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RSVP : A Hollywood Salute to a Good Soldier

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Resplendent in dress uniform, Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer stood tall and calm amid the push-and-shove Hollywood hoopla at the Monday night premiere of “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story,” in which she is portrayed by Glenn Close.

The biographical movie, which will air on NBC on Feb. 6, tells the story of Army officer Cammermeyer’s discharge in 1989, when she declared herself a lesbian, and her battle for reinstatement, now being appealed by the Army after a federal court ruled in her favor last year.

Before the screening, Cammermeyer addressed members and supporters of the two organizations benefiting from the event, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Despite the book, despite the movie, I’m still a private person,” she said, “but I feel my story transcends the individual experience to talk about people’s love of country and what they must do to preserve human dignity and civil rights.”

A standing ovation greeted Cammermeyer, the highest-ranking officer ever to be discharged from the U.S. military because of sexual orientation, and the audience showed equal enthusiasm for Barbra Streisand, one of the movie’s executive producers.

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“Excuse me for pushing, but it’s not often you get to see Barbra Streisand,” said one woman, as fans tried to hone in on photo opportunities.

At the very crowded post-screening reception, Cammermeyer bent her knees as Streisand stood beside her on tiptoe to try to match the Army nurse’s 6-foot frame. And she threw an amused sidelong glance when she found herself with Lypsinka garbed in a red bobbed wig and a copy of the famous see-through pantsuit Streisand wore when she won the Oscar for “Funny Girl.”

“I thought the movie was fantastic. I wanted to cry, but my eye-makeup would have run,” Lypsinka said.

“I think she’s a good soldier,” said Cammermeyer of Close, praising the performance and remarking that the actress “managed to capture my naive belief in the system and my continuing belief that justice will prevail.”

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Enthusiasm ran high for the movie, although some murmuring was heard wishing Close and her co-star Judy Davis had been seen to kiss earlier in the film and more than once. However, DianeDivelbess, Cammermeyer’s partner, said she felt flattered by the performance. Tom, 18, the youngest of Cammermeyer’s four sons, said the movie, “was better than I thought it would be.”

“We’re all human. We all need love,” said Streisand, noting that the film expands the concept of family.

Present at the event were Streisand’s former husband, Elliott Gould, and their son, Jason, as well as her longtime friend Richard Baskin; Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry of the NBC sitcom “Friends”; Jon Voight, Brenda Vaccaro, Liza Minnelli, NBC’s production veep Lindy DeCoven, and the movie’s co-executive producers Neil Meron, Cis Corman and Craig Zadan.

“Thank God for Barbra and Glenn” said Zadan. “We hear so much about the bad aspects of star power, but getting this movie made is a perfect example of how star power can be a force for good.”

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