11.17.09

New Moon Rises Over Hollywood

The streets were gridlocked. The scent of hysteria was in the air. Kim Masters hits the Twilight sequel premiere, as Christmas comes early in Southern California.

Since fans have been camping in Westwood for days in the hope of catching a glimpse of the stars on their way in to the New Moon premiere on Monday night, I decide to pick up my tickets early. I dash to will call at 5 p.m.—a full two and a half hours before the premiere is supposed to begin and three and a half hours before it actually will begin.

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Too late. The streets are barricaded, the sidewalks are literally gridlocked and the entire block in front of the theater is illuminated by klieg lights. The scent of hysteria is unmistakable. Hollywood just doesn’t make many premieres like this any more.

A voice is booming through loudspeakers; some sort of New Moon-associated entertainment is on offer, though it’s impossible to make out who is being introduced to the cheering crowd. “Da ist ein Werewolf,” I hear someone say.

I sidle up to sisters Lane and Samantha Mowbray, who work in a barbershop, to ask what they are hoping to see. “We’re thinking the boys from the movie will come walking out here and sweep us off our feet!” says Samantha. “And they won’t be wearing shirts!”

But Lane says just being there—even without tickets—is good enough.

“It’s like Christmas,” Samantha concurs.

“We’re thinking the boys from the movie will come walking out here and sweep us off our feet!” says Samantha. “And they won’t be wearing shirts!”

A few feet away, a woman is holding a sign that reads, “Give us three tickets and we’ll give you Hawaii. Inquire within.” This is Lehua Alapai, who says she’s flown here from Kona and will offer lodging (but not transportation) in exchange for admissions. Like the Mowbray sisters, she says it doesn’t matter if she gets no closer than the sidewalk.

Closer to game time, I set out with my tween and we fight our way to the theater. As we pass through the metal detector, even the security guard is giddy. “Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob?” she asks, adding, “I’m so excited, my heart is like that,” as she flutters her hand over her breast.

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Dakota Fanning is in the lobby, looking well and behaving even better as she graciously greets young fans. Larry David walks by. His enthusiasm looks curbed. After a time, Robert Pattinson enters and sits in the center section. My tween announces that she must and will say something to him and she darts away. Minutes later she returns with a broad smile. She said, “Hi,” and he said, “How are you doing?” The night could end right now.

As the credits roll, we’re off to the packed after-party at the Hammer Museum. The food is Italian—risotto, tortellini, salad—in a nod to a mystifying (to me) sequence in the film. For dessert there is gelato and miniature cannoli and cupcakes with fangs on them.

Around the perimeter of the museum courtyard are tall thrones upholstered in white, reserved for the VIPs. The stars are in a roped-off area about the size of a dog run at a kennel. Surrounded by bodyguards, they do their best to ignore the crowd pressing in. Kristen Stewart signs a few autographs before turning to smoke a cigarette. It is a surreal scene. Could she ever have imagined this when she was starring in Catch That Kid?

But it grows late. We swipe a fanged cupcake and fight one last battle, to get out of the party. It was a good night, though I suspect that Lehua Alapai and the Mowbray sisters had at least as much fun as I did.

Kim Masters covers the entertainment business for The Daily Beast. She is also the host of The Business, public radio's weekly program about the business of show business. She is also the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everybody Else.