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RSVP / Into The Night

A Monster Premiere for 'Godzilla' in NYC

May 20, 1998|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Monday's mega-premiere (the largest indoor screening in New York history) of TriStar's "Godzilla." It was an extravaganza on the scale of Donald Trump's ego. More than 13,000 fans packed Madison Square Garden to watch that peevish, havoc-wreaking Rambo of the Reptiles perform on a specially hung 80-by-35-foot screen. "It's great old-fashioned showmanship," was co-star Harry Shearer's comment on the night. "If Hollywood can't do showmanship, what can it do?"

The After-Party: A colossal street bash on the miffed lizard's preferred stomping grounds. One block of 31st Street was sealed and done over by Merv Griffin Productions as a monster-pummeled Manhattan with Marines, overturned taxis, tanks, burning barrels and a helicopter landing pad. Co-star Hank Azaria viewed the scene and said, "It's like it's my bar mitzvah and the theme is Godzilla."

Who Was There: Stars Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Azaria and Shearer; director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin; among the 3,500 party guests were Muhammad Ali, Helen Hunt, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nick Nolte, Reese Witherspoon, Puff Daddy avec entourage, the B-52's, Tommy Mottola, Jennifer Grey and the Taco Bell Chihuahua (the '90s Lassie?).

Quoted: New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he liked the film's portrayal of his citizens and their relationship with Godzilla. "Look how accepting the city was of an immigrant," said His Honor with a straight face.

Chow: A theme menu would have called for microwaved iguana-kabobs, but calmer minds prevailed and two-dozen buffets served multiethnic cuisine.

Overheard: One local couldn't quite place the name of the older Asian actor in the crowd. "I think he got stepped on in the original film," said his friend.

Observed: Heavy D thought there should have been a giant inflatable Godzilla looming over the party. When told the filmmakers prefer that the lizard king's appearance be a surprise to filmgoers, the rapper paused a moment, then said, "Well, in that case, they should have had Barney."

Keeping the Right Perspective: "It's not truly a horror movie," said Jennifer Tilly, "because the Gucci, Prada and Dolce Gabbana stores remain intact."

* ENTERTAINMENT GIANT: Hank Azaria speaks, and "Godzilla" stalks the aisles. F1, 4, 5

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