The Defamer Special Movie Premiere Food Critic attended last night's screening of The Exorcism of Emily Rose at the ArcLight's Cinerama Dome and after-party at Cabana Club, and has once again filed his impressions of the post-movie spread. While he happily indulged in the all-you-can-eat portions of this Devil's repast, he found the culinary offerings lacking variety and imagination. As always, enjoy your meal:
It was another night of star-studded anticipation at the storied Cinerama Dome, site of so many classic lead-ins to some of the great buffets of modern times. And last night had all the signs that Hollywood dining history would be made again—on the screen, a young woman named Emily Rose battled heroically against the demons that had possessed her body, while in the seats, I battled no less heroically against a gnawing, consuming hunger not for immortal salvation, but to eat and eat lavishly in the style of Hollywood kings of yore.
A little background for the uninitiated into premiere dining. Hollywood premieres almost universally kick off with an 8 PM movie screening. However, by the time all the C -ist stars are dragged away from their paparazzi mugging on the red carpet and into their seats, it is 8:30. Which means that after two hours of watching Emily Rose twist herself up in "there's a demon inside me" yoga poses, the demons were telling me to gnaw off my own hand if I was going to live long enough to enjoy the buffet.
The party, however, was mercifully close by, at the Cabana Club, site of so many classic Movieline advertiser promotional shindigs throughout history. The location was well-chosen for a premiere party; not as cold and loud as the cavernous Athletic Club, where many post-Dome fetes seem to be held. The floor was spacious enough for one to move around with a minimal number of elbows in your face. There was actually seating available, with no more than 3/4 of the Cabana-themed cabanas reserved for VIPs.
So on at last to what we all came for: the all-you-can-eat banquet of the finest in entertainment cuisine. Buffet-bound, I nabbed a couple of circulating hors d'oeuvres—large (but somewhat bland) crabcakes and shrimp cocktail. The downside of shrimp cocktail, of course, is that once you finish it, you are stuck with a shrimp tail in a rolled up napkin in your hand. If you are quick, you can bite off your shrimp while the waitress is still in your presence and deposit it back on the tray. Otherwise, be prepared to incur the scorn of event security when you toss your napkin in the Cabana club moat, as I did.
And then I came to the first buffet. The spread was ample, not breathtakingly imaginative, but generous in portions. Cold asparagus, mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, cheese ravioli, grilled chicken in mushroom sauce, and roast beef with a peppercorn sauce. Standard banquet fare one might receive at a wedding rehearsal dinner anywhere on Earth, but fine. The grilled chicken was especially notable. I finished my plate, satisfied that I'd had a good lead in and enthused for the next buffet.
I turned to table two, where I was surprised to find - cold asparagus, mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, cheese ravioli, grilled chicken in mushroom sauce and roast beef with a peppercorn sauce. Well, it happens. Stations will repeat themselves. I crossed the room to the third buffet table and my mouth dropped in horror when I found...cold asparagus, mashed potatoes...
Could this really be the complete selection? Here I was, at an extremely prestigious event in the epicenter of world entertainment culture, dining alongside the titans of entertainment, and this was it? I mean, it was fine, I enjoyed what I ate, I wasn't leaving hungry, but Showmanship, I cried, where art thy sting?
I moved up to the VIP area. Surely, I thought, they would not come to a red carpet premiere and settle for less than a king's banquet. Once I was able to worm my way around Endeavor superagent Phil Raskin, who held his post like a Beefeater guard outside beloved international star Shohreh Aghdashloo's cabana, I gazed to see the woman who charmed the world in "House of Sand and Fog" and "24" picking at her cheese ravioli. Two cabanas away, Emily Rose herself, the acclaimed star Jennifer Carpenter, worked her way through a plate of sautéed spinach.
And then, the coup de grace was struck against me. When, I asked a waiter, would the deserts arrive? He shook his head. There would be no chocolate fountain tonight.
In future centuries, entertainment historians will see there is no surer predictor of a film's success than the quality of the food at the premiere. Readers of my "Spider-man 2" food review will recall that film banked 200 mil domestic right there at the fried dough with powdered sugar stand. Based on this formula, I predict Emily Rose will do fine its opening weekend. Hungry audiences will get what they came for—they will eat. But as for repeat viewers, I predict there will be few coming back for supernatural creepiness and chicken in mushroom sauce.
Epilogue: Just as I was leaving, a waitress passed by bearing a plate of small desserts. The earlier waiter had lied. I grabbed a spongy little chocolate cake and a glazed lemon tart. They were both quite nice.