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RSVP / Into The Night

Star-Grazing on a Feast Fit for a Presidential Candidate

March 16, 1998|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: The campaign trail ended at Cineplex Odeon Universal Studios Theater on Thursday night as celebrities, fans and VIPs gathered for the premiere of Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors," adapted from the anonymously written novel of political and sexual high and low jinks during a presidential primary. (Political columnist Joe Klein has long since admitted to writing the novel, but the credits cite the book by Anonymous.) The film stars John Travolta as the tubby Southern Gov. Bill . . . uh, Jack Stanton. Also featured are Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, Maura Tierney, Paul Guilfoyle, Kathy Bates and Larry Hagman. Also on-screen are enough cameos to fill an antique mall, and the desire to ID them all kept the entire audience in the theater until all the credits had rolled. Afterward, the guests followed the red carpet to a large tented reception nearby.

Who Was There: Attending from the film were director Nichols (with Diane Sawyer), Travolta (with Kelly Preston), Thompson, Lester, Tierney, Guilfoyle and Hagman. Also on the scene were Rob Reiner, Bill Maher (both of whom appeared in the movie), Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Robert Duvall, Bonnie Hunt, Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Farina, Robert Forster, Ben Stiller, Penny Marshall, Candice Bergen, Neil Simon and many others, although there was considerable celebrity attrition between the film and party.

Chow: Guests were first offered glazed doughnuts from a Krusty Kreme doughnut stand, riffing on the president-to-be's love of snacks. Other high-calorie executive treats included fried chicken, barbecue beef and chicken, various burgers, tacos, jambalaya and rich desserts aplenty.

Wagging the Dog Again: The name "Monica" seemed to pop up quite a bit in the post-screening chatter. Many tried to match characters and incidents from the film to their real-life counterparts. "I kept watching that thinking, 'Who was that senator?' And 'Kathy Bates was which character?' " said Robert Forster. "Honestly, I didn't know which ones were which, but it was a powerful movie nonetheless."

Bill and Hillary Who?: If the guests reveled in the film's tabloid topicality, the stars did not. "I think this is a movie--a movie that people are finding cathartic," said the now slimmed-down Travolta. "It's a comment on us, on society, on politics, and it's funny. But it's separate from certain issues that they're trying to collapse it into. I think when people get into the movie, they'll really see that it's got its own life."

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