Back, Back, Back to the Old West

The Scene: The benefit world premiere of Universal’s “Back to the Future Part III” Monday at the Universal City Cineplex Odeon. Afterward, studio-tour trams took 1,600 guests to an absolutely-only-in-Tinseltown extravaganza on the studio’s Old West back lot.

Who Was There: The Hollywood posse included director Bob Zemeckis, executive producer Steven Spielberg, co-stars Mary Steenburgen and Christopher Lloyd, Goldie Hawn with Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger with Maria Shriver, agents Mike Ovitz and Lou Pitt, producers Al Ruddy and Mark Johnson, and Universal president Tom Pollock. The film’s star, Michael J. Fox, was filming “The Hard Way” in New York and could not attend.

The Buzz: “Future III” is better than II. “Future I” was made so long ago the only thing people remember about it is it made lots of money.

Money Matters: The evening raised $300,000 for the Westside Children’s Center. Universal underwrote the cost of the party designed by Party Planners West and chaired by Mary Ellen Zemeckis and Lorraine Sheinberg. Financial sub text: While discussing the cost of any party with the host is awkward, a ballpark figure on a major league premiere like this would be between $250,000 and $300,000.


Dress Mode: The invite said Western Casual and most guests wore blue jeans and boots. Some wore Armani and Versace, perhaps thinking the hosts meant spaghetti Westerns.

The Chow: Nouvelle Old West cuisine--Tex-Mex fajitas , barbecue chicken and chili washed down with margaritas.

Quoted: “Maybe they’re trying to bribe us to do a fourth one,” said Spielberg about the lavish party. “It’s up to Bob to decide.” Said Bob Zemeckis: “I hope the audience wants more ‘Back to the Futures,’ but I’m through doing them.”

Arnold’s Law: Schwarzenegger, that is--"Never trust a studio when they say this is the last one.”

Glitches: Giving out coupons for a free drink and popcorn wasn’t such a great idea. A massive line at the snack counter held up the screening for 35 minutes.

Triumphs: This party had the logistics of the invasion of Normandy. Guests arrived by tram to be greeted by a miniature rodeo, Indians in canoes, scores of Old West character actors, Western dance bands, casino games, “Back to the Future” pinball machines, carnival games, free Polaroid photos, a lightning generating machine, pigs, goats, horses and movie stars.