T ear - jerker has been the word on the street about Hollywood Pictures’ new release, “The Joy Luck Club,” based on Amy Tan’s 1989 best-selling novel. Apparently the studio agrees, because Disney employees were handing out complimentary packages of Kleenex at Saturday night’s invitational screening in Westwood.
The evening’s major glitch occurred when Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford made their entrance at the after-party at the Armand Hammer Museum. Photographers stationed on the sidewalk rushed the front door and galloped up the stairs after the couple, flashing and filming the whole way, as security forces raced after them. “Get them out of here,” Gere said through gritted teeth. The situation was finally brought under control.
The screening was hosted by actress Annette Bening, who was reportedly so moved by the film that she organized the event and invited many of the guests. Bening (who arrived without husband Warren Beatty) was camera-shy and took a powder early, but guests stayed to chat in the museum’s open-air atrium with director Wayne Wang, executive producers Oliver Stone and Janet Yang, and cast members Kieu Chinh, Tamlyn Tomita, Tsai Chin, Lauren Tom, France Nuyen, Rosalind Chao, Lisa Lu and Vivian Wu.
“The Joy Luck Club” is an expansive saga about Chinese families, an ethnic group that’s never been proportionately represented in Hollywood films. Does the high-profile launch of “Joy Luck” signify a turning point?
“Only if this one makes money,” said Wang. “I’m cynical about these things. But this story’s universal; it’s not just about the Chinese.”
Stone concurred. “Everyone turned it down except Disney.” Why? “The Asian subject matter for one, and the lack of starring roles. Look, it’s a tough business. But America’s becoming more richly colored, and the film industry’s starting to reflect that.”
“I’m sure the success of the book will help a lot,” said Yang. “But it’s also got to reach people who haven’t read the book.
Did she cry? “Oh sure,” she said. “I always think I won’t but I do anyway.”
A small but prestigious list of guests, including Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, Anne Archer, Robert Blake, Christine Lahti, Diane Baker, Michael Lerner, Brenda Vaccaro and Tippi Hedren stayed to enjoy a buffet that included risotto, penne, Caesar salad and eggplant with garlic. “It’s not quite Chinese,” said one woman balancing a brownie on her plate. “But it’s good anyway.”