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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Post-hoopla: Celebs, patriotism reign

 • 'Pearl Harbor' premiere brings Hollywood to Hawai'i
 •  Gala guests love 'Pearl Harbor'
 •  For a real wartime-in-Hawai'i experience, try a 'didyaknow' tour
 •  Advertiser special: Pearl Harbor — Major Movie, Real Memories
 •  See KHON-TV's Kirk Matthews reporting on the Pearl Harbor story. QuickTime is required.
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part I (2.4 Mb)
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part II (1.9 Mb)
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part III (2.5 Mb)
 • Pearl Harbor: Hollywood & History— Part IV (2.2 Mb)

By Derek Paiva and Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writers

Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Fiske plays taps during one of the "chicken-skin" moments of last night's premiere of the movie "Pearl Harbor."

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Disney's gala $5 million world premiere of "Pearl Harbor" ended last night with applause, standing ovations for attack survivors and a fireworks show that cost somewhere in the six figures — all done Hollywood-style.

The evening had started off about 5 p.m. with red-carpet arrivals, decked in what Disney called "Aloha crisp." Sort of. While most of the civilian guests lucky enough to snag invites to the party of the year followed Disney's dressy edict, celebrities followed their own fashion beat, sporting Prada and Gucci and wearing the restricted open-toed shoes.

Actor Tom Sizemore, clad in Gucci, said of the "Aloha crisp" dress code, "I don't know what it is and I'm not wearing it."

Actor Dan Aykroyd, who plays Capt. Thurman, politely took questions from media and posed patiently for photos. Dressed in a dark suit with two silk lei and a crewcut, Aykroyd, who had seen the film, said his eyes wouldn't always remain on the screen.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what the survivors and the nurses who were there that morning think about the film," he said. "They're the real stars of this show. Their reaction is what I really want to gauge."

That sentiment was shared by co-star and leading man Ben Affleck, who has often stated his desire to honor properly the men and women whose lives were affected by the attack 60 years ago.

"What I'm hoping will happen is that the survivors of the attack feel again in some way respected and honored," said Affleck, who plays Rafe McCawley. "I hope they like the movie. And ultimately it's just a movie and I hope people have fun.

But the film also has a more profound message, Affleck noted, "which is war is a terrible thing and we all hope we never have to fight one again."

Rising star Josh Hartnett, who plays Danny Walker, was looking forward to his second viewing.

"I'm really looking forward to what my parents think about the movie," the 22-year-old said. "I'll also be watching the survivors."

"I'm very emotionally attached (to this movie) because it's history," said director/producer Michael Bay. "We have to give history justice."

Bay, who admitted to seeing the movie many times, said last night's showing would be the most emotional. "I'm definitely going to be watching the survivors' reactions tonight," he said before the show.

Some might argue that the $140-million production is more entertainment than documentary. Some disapprove of the lack of local faces and perspectives in the film, shot partially in Hawai'i.

"They should've had more Hawai'i things in there," local chef Sam Choy said after the screening. "They should've went a little more into looking at local civilian families and what happened with them."

But Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have said those were not the stories they were trying to capture.

"There's so much people don't know about Pearl Harbor," said Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Dorrie Miller. "About how America came together — every race, every creed, to help each other.... Hopefully our film expresses some of that."

The survivors were honored after the credits rolled, taking the stage to smoke effects. The nurses, enlisted men stationed at Pearl Harbor and 17 Doolittle Raiders in the audience were welcomed on stage with a standing ovation.

As six spotlights behind the illuminated Arizona Memorial beamed into the clear night sky, survivor and memorial volunteer Dick Fiske played taps, as he did on the morning of the attack. His bugle call was followed by country singer Lee Greenwood's stirring rendition of "God Bless the USA," backed by U.S. Navy Sea Chanters and the Honolulu Symphony led by pops conductor Matt Catingub.

At 10:55 p.m. fireworks were launched from three barges near the Arizona to a medley of patriotic songs by the symphony. The survivors on stage turned their chairs skyward to soak it all in.

The party wasn't over. Guests were ushered to buffet lines on the flight deck, behind the stadium bleachers, or to a cavernous lower-deck hangar that housed a festive USO-themed party with a live band and dancing.

While guests munched crisp goat cheese won tons, chili black bean mushroom salad from the wok, and roasted strip loin with chili black bean sauce, among other offerings by Indigo Eurasian Cuisine, the VIPs massed in a cordoned-off area in the middle of the hangar party. They smiled for photos, signed autographs and congratulated each other on the success of the premiere. At one point Aykroyd climbed onstage, grabbed the mike and serenaded everyone with "Mustang Sally."

Affleck, Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, James King, Pat Riley and Faith Hill were among the notables sipping champagne or downing beer in the restricted VIP area, as fans without proper credentials strained to catch a glimpse — or even a snapshot.

But the night belonged to the survivors, whose tables were surrounded by adoring military personnel, civilian guests and celebrities.

"When the survivors came out on stage, that was the big moment of the night for me," said Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwon. "It was amazing to see them and talk to them."

"The film brought back a lot of memories," said Larry Julian, who was at Fort Kamehameha the morning of the infamous attack. "There was definitely hair standing on the back of my neck."

Of the premiere he noted: "This celebrates the memory of those who died and those who survived."

His hopes for the film this summer are that "a lot of kids wake up and realize what happened.

"I think this movie is really going to open their eyes."