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‘Air’ crew takes flight to a Hard Rock place

Prison buses, helicopters, armed agents from an assortment of law enforcement groups and a police escort greeted “Con Air” preemgoers Monday at Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport as they exited from two charted planes from L.A.

Touchstone Pictures took close to 600 guests through the prison paces at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, touched up with a mix of red carpet and federal pen. One minute the landscape was flashbulbs and screaming fans, a few more feet and it was metal detectors and barbed wire.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer opened the evening with a few thank-you’s at the screening, held in the Hard Rock’s nightclub, the Joint. The showroom-cum-theater featured a jail cell foyer and a screening room rowed with airplane seats. (Everywhere you went somebody was giving you a bag of “Con Air” peanuts.)

The post-screening party was held in a tent recalling old-school Vegas —the word “Horseshoe” in neon on one wall, clovers on another and San Francisco lounge act Buddy Love playing everything from Lou Rawls to Led Zeppelin. The Hard Rock handled the catering.

“Con Air” stars in attendance included Nicolas Cage, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Colm Meaney, Mykelti Williamson, Rachel Ticotin, Dave Chappelle, M. C. Gainey and Danny Trejo plus director Simon West, exec producers Chad Oman, Jonathan Hensleigh, Peter Bogart, Jim Kouf and Lynn Bigelow, and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg.

Execs making the hourlong flight included Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group chairman Dick Cook, Touchstone Pictures president Donald De Line, senior VP of marketing Geoffrey Ammer and Touchstone production exec Todd Garner. Among the well-wishers on hand were Jon Lovitz, Pauly Shore, John Stamos, Penn Jillette and Joely Fisher.

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