Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Everyplace you looked somebody looked famous. They were. It was Hollywood West meeting Hollywood East Thursday night on the grandest stage of all, the White House and later on more familiar theatrical turf at the Kennedy Center.
Or, as Jimmy Carter put it, standing in the East Room between the portraits of George and Martha Washington:
"The movies have touched all of our lives, mine as farm boy. It gave me a vision of the outside world. I'm sure the first time I saw the White House was in the back row of a movie theater."
The Carters welcomed nearly 600 from the motion picture industry - some of the old greats, some of them rising new ones - as part of the American Film Institute's 10th anniversary celebration climaxed later at a gala benefit in the Kennedy Center.
As turnouts go, even in Hollywood East, it was something more than spectacular.
Even for the President, "I had a chance to put my arms around Olivia de Haviland, Lilian Gish and others whom I have loved from a distance," he said, and everybody knew he meant it.
Just like they knew he meant "in the South we date life either before 'Gone With the Wind' or after . . . I think perhaps we saw a different version from what was being shown in the rest of the country.
"One of my favorite scenes," the President continued, "was the burning of Schenectady, just before Grant surrendered to Robert E. Lee. It was a great movie. It's not quite as good now as it was then . . ."
Over at the Kennedy Center there was some high-powered disagreement with Carter - predictably from Henry Kissinger, but for less predictable reasons. The former Secretary of State said that "quite frankly I was in favor of Citizen Kane, which is you know, my story."
In the East Room, where everybody congregated once they shook hands with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, there were clumps of celebrities within clumps. Lauren Bacall and Barbara Howan talked a lot, joined eventually by Ethel Kennedy, who said she hadn't been to the White House since the days of Lyndon Johnson.
Jimmy Stewart collared Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennysylvania, who had been Ronald Reagan's choice for the 1976 Republican campaigning for him," said Stewart.
Nine-year-old Amy Carter suddenly found herself a celebrity's celebrity. Clearly somewhat embarrased, she permitted Henry Fonda to take a close look at her engraved name bracelet.
After the official performance in the Kennedy Center Opera House, $25-a-head patrons went off to a party in the AFI offices where George Stevens Jr.'s office was cordoned off by a velvet cord (as though it were a room in Mount Vernon) and Charlton ("Planet of the Apes," "Ben Hur") Heston. AFI board chairman, signed autographs.
Big patrons and stars of Hollywood and Washington - some 1,500 of them - got to go to a sitdown dinner in the Atrium.
One naysayer was presidential security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. He characterized the evening as "surrealistic - you know, all that 'Star Wars' stuff." He was not, he admitted, a movie buff. Was he impressed by all the Hollywood stars present?" Are they stars?" he asked.
Earlier, at much more sedate White House reception, Lauren Bacall told the President that "a good Democrat like me, I can't believe it's the first time I've been at the White House."
Carter's remarks had been more than routine, displaying what some of his guests saw as a genuine sensitivity to - and understanding of - film as an art form and chronicler of life.
Films tie what he called "a highly diverse American society together - those who were rich could learn what poverty was. Those of us who were happy could learn about sorrow and those who were stricken with hunger and sorrow could learn about happiness.
After dinner, the Atrium became a disco-style party, its guests out-glittering almost anything anybody could think of at the Center save, perhaps, its opening.
Carter administration officials - noted for their social shyness - came in hordes. Ethel Kennedy, Pierre Salinger as well as Kissinger representing administrations past. Hollywood directors and studio heads in clutches. Stars, stars, stars, en masse.
Omar Sharif, flirting shamelessly, Rod Steiger, Kissenger's dinner partner. Diane von Furstenberg, Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz whispering with Kissenger about the precedent-breaking visit of Egypt's Anwar Sadat to Israel this Saturday.
And finally, playwright Peter Stone ("1776") confiding to his dinner partner that, yes, he had been hustled in by George Stevens at the last moment to help write the remarks President Carter had memorized and deliveried with true Hollywood style.