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BAFTA/LA party’s a Garden of eatin’

Org chair Dartnall calls evening 'most successful' ever

HOLLYWOOD — With a rousing hip-hip-hooray, Ronald Neame, the irrepressible director-producer of “The Poseidon Adventure,” led a record 450 guests in a rousing cheer to honor the founders of BAFTA/LA during the expat Brits annual Garden Party at the British consulate.

Neame, an energetic and witty 92, praised the work of the three founders, Marion Rosenberg, Peter Beale and Michael Oliver, who used to hold meetings in their own living rooms and are still active in the association, which now boasts 1,000 members.

“It would have been gold watches, but we can’t afford them, so it’s scrolls,” Neame quipped in presenting the honorees with their gifts. Neame told Daily Variety he had proudly watched the org grow from its humble beginnings — not only the L.A. offshoot but the original BAFTA in London that he co-founded back in1949.

In true British fashion, guests queued politely for martinis and munchies and otherwise mixed and mingled in the summery garden of the British Consul-General Peter Hunt and his wife, Ann, in Hancock Park.

“Unlike some parties around town, it pulls together a group of folks who actually enjoy seeing one another,” quipped one longtime attendee of the soiree.

VIPs who graced the lawn included Malcolm McDowell, Peter Mullan and Stephen Frears, Michael York and Elizabeth McGovern.

BAFTA/LA chairman Gary Dartnall declared the evening “the most successful garden party ever — and everyone seemed to be having a really terrific time.”

A raffle to raise money for the org’s charitable and scholarship endeavors included a top prize of two business class tickets to London and three nights at one of the swank Savoy hotels.

Dartnall said the items on offer were fewer in number but higher in quality. It was the first time British Airways came in as a sponsor of the event, and it was, they said, delighted to be involved.

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