Disney pulled out all the stops Saturday night to stage a premiere at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium that “Evita’s” eponymous heroine would have adored: stands packed with screaming fans, a crush of tuxedos and evening gowns, klieg lights that could be seen from miles around, even skies blown clear by Santa Ana winds, erasing all memory of the preceding week’s rain.
Gilding the event were the pic’s stars: Madonna, escorted by Carlos Leon, and Antonio Banderas, with wife Melanie Griffith and mother-in-law Tippi Hedren. Helmer Alan Parker and producer Andy Vajna were there, as well as a contingent of Disney execs including Joe Roth, Dick Cook and Rob Moore.
Inside the Shrine, 4,200 preemgoers waiting for the pic to begin could watch a video feed of arriving celebs such as James Woods, Glenn Close and “Evita” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Jennifer Tilly elicited the biggest laugh of the pre-show when she explained that women who didn’t follow the invitation’s black-tie instructions were iconoclasts, while men who ignored the directive were just boobs.
Perhaps mindful of Tilly’s words, few invitees dared flout the dress code at the party for 1,300 that followed the much-lauded screening. The hall next to the auditorium was done up as a ’40s-style Buenos Aires club, complete with a lavish dinner spread from La Cuisine, the Ritmo tango dancers and the Sounds of Argentina orchestra. Not many guests were willing to try the complicated Latin dance steps; most found table-hopping more to their liking, including Gabriel Byrne, Marisa Tomei, Alicia Witt, Diane Lane, Grace Jones, David Hasselhoff, Richard Lovett, Ed Limato and Jack Rapke.