The Scene: The premiere of New Visions Pictures’ and Miramax Films’ “The Long Walk Home” at Century City’s Cineplex Odeon, followed by a party at the nearby Twenty/20 club. Approximately $15,000 was raised Tuesday for the United Negro College Fund.
Who Was There: The special guest was 77-year-old Rosa Parks, the “Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement,” who, by refusing to give up her seat to a white man, triggered the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that is the film’s setting. Also there were the film’s stars, Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek; director, Richard Pearce; producers, Howard Koch Jr. and Dave Bell, and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, plus 700 guests, including Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi, Laura Dern, Lou Gossett Jr., Anthony Quinn, Suzanne de Passe, Magic Johnson and Marla Gibbs.
Triumphs: That Rosa Parks came out for the opening. “They invited me and I felt something about Montgomery would be worthwhile to see,” said Parks. “It’s a great movie. It opens up what we have endured and what went on.”
Tribute: The guest of honor walked right by the cameras at one point and shyly avoided the limelight. “I mean, they couldn’t get her off a bus,” said one publicist. “She’s going to do what she wants to do.”
Quoted: “It’s sobering that we still have so far to go,” said Spacek, who plays a well-off white woman who becomes a supporter of the movement through her black maid. “We’re still pained by things we felt 35 years ago. Dr. King’s dream has still not been realized.”
Also Quoted: “Thing have changed somewhat,” said Goldberg. “I’m here, I came in the front door, I arrived in a limousine. So things have changed a bit. It’s not where it should be, but it’s not where it was. So it’s getting better, but it’s slow.”
Whoopi’s Career Plans: “I don’t care if it’s comedy or drama, I’m just glad to be working,” said Goldberg. “I’ll go anywhere someone offers me a check that won’t bounce.”
The Buzz: Guests thought the film will inevitably be compared to “Driving Miss Daisy,” although this story is told much more from a black perspective. Of the experience of filming in Alabama, producer Bell said: “The people in Montgomery were very cooperative. Some were suspicious, but if you’ve ever dealt with a movie company, you have reason to be suspicious.”