It was billed as "The World Comes to Rodeo Drive," and the name was apt as the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research and Concern II linked up with festivities for World Cup USA '94 to stage their annual fund-raising block party Sunday night in the internationally famous shopping mecca.
Soccer balls blockaded the ends of Rodeo Drive as the well-dressed and the scantily clad wandered amid an array of entertainers sporting costumes representing many of the 24 countries whose teams qualified for the tournament.
Heads turned each time a ponytail, a goatee or dreadlocks were spotted in the crowd, but these were merely Baggio, Lalas or Larsson wanna-bes, not the real stars of the game.
Food booths served everything anyone might or might not want to eat from the cuisine of the participating nations--from herring salad to vegetable risotto to hot dogs and popcorn. Celebrities including Hal Linden, Mr. Blackwell, Costas Mandylor, Michelle Phillips, Michael Lerner, Max Cassella and Tommy Lasorda took turns tending bar, some clearly more adept than others.
The co-chairmen of the evening, Mitchell Feinstein and David Schaeffer, expected to raise more than $1 million to fund continued research in cancer immunology. The advance sales numbered 2,800 with tickets going for $300 each, and another $65,000 was raised through walk-up business. Inevitably, although the good cause of the night was not forgotten, much of the talk was about soccer.
Joanna Pacula, strolling the boulevard with Count Giovanni Volpi and Armani executive Wanda McDaniel, admitted that she knew little of the contest but was pleased to hear for her companions' sake that "Italy is still in it," because Armani had designed the Italian team's off-field uniforms.
Bernie Kopell said he is a "tennis and boxing fan. I tried playing soccer once. I thought I was fairly fit, but I nearly died. The action never stops."
That nonstop action is what appeals to one enthusiast, Zachery Ty Bryan. "I love that nonstop 90 minutes without timeouts. I play the game all I can and I'd love to be able to go on to play professionally," said the 12-year-old actor, hopeful the impact of this World Cup will push soccer to major-league status in this country by the time he's grown up.