What we have in Salon B of the Four Seasons Hotel is one bar, one large table of hors d'oeuvres, one podium, two press agents, two head tables and three round tables containing about two dozen guests.
And at 7 last night, the only missing ingredient is the six promised movie stars -- Julie Andrews, William Holden, Robert Preston, Robert Webber, Richard Mulligan and Loretta Swit -- here to pitch collectively their latest film, Blake Edwards' "S.O.B.," a spoof of Hollywood madness that can't possibly be any more bizarre than this so-called 15-minute press conference.
"We will have stars in just seven or eight minutes," a slightly harried press agent, Julian Meyers, says at about 7:35. "The stars are here. They've had a tough day." Up at dawn, for a press breakfast in New York. "We went from there on a bus with a bar to Philadelphia where we had a very nice, very well-attended lunch, and then on to Washington. We expected to be here a little sooner."
The movie exhibitors, film-biz employes and hangers-on are getting sufficiently lubricated when Meyers announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, we will have a star for you in just one minute."
The stars left Hollywood Thursday on a Learjet hop to a San Francisco press dinner. After dinner the six climbed back onto the two Learjets and flew to Lincoln, Neb., where at 1 a.m. yesterday the planes refueled as the six talked with the local press. The Lears flew on to New York, where after a few hours of sleep the six began their New York/Philly/ D.C. day by bus, with the Lears fetching them here at 11 last night to carry them off to Boston. And by tonight they should have made it through Toronto and onto Chicago as well. Eight rounds in 2 1/2 days.
"I think I can bring a star in now," says Meyers.
And with this, Julie Andrews leads the whole troop into the room.
It isn't anyone else's fault we're late," says Andrews, taking on her Mary Poppins demeanor. "It's all our fault."
Now there's a certain amount of confusion. Should the six sit at the head table and take turns at the podium, or mix with the assembled? They opt for the more intimate possibilities of plopping down at tables, which causes the folks not seated with Julie Andrews to feel left out.
So they stare at her. And ask questions like, What was the significance of the dog in the film? Isn't it hard to take shots at your own business? Who's your favorite actor? What's the name of this press agent?
"I don't know," says William Holden.
Is it tough acting?
"Hell, I'm not an actor," says Holden. "I'm a huckster. I'm selling a picture on the road."
Two of the actors get up and begin to circulate.
"We're working the room tonight," says Andrews.
"You look better than you did at the opening of 'The Sound of Music,'" says a woman.
"The movie's doing very well," says Andrews, who is Blake Edward's wife. "But we all felt -- Blake certainly feels -- that it could be doing better. So we're doing this little tour."
This little tour was preceded by a great big junket in Los Angeles for journalists from all over the country. At the last minute Paramount decided to cancel the event, and so Blake Edwards footed the bill -- $110,000.
"The press had already been invited," Andrews says. "You can't cancel then. They'll think 'Why?' It's [the movie's] not important enough. Nobody cares."
Of her already infamous breast-bearing scene in "S.O.B.," she says, "It's nothing really, a small part in a very large tapestry."
But what are they thinking in Peoria? She picks up a biography of her written in 1956 and starts reading the words she had said then to a New York Post magazine reporter:
"My one happiness is to work in London and go home every night after the show," she had said.
"What bull----," says Julie Andrews.
Outside the jets are wailing.