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Hollywood does the hall

Plenty of star power but not enough ashtrays as 'Matrix Revolutions' receives its premiere at the futuristic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

October 29, 2003|Louise Roug | Times Staff Writer

Against an apocalyptic red sky, the moon a thin white sliver, Walt Disney Concert Hall, bathed in Matrix-green light, looked its part -- a Hollywood backdrop.

On Monday, the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic was overrun by agents, publicists with headsets and the cast of "The Matrix Revolutions," which premiered there. Everyone, not surprisingly, wore black.

Across the street from the entrance to the concert hall, several dozen fans pushed against the barricades, a high-pitched choir. They held up signs: "We love Keanu," "Keanu is excellent." He arrived early, catching at least one TV crew unprepared. "Their talent isn't even here yet," a "Matrix" staffer remarked, as Reeves was interviewed by a producer at the foot of a wide red carpet. Near the entrance, everyone was equal before five metal detectors -- even the Manohlos got a sweep with the hand-held scanners.

"It's a difficult building," said Ralph Pipes, head of security. "But it's beautiful."

"Until I walked into this building tonight, I was from New York," said Warner Bros. President Alan Horn. "Tonight, I am from L.A."

Not everyone was quite so reverential. A woman in a skimpy white dress stamped out a cigarette with her spiky-heeled shoes on the marble entrance. After about an hour, butts littered the floor. (Note to WDCH: Next time you invite movie people, put out some ashtrays.)

A few guests had already been to the gala concerts over the weekend. Jeremy Strick, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, had been there Thursday and was back with his wife and two children. Keith Mendenhall, a Gehry associate, waited for his tickets. No, he said, Frank wasn't coming.

Inside, waiters carried trays of Kermit-green drinks. "Like a Midori Sour, only sweet," said one, shaking his head. "Matrix Elixir or something like that."

After the movie -- yes, the acoustics were impressive for battle scenes and explosions -- guests gathered in the tent left over from the three-day inaugural celebration.

"Great movie," a guest remarked to a producing partner by the bar. "Can you explain it to me tomorrow?" A group of men in suits -- self-proclaimed buddies of Reeves -- were drinking melon-flavored shots. One raised a toast. "Here's to...." He paused, looked around and found inspiration: "Matrix 4!"

Nearby, Sharon Stone chatted with Reeves, gawkers and photographers surrounding them three people deep.

"The whole essence of tonight: what is and what we hope to be," said "Matrix" producer Joel Silver, sounding like a character in the movie. Silver was allowed to use the new hall because of his friendship with Gehry. "It was just good timing," he said, as Robert Downey Jr. tried to get his attention.

In the party tent, as a DJ played OutKast, Reeves lighted a cigarette. Soon, everyone in his entourage was smoking. A movie star perk, he said. His verdict on the concert hall: "Beautiful."

Cornel West held forth to Jada Pinkett Smith. Larry and Andy Wachowski, who created the "Matrix" series, received a steady stream of well-wishers.

Alex Rush, a "gloriously unemployed" 22-year-old from Britain, won a contest last week, "and now I'm in this posh tent," he said, surrounded by movie stars and paparazzi. "All this intensity of wealth and around the corner, all these people in boxes." And the building? It was, he said, quite possibly more impressive than "The Matrix."

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