News flash: John Travolta is getting into journalism. Jamie Lee Curtis doesn't care who sees her yank up the bodice of a strapless dress edging its way down her body. Marilu Henner has lost weight. And Lesley Stahl's mother is very proud.
"It was an acting exercise, but it turned out better," said Travolta last night at a party to celebrate the first Washington showing of his new movie "Perfect."
"Perfect" is filled with exercise -- much of it takes place at an aerobics palace -- but Travolta's exercise was of a more sedentary sort. To prepare for his role as a reporter, he tapped out a few stories on a portable computer. Just to prepare. Now Rolling Stone is going to publish the end result, which is about Curtis, "Perfect" director James Bridges, screenwriter Aaron Latham and Jann Wenner.
Travolta plays a character based on Latham in "Perfect." Wenner edits Rolling Stone and also appeared in "Perfect." Latham is married to Lesley Stahl. The world itself may not be small, but some circles in it border on the minute.
"Perfect" is about a journalist writing about health spas, as Latham did several years ago for Rolling Stone. Given the fact that much of the action consists of pelvic rocks, hip thrusts and leg lifts, bodies were on peoples' minds.
"I look better in my real life than I wanted Sally to look," said Henner of the character she plays in "Perfect." "I stopped working out and didn't pay much attention to what I ate. Right after, I got real skinny again. I couldn't stand it."
"Marilu has lost weight, I think, since the movie," said Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. at the party at the Chevy Chase Athletic Club as Henner walked by, all svelte black dress and auburn hair.
Jamie Lee Curtis is so thin!" said Mary Fahrenkopf, "but even so . . . "
Yes, even so. Curtis didn't last long at the party. She cuddled in a squash court with Travolta for the photographers, hiked up the blue dress with white polka dots (that certainly didn't seem to have enough slack to be slipping), and then she and her husband, actor Christopher Guest, left. Judging from the expressions on the faces surrounding her, a few hearts were broken.
In "Perfect," Travolta-the-reporter and Jamie Lee Curtis-the-aerobics-instructor become quite close. Quite close, indeed. Much of the story, Latham said, is based on fact, but "the Jamie Lee Curtis character is in the great tradition of the newspaper romance comedy. But I did meet my wife while I was working on a story."
The last comment was so Lesley's mother wouldn't worry.
"I'm Lesley's mother," said Lesley's mother, Dorothy, just after the movie ended. "Wasn't that a winner, exclamation point!" (Only someone with a journalist in the family specifies punc tuation.)
The whole night was something of a family get-together. Every other person at the screening seemed to be a journalist. One of the biggest laughs of the evening came when a voice on an answering machine identified itself as New York Times reporter Steven Roberts. You see, there actually is a Steven Roberts in the Washington bureau of The Times.
And there was Latham for a few minutes in the background as Lauren Hutton and Wenner made ice cream in the foreground. "Look, it's Aaron!" one woman whispered loudly, like a kid well on the way to getting the prize in a scavenger hunt.
At the party, they all gathered around Stahl and Latham and Travolta and said how much they loved the movie. They made journalist jokes, asked each other things like "How's 'Nightwatch' doing?", stared at Curtis, said it was exhausting just to watch all those actors jump around on screen, ate a few melon balls, danced a little, wondered if Travolta would dance, thought he probably wouldn't.
"This is not the normal operation of the club," a healthy looking young man told a healthy looking young woman. They smiled the secret smile of aerobics initiates and the party continued.