A COLD BUT ENTHUSIASTIC crowd of several hundred people --including a few who refused to let coats mar the glitter of their fancy dresses -- gathered outside the Senator Theater last night to cheer the arrival of actor Kevin Bacon for the world premiere of "He Said, She Said," a Paramount Pictures comedy shot largely in Baltimore last summer.
A brief sidewalk ceremony introduced another autographed square of fame to the York Road movie house. The Senator, which seems determined to become one of the city's tourist attractions, has hosted premieres for such other
made-in-Baltimore movies as "Hairspray," "Cry-Baby," "Avalon" and "Tin Men."
By comparison, last night's $50-a-ticket fund-raiser for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center seemed subdued. There were no evening gowns, no New York paparazzi, no apres-film extravaganzas, only two stretch limousines and a much-applauded appearance by filmmaker John Waters.
As it waited to see the comedy about rival newspaper columnists who fall in love, the virtually sell-out crowd entertained itself with music by Swing Central and food by the Brass Elephant: Swan-shaped pastries, lobster ravioli and carpaccio with sun-dried tomatoes vinaigrette.
"He Said, She Said" presents the history of the relationship of Baltimore Sun columnists Dan Hansen (Kevin Bacon) and Lorie Bryer (Elizabeth Perkins) from both reporters' points of view. Director Ken Kwapis, 33, conceived the first half -- the "He Said" -- of the film while his fiancee Marisa Silver, 30, visualized and directed the "She Said" section.
The two directors also attended the premiere. They explained that the concept of the film was based loosely on the story of their own meeting, a story they soon discovered each remembered slightly differently.
"We hope the film incites a few fights as well," Kwapis said.
Last night marked Silver's first major film premiere. Kwapis made his directing debut with "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird."
"Imagine a world premiere at 10 a.m. in the morning with 90 percent of the audience too young to speak."
Premiere veteran Bacon and his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, were besieged by reporters and requests for autographs.
"I find movie comedy to be immensely challenging," said Bacon. "I've done a lot of comedies on stage where you can find a laugh, lose it, tweak it and make it work. In a movie, you're always shooting in the dark, you don't know what's going to work."
"Kevin plays a character who's a little more unsure and naive and goofy than he is in real life," said Sedgwick. "I think 'He Said, She Said' is a wonderfully romantic movie, a throwback to the Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn type of films."
The movie generated much laughter and immediate sighs of recognition; a plot twist brings the columnists to air their divergent views in a regular "He Said, She Said" feature on WBAL television.
Other pieces of Baltimore which surface in the film include The Conservatory restaurant at The Peabody Court Hotel and several glimpses of the 500 and 600 blocks of Eutaw Street, including Chesapeake Commons and the Afro-American newspaper building.
The Baltimore Sun newsroom scenes were filmed downtown on an empty floor in the Signet building; the directors explained they wanted the newsroom and its reporters to appear as glamorous as possible.
Perhaps in the spirit of the evening, several couples agreed to disagree about the merits of the film as they left the theater.
L "I thought it was real nice," said Baltimorean Missy Deifer.
"But a little corny," insisted her friend Dante Pieramici. "I think we need more reality films. More action-adventure. Less of this 'once-upon-a-time' stuff."
"I thought the film was wonderful, but that the woman character should've been tougher on that guy," said Cindy Rion, also of Baltimore.
"It was enjoyable, but it lacked the punch of 'Harry Met Sally,'" said her companion, Dave McKenney.