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Chasing Elusive Movie Stars


Bet Tzedek, the nonprofit law center that provides free legal aid to economically disadvantaged people in Los Angeles, staged its fourth annual blowout fund-raiser, the Justice Ball, at Santa Monica's Museum of Flying on Saturday.

The evening raised more than half a million dollars, according to co-chairmen Rafael Fogel and Randall Kaplan.

Press was barred from the dinner at Santa Monica's DC-3 preceding the "under 35" dance party, featuring Billy Idol and the Boogie Knights.

"We don't want paparazzi disturbing our major donors," said Susan Lev, the Bet Tzedek publicist. (The donors included prominent investment houses and law firms.) They should be so lucky; the swarm was up in Malibu on Brad-and-Jennifer-watch that night.

So Social Circuits wasn't allowed to disturb the VIPs. At the last minute, however, we were allowed into an exclusive, second-tier mini-bash in a nearby hangar, where we asked several guests how they were involved with the good work of Bet Tzedek. The standard answer?

"I dunno. My friend gave me a ticket." (Tickets for the no-host bar event were $75 per person. About 3,000 attended.)

We hung out for a while with some newfound friends, many of whom were in clear violation of the "under 35" theme, including Janet Weiland, vice president of the Church of Scientology, and Lon Tinney, a film special-effects expert who worked on the original "Star Wars."

Then the evening took a turn. Suddenly photogs were invading our so-called exclusive turf. Something was afoot on the tarmac. A rumor sweeping the crowd had it that the just-wed Mr. and Mrs. Pitt would be boarding a private jet. So much for Billy Idol screaming his lungs out to a mass of humanity swaying in the flying museum. Even the event's honorary chairwoman Camryn Manheim of "The Practice" wandered over to the windows to check out the surreal scene: a sleek private jet bathed in the light of a full moon with World War II fighter planes in the background.

"This is the final scene in 'Casablanca,' " muttered one seasoned cameraman.

We watched, spellbound, as the plane was loaded with luggage, then taxied at last to a remote area of the airstrip. Several minutes later it soared into the night. Happy honeymoon, kids, wherever you are.

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