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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

'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 Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hollywood invaded Hawai'i last night at the highly anticipated — and highly hyped — world premiere of "Pearl Harbor" aboard the USS John C. Stennis last night.

Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck strike a pose shortly after arriving for the premiere of the Disney film "Pearl Harbor." The movie opens in theaters Friday.

Associated Press

The real Pearl Harbor served as the perfect backdrop for the premiere, which saw more than 2,000 invited guests that included the movie's cast and principal crew, survivors of the attack, local military brass, government officials and other celebrities decked in what Disney called "Aloha crisp." That meant anything from tucked-in aloha shirts to sharp pantsuits to Asian-inspired designs. Many ignored the Navy's request to wear close-toed shoes, opting for strappy sandals and slippers instead.

The red carpet welcomed the stylish celeb sect, from rocker Courtney Love in a black lace number to a dapper Cary Elwes to an elegant Faith Hill, all aglow over the $140 million action-drama.

"This is not reality, man," said an awestruck Josh Hartnett, who plays Danny Walker in the film, as he made his way through the media lined along the red carpet. "I just hope everything works and the survivors enjoy the movie."

The VIP guests strolled down the red carpet, posing for pictures for the dozens of invasive TV cameras and newspaper photographers.

Most happily obliged requests for photos from the lucky crewmen and civilians who snagged seats in bleachers alongside the carpet.

Actor Dan Aykroyd, who plays Capt. Thurman, politely answered questions from media and patiently posed for photos.

Alec Baldwin, who plays Col. Jimmy Doolittle, granted nearly every photo request from beckoning fans, even cradling a sailor's wife for a photo.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Associated Press

Survivors applauded

Even local celebrities got in on the action. Former "Baywatch Hawai'i" star Stacy Kamano stopped to bask in the celebrity spotlight, enjoying photo ops with mostly male fans.

"This is gong to be amazing," she declared, striking in a yellow knit dress embroidered with flowers and hung by thin straps on her tanned shoulders. "It has to be, right?"

Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa (who is in the movie), Andy Bumatai, Robert Cazimero, Sam Choy and designer Takeo were among the local notables on hand. U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Gov. Ben Cayetano, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, Mufi Hannemann, Councilman Jon Yoshimura and Mayor Jeremy Harris were in attendance.

But among all the glitter, Pearl Harbor survivors rode down the red carpet in golf carts, reminding fans and media what this movie is all about. Waving and smiling, the survivors got a taste of fame, as those sitting in the bleachers rose to applaud their arrival. Every time.

Faith Hill

Associated Press

Even though the movie focused on the historic event that propelled the United States into World War II, the glitz and romance could hardly be ignored.

"I'm satisfied that they (Disney) did everything they could to be historically accurate," said Gov. Ben Cayetano, who attended the premiere with his wife, Vicky. "After all, it is a love story."

Gooding: 'I'm on the moon'

And this is a Hollywood premiere, with stars under the stars.

Cuba Gooding Jr. made a grand entrance in an olive suit and with great enthusiasm. The actor who plays Navy hero Dorrie Miller greeted every lens with a wide smile and a personable laugh.

As he made his way down the press line, one sailor yelled out, "Forget the press!" Gooding laughed, waved his hands and headed toward the lucky fan, who took a slew of photos with the Academy Award-winning actor. "Oh, yeah," Gooding said, waving the shaka.

James King

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I'm on the moon," he told reporters.

The screams from fans got progressively louder as stars James King, Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck rounded out the list of cast members attending the premiere.

King, in a deep orange vintage dress adorned with a simple strand of pearls, giggled with excitement. "This is just so much fun," said the model-turned-actress who plays Betty, a nurse in the movie. She slinked her way down the carpet, posing for photos with sailors who were as giddy as schoolboys.

Beckinsale, in a slinky white Prada gown and stilettos, glowed for the cameras, basked in the flashes. As she posed for photos with her husband, Michael Sheen, a reporter called out for them to "get romantic." The properly spoken British actress, who plays nurse Evelyn Johnson, smartly responded with a devilish grin, "I think we'll save that for when we get home."

Alec Baldwin

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Right on her stilettos was Affleck, dapper in a cream suit and periwinkle shirt. After posing for photos with Beckinsale, his arms wrapped neatly around her waist, he stopped to humor some reporters' questions while egging the sailors nearby to cheer.

"For me, this is an event to honor a whole generation of Americans," he said. "What I'm hoping will happen is that, in particular, the survivors of the attack feel, again, that in somewhere they're respected and honored by the movie."

Affleck fashionably late

Affleck arrived a bit late, after 6:30 p.m., because his limousine got into an accident on the way to pick him up, his publicist said. But being tardy seemed to work in Affleck's favor, as he strode down the carpet in movie-star style: Fashionably late.

Pearl Harbor survivor Demetrius Vellis and wife Coralie are escorted aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

He did his homework, surprising reporters with quick wit and a blitz of facts about World War II.

"One of the most terrible things about World War II was that 50 million people died on six continents," he firmly stated to one reporter. "This is not a war that was exclusive to the United States."

By 7:05 p.m. the guests were seated in the outdoor theater on the deck of the aircraft carrier, the stage bathed in a deep purple light. To the right was the Arizona Memorial, an eerie reminder of what happened the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Armed with buckets of buttered popcorn and Pepsis, eager guests marveled at the F-15 fighter jet missing-man salute that began the festivities.

Stunning in a crisp, white pantsuit, Hill opened the evening with a poignant yet powerful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," accompanied by the Honolulu Symphony, led by pops conductor Matt Catingub.

As the country star reached "and the rockets red glare," fireworks launched from a boat in the harbor lit up the darkening sky. The audience oohed, sold by Disney's magical touch.

'And now ... Pearl Harbor'

Hawai'i Air National Guard F-15s soar over Pearl Harbor.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

After the introduction of dignitaries and a slew of thank-yous and acknowledgements, the cast and principal crew were introduced. King was greeted by hoots and hollering; Gooding humored the audience with a little jig.

Receiving a standing ovation was Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Thomas Fargo.

He motioned toward the Arizona Memorial, calling it a "symbol of our most desperate hour."

The lights from Kapolei and Makakilo glittered in the distance. As the US Navy Sea Chanters sang "America the Beautiful," about eight spotlights rose from boats anchored alongside the memorial.

A huge movie screen lowered, as Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group and the night's emcee, said, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, 'Pearl Harbor.' "

At 7:47 p.m. Right on schedule.

Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, right, took his son Calen to the premiere.

Associated Press

Actor Tom Sizemore (center) borrows a sailor's hat on his way down the red carpet.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Fans look to the stars as they make their way down the red carpet aboard the Stennis.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

A spectacular fireworks display over the Stennis and the Arizona Memorial ended last night's premiere of the movie "Pearl Harbor."

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser