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City of Angles

July 19, 2002|GINA PICCALO AND LOUISE ROUG

Benjamin Ford, son of Harrison, is sitting in a corner at his restaurant, Chadwick, in Beverly Hills. He's recuperating with a glass of white wine after attending the previous night's premiere party for his father's latest movie, "K-19: The Widowmaker."

On this night, Ford, 36, is host of a party for another Hollywood offspring: Alison Eastwood, daughter of Clint, who is launching a clothing line. The evening's theme: "Denim, Tapas and Tequila." It's a long way from Chadwick's usual fare: California cuisine in Craftsman-style surroundings. (The restaurant is named after Alice Waters' mentor, organic gardening guru Alan Chadwick.)

In a few moments, celebrities and photographers will swarm the small restaurant on Beverly Drive, and Ford--one of the few not in western gear (he's wearing his chef's jacket with his name embroidered in blue)--is taking a moment before the party begins.

He rarely uses his restaurant for publicity parties because he doesn't want to alienate his regular customers or the neighbors, he says. And he would rather cook than play Hollywood host.

"I'd like this to be a Brooks Brothers kind of restaurant," he jokes about Chadwick.

A publicist tugs at his sleeve, and he peels off for more interviews on the red carpet outside the restaurant.

The evening's western motif is completed by the arrival of the iconic celluloid gunslinger--Clint. Within minutes, he's surrounded by gushing women. "This is fun," he says about the party, and his daughter's new fashion venture. The shirt he's wearing, a sand-colored number with a bolo tie, is from his daughter's line, Eastwood Ranch, he says. The rest is just Eastwood.

He looks at guests in skimpy country-western gear around him. "It never seems to go out of style," he says.

Ford and Clint Eastwood are introduced, and pose for photos in the kitchen. Eastwood joins his daughter, and his son, Kyle, for a family get-together on the back patio where jeans on a clothesline provide the decoration above the bar.

Meanwhile, Ford has another interview in the kitchen, and as an "Entertainment Tonight" cameraman shoots B-roll of the chef, another crew member polishes off an entire tray of filet mignon appetizers.

As the evening draws to a close, Ford and his guests convene in the kitchen. An apprentice is flipping cheese sandwiches on a skillet.

In the main dining room, a Beverly Hills police officer makes his rounds. "It's better than what I get at home--that's usually jelly and peanut butter sandwiches," he says, as he finishes the remaining tapas.

'Round the Block Fun

There was hardly room inside the posh Rodeo Drive boutique for a lady to sip from her mini-bottle of Piper-Heidsieck champagne. Well-heeled managers of the exclusive shopping district's designer stores avoided the passed hors d'oeuvres, presumably to keep from tarnishing a $4,500 sequined gown with the remnants of a pate tarte.

The store owners and designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka stood stiffly near the jeweled handbags, greeting select guests with a quick handshake. "Ciao bella!" shouted a man near the door to Italian American actress Jo Champa. Her sundress fluttered as she glided through the crowd. When a guest asked her about traveling in the Italian province of Calabria, Champa described entire villages moved to cook feasts for her and her husband, movie market researcher Joseph Farrell. "In Italy, I'm a celebrity," she explained. While models compared their Badgley-Mischka gowns at the door, a tall gentleman in a beige suit and sunglasses attempted to crash the party. "It's a private party, sir," said a man monitoring the guest list. "So you're telling me I can't come in?" the crasher asked, peering inside and moving closer. "I'm sorry, sir."

This is how Beverly Hills celebrates the unveiling of plans for its biannual $1,000-per-ticket block party known as the "Tribute to Style," which has raised $3 million since its inception in 1996. This year, the event is set for Sept. 23, the day after the Emmy Awards. It's sponsored by Jaguar and benefits the Entertainment Industry Foundation's National Arts Education Initiative. Champa, event co-chairwoman, is credited with bringing to the gala famous Italians--designer Roberto Cavalli and tenor Andrea Bocelli among them. "This one is a big fashion hound," said co-Chairwoman Susan Dolgen, pointing to Champa. "She knows how to talk it up."

Quote/Unquote

"I'm angry. I'm sad. It's a very difficult and sad time. Sometimes, you don't see things coming even though they are happening. It was a real deep connection, a deep marriage, so it's not that simple to say this or that one thing caused the problems. It's clear to me that our priorities shifted overnight." --Angelina Jolie to Us Weekly on living apart from her husband, Billy Bob Thornton.

City of Angles runs Tuesday and Friday. Send e-mail to angles@ latimes.com.

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