Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' PartyAs we noted at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Animal House is turning 30 this year. Thankfully, this is one of the few pop culture movies that I can say I was too young too truly remember. Vague images of John Belushi and togas linger in my waterlogged, alcohol-soaked brain, but I'd never experienced the phenomenon that is the John Landis-directed flick first-hand. With promises of beer and babes, I headed to the Bergamot Station Arts Colony, a 16,000 square foot facility where the Writer's Boot Camp is located. Founded by Jeffrey Gordon, Writer's Boot Camp, besides drilling in the basics of Structure and Exciting Incidents into the minds of many aspiring screenwriters, also hosts parties. This one delivered on its promise to bring together members of the cast and crew, including Landis himself, to a panel discussion. Also: did you know that it's possible to talk about Animal House for TWO HOURS?Making my way through the gargantuan Colony, I stopped and took a picture of a "Junker Garden," an art project by Farmlab. A Mercedes filled with dirt and plants. Très cool. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Once safely inside the Bootcamp, I was greeted by yes, you guessed it, Hot Chicks in Togas. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party One of them was a friend-of-a-friend, Dana Schoenfeld (blondie on the left), who is also does marketing and events for Bootcamp, and is also a recent New York escapee. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party As this was billed as a "Class Reunion," no details were spared. We were reminded that it was Rush Week with several well-placed signs and props. Hurrah! Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party The evening started with a screening at 5 p.m.. Thinking that most people would wait to show up for the panel discussions later on, I was shocked to see a full house of 40-something people dutifully chuckling along in the Bootcamp's screening room. The movie seems almost quaint in some ways—they have that way of talking with clear diction and sharp accents that reminds me of old movies from the '50s and '60s; I also didn't know that Kevin Bacon or Donald Sutherland were in it. Afterwards, everyone ran to grab some grub at one of the bountiful tables of food. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party In a side room, Animal House's writer Chris Miller read from his memoir, The Real Animal House, about his actual fraternity, which the movie was based. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Then we all filed back into the main room for a two-hour panel discussion between the cast and crew, including John Landis, Smith, and Stephen Bishop (aka, "charming guy with guitar"), Stephen Furst ("Flounder"), with Gordon moderating. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Robert Morgan Fisher—who organized the whole event—insisted that he sing the song in the movie from the famous scene where Belushi smashes the guitar all the way to the end. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Of course, it was not to be. This guy (I would described him as a dead ringer, but um, oh, ah, too late) showed up. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party After lengthy, wordy (well, they are writers) but engaging, intros, they commenced with dispensing nuggets of not-previously disclosed information and amusing anecdotes. For instance, did you know that Chris Miller was behind the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" campaign? Now, you do. Did you know that it's one of the 300 films in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress? The horse, apparently, was the highest paid performer in the movie. Because the studio was so nervous about the movie, they screened it for Richard Pryor. After viewing it he called up and said, "It's fucking funny. You white people are crazy." The studio wanted Chevy Chase to star, and pushed for Dom DeLuise and Dan Aykroyd. Without a star, Landis was told he wouldn't get a greenlight. An old friend, Donald Sutherland, came to the rescue. "I called him up and said you have to do me a favor," recalled the director. Martha Smith who played Babs, displayed a dry wit. She said: "I'm looking forward to the 50 year reunion," she paused. "Animal Home." And, in case you were wondering, she still looks damn hot. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party It seems that they had as much fun making the film as it looks. Chris Miller: "When the first movie you write is Animal House, you get a skewed idea and think, 'Wow, this is going to be easy.'" And he answered Gordon's semi-serious question about the collaboration methods of writing the script, thus: "The collaboration involved a lot of marijuana." As Landis was a new director at the time, Animal House was also not Priority Number One. "They took away my crane to work on the Incredible Hulk TV series," he remembered. Though he said the Animal House script was the "single funniest thing I ever read," Landis instructed the writers to rewrite by posing the two Frat factions as good guys and bad guys, or, "sympathetic and unsympathetic." As a Hollywood sacrificial virgin, I have no idea if by industry standards John Landis has a crazy reputation as a dark lord, but during the panel, he seemed like a really awesome, down-to-earth, supremely funny, no bullshit, I-wanna-get-drinks-with-him, kind of guy. Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party I especially liked it when he ripped on some cliched screenwriting tropes. "Structure," he paused and looked up. "When someone says, 'the Arc of a Character,' in a conversation, I immediately think, 'This guy doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about." Nervous giggles, there. (Later, a pretty British teacher at the school stood up and defended character arc, and said, "I disagree with you. I can't believe I just said that." Though he had earlier called the Animal House script, "a really smart and literate screenplay," he told a seemingly shell-shocked audience of aspiring writers, "Screenwriting is not literature." (Cue: air getting sucked out of room.) And he imparted this bit of wisdom: "It's not about the idea. It's ONLY about the execution." At the end, a woman in the audience asked not so eloquently how we could go back to that feel-good era and do something like Animal House again. Landis extrapolated and explained that a mid-level, indie-like movie isn't possible anymore, in days when it takes $30 million just to open a picture. "I used to be able to look at my studios and say, 'Whose company is that?' There's not one major today that's not a small subdivision of a large company." But, the night's most important revelation was not so serious. At one point the director smiled and looked at his old friends: "Wow. We're all one degree from Kevin Bacon." Hot Chicks In Togas? Why, It Must Be An 'Animal House' Party