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This Fete Drove Everyone Buggy

November 17, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A human colony of more than 1,000 antsy kids and grown-ups made like ants over the weekend at Disney's star-studded world premiere of the Pixar computer-animated film "A Bug's Life."

Proving that industrious teamwork pays off, kids and parents filed into Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre on a green (for grass) carpet, took their seats and cheered the film about an ant colony saving its island against greedy grasshoppers who make their lives miserable.

And when it was all over, the crowd--in ant-like orderly fashion--invaded the Bug House, an amusement center next door, where everyone went buggy. Kids, proving that they can only be contained and controlled for so long, spread out in all directions, doing battle against ferocious grasshoppers in an interactive game room or hanging out in P.T. Flea's Circus shooting hoops and throwing darts for windup bug prizes.

Joining in the fun were the film's voice actors, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dave Foley, David Hyde Pierce, Phyllis Diller, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Edie McClurg, Michael McShane, Brad Garrett, Jonathan Harris and Hayden Panettiere; and its director, John Lasseter--a two-time Oscar winner--who said it took four years to make the movie and that he was thrilled to finally get the cast together, in person, for the first time.

Also there were co-director Andrew Stanton; producers Darla Anderson and Kevin Reher; and composer Randy Newman.

Other guests included Pixar Chairman Steve Jobs and Disney biggies Peter Schneider, Joe Roth, Michael Eisner and Dick Cook. Celeb sightings included Antonio Banderas and kids (sans wife Melanie Griffith), Tim Allen, Andy Dick, Vicki Lewis, Maura Tierney, and Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan.

Foley, who voiced the unconventional ant hero Flik in the flick, worked on the project for more than two years.

On playing the itty-bitty guy, he said: "I actually felt like I was 10 feet tall because this ant talks! I always used to enjoy watching ants, and will still get on my hands and knees with my kids and watch an ant colony for a while."

He took the part because of the film's lessons of "individuality and social commitment," he explained to a group of kids around him at the party who were more interested in getting an autograph and chomping on hot dogs.

Louis-Dreyfus, the expressive voice of Princess Atta, the future queen of the anthill, returned many a hug from kids who raced up to the actress while hanging out in the Ant Island Arcade area.

"I hope that children come away learning about the power of community and that people working together have extraordinary power," she said.

"A Bug's Life" opens Friday with an exclusive run at El Capitan Theater through Jan. 3. Ticket (prices range from $13 to $28 for VIP seats) includes admission to the Bug House next door. Call (800) DISNEY6 for reservations.

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