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My 'Dinner' With Rita--and Tom and Mel and . . .

October 06, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

When celebrities join the rest of us in a theater to watch other performers, they seem, well, almost mortal. There were plenty of famous faces onstage and off for Wednesday's L.A. premiere of "Dinner With Friends" the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Donald Margulies starring Dana Delany, Kevin Kilner, Daniel Stern and Rita Wilson.

Wilson's proud hubby, Tom Hanks, was nervous for his wife, he said, as he played with a silver pocket watch in the lobby of the Geffen Playhouse before the show. The previews went well, he said, but "it will be a totally different dynamic tonight."

Hanks didn't even recognize a newly shorn Mel Gibson in the seat behind him. "It could be head lice," Gibson joked about his crew cut during intermission. "Well . . . I guess not in this day and age." Gibson said his new 'do was actually "a brief attempt at anonymity." Sorry Mel, not with those baby blues. Christian Slater, Camryn Manheim, Jacqueline Bisset, Quincy Jones and Glenne Headly also turned out to support the cast.

"Dinner With Friends" dissects the institution of marriage, using two couples as specimens. Gabe and Karen (Stern and Wilson) are food writers who, like their best friends Tom and Beth (Kilner and Delany), have reached the point in their relationship where mortgages, children and carpools have overtaken romance. Still, their lives seem idyllic until the philandering Tom suddenly asks for a divorce and the reverberations rock both households.

Kilner, who has been married to actress Jordan Baker ("Hiller and Diller") for two years said he's surprised by how strongly the audience reacts to his home-wrecking character. "I've heard the audience, especially women, talking to the stage and saying things like 'Oh please!' or 'What a jerk!' It reminds me of Greek theater," he said at the after-party in the bucolic courtyard outside the theater. "But my feeling is, when you have people talking out loud to you onstage, you must be doing your job right."

For Delany, who played Karen in the Broadway production and plays Beth here, switching roles felt "schizophrenic." Her boyfriend Christian Navarro, a partner in Wally's Wine and Spirits in Westwood, has seen the play six times, she said, and "he's sick of it. It bleeds over into your personal life . . . as you can imagine. As Karen, I was judgmental all the time, and now as Beth, I'm crying all the time!"

Radiant in a brown matte jersey dress and fabulous black Christian Dior sandals that cast a spider web pattern on her feet, Wilson said audience members' reactions to the play seem to depend on what kind of relationship they are in. "There's a Rorschach test about it," she said. For her, it's positive. Then again, she seems to have one of the better marriages in Hollywood. So there you go.


In the L.A. area, West Hollywood isn't the only place for men to meet other men, according to the October issue of Out magazine. The mag lists the struggling actor's Stairmaster, a.k.a. the Santa Monica Pier steps, as a place "where rich men meet cute boys." It also touts Home Depot in Hollywood and Will Rogers State Beach.

Now, where do cute guys go to meet rich men? According to Out, the Mondrian hotel pool, star-studded AmFar events and the jogger-friendly sidewalks of Hancock Park, especially on Sunday mornings.

Happy hunting.

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