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RSVP / INTO THE NIGHT

A Good Party and a Good Cry

September 18, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Here's a prediction for ya: Calls to moms will be jamming the phone lines across Los Angeles today when Universal Pictures' "One True Thing"--a mother-daughter three-hankie story based on Anna Quindlen's book and starring Meryl Streep--opens in theaters.

At the film's star-studded premiere in Century City on Wednesday night, several moviegoers sobbed throughout the film and later dialed their moms on cell phones, just to say, "Hello. How's it going, Ma?"

"There's a line in the film from Meryl Streep's character in which she tells her daughter 'more is more,' as opposed to less is more," the film's director, Carl Franklin, said at the premiere's pre-party at the ABC Entertainment Center Plaza (because of the movie's intensely emotional plot, Universal wisely decided to let guests eat and enjoy beforehand). "And to me, that's the message: to care right now about the people in your life that you care about, to give life all that you have to give."

About 1,000 guests (many of whom came prepared for the movie with tissue boxes) drank and dined on pasta, Parmesan chicken and roast beef at the party, which raised more than $160,000 for Big Sisters of Los Angeles, a nonprofit group that matches at-risk girls ages 6 to 16 with volunteer mentors.

Congratulating Franklin, Streep and co-stars Renee Zellweger, Lauren Graham and Michele Shay were guests including Christine Lahti, Mimi Rogers, Russell Crowe, Michael Keaton, Don Cheadle, Carrie Fisher, Fairuza Balk, Adam Arkin, Reba McEntire, Kevin Sorbo, Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber, who co-chaired the event with Sarah Purcell.

Also on hand were the film's producers, Jesse Beaton and Harry Ufland; executive producers William W. Wilson III and Leslie Morgan; the screenwriter, Karen Croner; and Universal bigwigs Stacey Snider, Allison Brecker, Marc Shmuger, Mary Parent, Scott Stuber, Karen Hernelin and Eddie Egan.

But all eyes were on Streep as she accepted a special crystal trophy from the Big Sisters and flowers from several teenagers in the organization.

"I'm a big fan of Big Sisters," she told the crowd, "and I'm so glad that you're supporting us here tonight. I hope you like the movie. And if you don't, don't tell anybody. If you do, tell everyone."

In an interview before the screening, Streep said she hopes moviegoers "will leave this film a little grateful to be alive, to have the people that you love in your life in your life.

"For me, when I go to the movies I want to be filled up, you know, I want to feel things intensely. I guess that's what I like about movies."

She said she learned a few things about herself while making the film. "I've learned that I can be more tenacious than I am usually. You know I think of myself as lazy--and I am, there is a great amount of truth in that. But I think there were a couple of instances in this film where I held on very tightly to what I believed needed to be done, and I'm glad. It's so satisfying to realize that little things mean a lot. They really do."

Zellweger said she hopes the movie's message "will serve as a great reminder to not take for granted the people who love you, and the contributions that they make in your life." She said she experienced those feelings everyday on the set. "I would say to myself, 'I would never do that--or wait, would I?' And then I'd make a phone call to mom--every time, every time."

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