "no support on top, lots of support on your feet" look.

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