'Pearl Harbor' stars stir movie stew on aircraft carrier
||TV brings 'Pearl Harbor' up close and personal|
|||Advertiser special: The Pearl Harbor story|
It may be a Navy warship, but the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is looking more and more like a party boat.
On the flight deck, where fighter jets are launched into the sky, the Stennis now looks more like an outdoor concert venue. The movie screen and stage, where the film will be shown to 2,000 A-list invited guests, stands nearly six stories tall and about 100 feet wide. Workers yesterday climbed all over the rigging as they hooked up lights, tested the surround-sound stereo system and set up the projection booth.
But yesterday also was a day for Disney to show off the movie's stars to many of the 500 journalists who have invaded Pearl Harbor for the premiere festivities. They wanted to know how the film was researched and how much money it would have to make to break even, among other things.
The media came from all over the United States, Canada and Europe and were feted at a press tent to unlimited free food, from Denver omelets to hot dogs to bottled water by the case. And that was just breakfast.
Even the portable restrooms were over the top: air conditioned, piped-in music and throw rugs on a wooden floor.
The interview schedule, as well as tours of the ship, ran with near military precision. Disney Gen X and Gen Y staffers buzzed around the press area with two-way headset communication systems to keep it all moving along.
"We're running behind, but don't worry, we haven't forgotten you," one staffer told a wire service reporter. "But what's your name?"
The Stennis sailors watched the preparations with wide-eyed amazement and a sense of humor. In-house e-mail traffic now includes a picture of the carrier wearing a giant set of Mickey Mouse ears.
The aircraft that normally travel with the San Diego-based Stennis did not come on this trip, but a pair of vintage planes a B-25 bomber dubbed Photo Fanny and a P-40 fighter are being displayed on the deck with special spotlights for the premiere party. Also on view was a brand new Navy Super Hornet F/A-18F jet.
Television journalists used the planes as a backdrops while behind them workers unloaded two dozen thick rolls of new red carpet, wooden palettes stacked with wine (pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon) and Costco-sized bags of potato chips.
The film's stars moved like demigods, their images displayed on giant posters to remind everyone present of their status.
Lead actor Ben Affleck finished a cigarette as he headed for a broadcast interview and several pats of makeup. Two Navy escorts hustled to keep up, and an entourage of 20 people followed them both.
But not everyone was impressed. At the back of the entourage came this comment: "Did you hear? He's not giving out any autographs."
On the other hand, not every star stood out. Josh Hartnett ambled through the press tent nearly unnoticed as he chewed a Popsicle stick and checked out the "Pearl Harbor" Web site.
One member of the Stennis crew, who said he would be playing escort on premiere night to arriving VIPs, said that the whole extravaganza had proven to be a big morale booster to most of the sailors.
"This is one of the things we rarely get to see here," said Seaman Bradley Boyd, as he scanned the span of the stage and outdoor theater. "You can never forget something like this."
"I even got to talk to Josh for 15 minutes about getting started in the movie business."