Showbiz crowd descends on Minneapolis

GOOD MORNING from the Mall of America, just outside Minneapolis — the largest mall in the country, maybe in the world — where Sunday night, Hollywood descended. To be exact, Planet Hollywood landed. The latest in the eatery chain took its place on the highest floor of this incredible shopping-food-entertainment center. Its arrival — and the arrival of the contingent of Hollywood stars — was reason enough for Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and his wife, Susan, to open the governor’s mansion Saturday night for a reception in honor of the showbiz bunch. The governor told me he’ll be in Hollywood next month to meet with Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal to pitch for more movie shoots in his beautiful state. Also at the reception for the showbiz troupe were Minnesota Film Board exec director Randy Adamsick and director of production Kelly Pratt plus members of the film board — very anxious to see Hollywood here. The governor declared the week “Planet Hollywood Week,” calling the restaurant “one of the most exciting and important developments of the industry” and thanking it for both the “cultural and economic” additions to the city/state. Producer Keith Barish, who partners with Robert Earl in heading the eatery chain, said the group was indeed proud to be welcomed by the governor, since London sent only the Lord Mayor for the bow of the Planet Hollywood in England … Hollywood movie companies brought $ 20 million into the state of Minnesota last year. They included “Grumpy Old Men.” The film board boasts being able to represent three seasons in the environs. The big thorn in their side is Toronto, the board reps told me — due to the favorable exchange rate … They claim to have a bigger acting pool to hire than even Chicago. Among the many fine theaters and schools here, of course , is the Guthrie … The mansion of the governor, like the stately homes along its street, are glistening with the holiday lights reflected on the snow covering the lawns in front and in back. The snow is from a Thanksgiving storm; however, the weather — approaching a –10-degree windchill factor, keeps the white blankets on all unplowed areas and along the edges of the street and highways. The many beautiful lakes — in the heart of the city — have begun to don their coats of ice and it’s thick enough in many places for skaters to decorate the picture postcard landscape. Believe me, this is some change for the gang from Southern California.

HIGH ATOP THE MALL OF AMERICA, on its fourth level, sits the Planet of Hollywood. It’s next to the General Cinema’s 14-plex theaters in the restaurant area. A railing overlooking the entire mall was removed and a platform built out (overnight Saturday) for the arriving stars to be introduced by yours truly to the fans who filled every corner of the mall spaces on the floor below. They even watched from the rides going by in Knott’s Camp Snoopy — the Log Chute, Screaming Yellow Eagle and Carousel. The mall’s many stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Sears, poured out fans to see the celebs arriving — and for Bruce Willis and his band to later entertain as he had delighted tens of thousands (literally) earlier this year in Washington, Chicago and London. This has been some busy year for Willis — he segued from the thriller “Color of Night” to the comedy “North” to the drama “Pulp Fiction,” and now “Nobody’s Fool” with Melanie Griffith and Paul Newman. And next — maybe “Shadow War” ahead of “Die Hard 3.”… Before the Planet Hollywood restaurant premiere Sunday night, the eatery’s now-famous store bowed on Saturday. Don Johnson and Matthew Modine took a turn selling items to the fans who had waited for hours to get a glimpse of Hollywood. On Friday, Arnold Schwarzenegger delighted fans by going out into the main mall and taking a ride on the flume in Camp Snoopy. The main community of Hollywood cannot appreciate the power of stardom until they see the fan adulation in cities like this … Schwarzenegger had flown in from the Florida Keys location of “True Lies.” Since he had to work on Sunday, he winged in for the pre-opening on Friday to boost publicity for the place. He got it.

SYLVESTER STALLONE, another of the major partners in the Planets, arrived with girlfriend Jennifer Flavin. Among the movie memorabilia displayed in the Minneapolis Planet is the “frozen” nude body of Stallone from “Demolition Man.” Yes — nude … Joining up was “Demolition” co-star Wesley Snipes, a big favorite. Stars on hand included Danny Glover, Donny Osmond, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi, Luke Perry, Jim Belushi, Dan Cortese, heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg, whose “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” was playing in the mall multiplex next door to Planet Hollywood. As a gag, Arnold Schwarzenegger and William Morris’ Arnold Rifkin (who represents Bruce Willis) posed signing a big stack of papers (fake contracts) and sent the picture to — Lou Pitt, Schwarzenegger’s ICM agent. It’s only a joke, Lou!

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