The Party Mood Was Contagious


The Scene: A crunch of limos and paparazzi clotted Westwood Village on Monday night for the premiere of "Outbreak," an "Andromeda Strain"-style action/adventure/love story. At the screening, it was "like Southwest Airlines," as one audience member put it. The SRO crowd hustled for seats in the areas not reserved for the film's principals and their entourages. Afterward, there was a party to end all parties--or nearly so--at the venerable Chasen's restaurant, since it is due to close April 2.

Who Was There: About 850 people showed at the screening and about 500 made it to the party. VIP guests included the film's cast, Dustin Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey and Patrick Dempsey. Also on hand were director Wolfgang Petersen, producers Arnold Kopelson and Gail Katz, plus Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone, Teri Garr, Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Carole Bayer Sager, Dolly Parton, Christy Turlington, Toni Braxton, and Marvin and Barbara Davis.

Dress Code: Black tie and evening gowns dominated. There wasn't a backward baseball cap or a pair of stone-washed jeans in sight.

Chow: With its days in the restaurant biz numbered, Chasen's pulled out all the stops, serving up a buffet of its famous chili and specialty of the house chicken pot pie as well as grilled salmon, vegetarian lasagna, fried chicken, roasted potatoes and salads. A dessert buffet on the back patio tempted diners with orange, raspberry and lime sorbet, mocha torte, banana cream cake and other apres-film treats.

Overheard: Referring to the film's apocalyptic theme of a deadly, fast-acting virus that spreads as easily as the flu, one guest in the buffet line remarked, "After seeing a movie like this, you kinda don't want to eat something that somebody else has touched."

The Critics Are Unanimous: The experts were on hand to weigh in on the movie's helicopter chase sequence. "I said, 'Oh, my God, those old chopper days are back again," said action-adventure veteran Stallone, schmoozing with Connery, the granddaddy of mechanized pursuit. "It's exhilarating. And they did it right," the erstwhile 007 agreed. "It brought a tear to my eye."

What Next? "We get together and live happily ever after," said leading woman Russo of some unresolved plot points. Leading man Hoffman thought otherwise. "Actually, we get together, and we pray that the first weekend's grosses will be enough so that the studio doesn't reduce the numbers of theaters for the second week," he said.

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