It’s not often the composer is the star of a film premiere, but such was the case Saturday when John Williams conducted a 100-piece orchestra as the 20th anniversary version of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” played above him at the Shrine.
The preem showcased how a liberal application of two key entertainment industry elements — money and talent — can make for an extraordinary, only-in-Hollywood event.
“I kept wondering, ‘Why did I deny myself this pleasure 20 years ago?’ ” was helmer Steven Spielberg’s comment to Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver at the after-party.
The Special Olympics, which Spielberg has been supporting since its inception, raised $200,000 from the preem. The director mentioned to Shriver what a comfortable fit there was between this particular film and the charity. He then alluded to her famous son-in-law by saying: “The one thing I have up on Arnold is you couldn’t do this with ‘Predator.’ ”
When asked what impressed him most about the screening, Spielberg said: “The consistency and quality of the performance. It was like a 97-minute concert piece and they didn’t miss a single cue.”
Williams compared the experience to conducting opera or ballet, but what made this more difficult, he said, is “film is unrelenting in its mathematical precision.”
“If a cue is at 17.2 seconds and you arrive at 17.6, the moment doesn’t wait for you,” said the composer. “While in a ballet, the dancer may take a breath and wait. It’s the mechanical aspects of film set against the human aspect of music.”
Among those making up the preem’s human aspect were U’s Ron Meyer, Stacey Snider and Marc Shmuger; producer Kathleen Kennedy, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, production supervisor Frank Marshall; stars Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace Stone, Peter Coyote and Drew Barrymore; plus guests Will Smith, Sid Sheinberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger with Maria Shriver, Jean Firstenberg, Bruce Cohen and Ethan Hawke.