Tuesday, May 22, 2001

The USS John C. Stennis is silhouetted by a fireworks show that
served as the finale to the premiere of the movie
"Pearl Harbor" last night.

All hands on deck
for ‘Pearl Harbor’

Stars and other notables come out
in full force to participate in Disney's
$5 million bash for the premiere
of the World War II film

'Pearl Harbor' impressive

By Tim Ryan and
Gregg K. Kakesako

PEARL HARBOR was attacked again last night, but with decidedly friendly fire as some of Hollywood's elite, Hawaii's movers and shakers, and top military brass celebrated the world premiere of the megabucks film "Pearl Harbor."

In a night mixing dignity and respect for those who died and those who survived at Pearl Harbor in the Japanese attack Dec. 7, 1941, and Hollywood flair for tasteful excess, 2,000 guests, including more than 500 news media from around the world, enjoyed the most expensive party in Hawaii history at a state-of-the-art outdoor theater on the deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Stennis.

The party is estimated to have cost Disney $5 million, including extensive pupus, soft drinks and mineral water on the 4.5-acre flight deck, then fireworks following the three-hour film on the hangar deck, which had been turned into a 1940s-era nightclub.

Bleachers on the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis,
with a view of the Stennis' control tower "island," made
for a unique theater at last night's premiere.

"This is fantastic, unbelievable," said Tom Moffatt, Hawaii concert promoter. "I have never seen anything like this in Hawaii. Tomorrow morning, the world will wake up with news and pictures of our state."

There were several demonstrations, a flyby of World War II and Korean War aircraft and Army Blackhawk helicopters. Bands from all the military services performed on the Hotel Pier as well as on the flight deck of the Stennis. None of the Stennis' F-18 Hornets or F-14 Tomcat jet fighters made the trip to Hawaii for the premiere. Instead on the flight deck were one WWII P-40 Flying Tiger and a B-25 Mitchell bomber.

With a backdrop of a fiery pink sunset and the Arizona Memorial basking in the light clearly visible behind the 125-foot-wide, four-story-high movie screen, Grammy Award winner Faith Hill, who sings the theme song to "Pearl Harbor," sang the "Star-Spangled Banner."

When she sang the words "rockets' red glare," there was a brief display of red fireworks.

Cuba Gooding, Jr., left, talks with Pearl Harbor survivor
Clark Simmons at yesterday's premiere. Simmons went
through boot camp with Dorie Miller, the character
played by Gooding.

"Pearl Harbor" director Michael Bay briefly spoke to the audience sitting in 75 rows of bleachers, reminding them of the sacrifice the military endured in the Japanese attack and saying it is his hope that the film captures that heroic spirit.

Rear Adm. Jim Robb, USS Stennis battle group commander, said: "It's a good thing what's being done today. It's good to be honoring the survivors."

Peggy Swan Dye, 87, who was a nurse on duty during the attack, said she appreciated what the movie producers were doing. "When you are working in a hospital, you expect to be able to cope with tragedies. We did what we had to do, and we were trained to do it."

Virtually every military commander in Hawaii attended the event, as did Gov. Cayetano, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Actor Alec Baldwin lifts Judy Thrailkill, a sailor's wife from
the USS John C. Stennis, as he arrives for the premiere.

The film's stars also attended the premiere: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin, Tom Sizemore, Cuba Gooding Jr., Dan Aykroyd and Kauai resident Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay were also there.

Guests, including former Defense Secretary William Cohen and singer Courtney Love, began arriving at 5 p.m. for the showing.

After walking down the 850-foot red carpet, visitors climbed a series of stairs to the flight deck, where buckets designed with Pearl Harbor pictures and filled with popcorn were passed out. More than 5,000 buckets were prepared for the night's event.

Visitors wandered around the deck to various buffet tables tasting a variety of exotic cheeses, salsa and guacamole dips, vegetables and fruits, including plump raspberries from California, and breads, crackers and pretzels.

On the flight deck of the USS Stennis, bleachers with red curtains
bear a poster for the 2001 premiere of "Pearl Harbor" while sailors
stroll among amenity tents set up for the occasion.

Actor Elizabeth Lindsey and husband John W.A. "Doc" Buyers, chairman of C. Brewer & Co., arrived from New York just a few hours before the premiere.

"This is so wonderful for Hawaii, the exposure and the pride to have an event like this here," Lindsey said. "But it's such a great reminder to all of us, the sacrifice that people made for our country."

Buyers said the publicity generated by the event in Hawaii will improve the state's image as a place to do business and should boost the film industry here.

This was Abercrombie's second major premiere after seeing "Bulworth" in Washington, D.C., with Warren Beatty.

"This is a great event for the Navy and Hawaii," Abercrombie said. "I think the state will see a tremendous increase in visitors to the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri."

Harris echoed Abercrombie's sentiments, saying Hawaii's history, "which in this case is the world's history," needs always to be remembered.

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