LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Five hundred Hollywood insiders packed the Directors Guild theater for a memorial to Walter Matthau that turned out to be as much a laugh-fest as a Friars Club roast.
The tone Sunday was set by an invitation that specified "cheerful attire" and, except for some tears from Matthau's longtime buddy Jack Lemmon, it captured the comedy of Matthau on the screen and off.
Lemmon, whose collaboration with Matthau began with "The Fortune Cookie," told of taking his friend to a preview of a film in which Lemmon starred.
"The exodus of the public began after the first reel," Lemmon recalled, "and by the end of this movie there were two rows of people left -- probably from the studio. I asked, 'Walter what do you think of the picture?' He said, 'Get out of it!"'
Lemmon concluded tearfully: "He was my best friend. One thing is a constant, when I was with Walter in a film or personally, it was always magic time."
Among the mourners were Diane Keaton, Neil Simon, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, Angie Dickinson, Carl Reiner and producers Walter Mirisch and Howard W. Koch.
Matthau, who died of heart failure July 1 at age 79, won a supporting actor Academy Award for "The Fortune Cookie," and cemented his stardom as Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple."
People turn out for Brockovich
BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) -- What was supposed to be a simple autograph signing session turned into a festival for Erin Brockovich, whose battle against a California utility was turned into a hit movie.
More than 300 people turned out to see Brockovich, the legal assistant played in the movie by Julia Roberts, at Silver Screen Video to sign copies of the "Erin Brockovich" video and DVD last week.
"We just wanted a small signing out in front," Silver Screen Video owner Roberta Walker said. "Then Universal got wind of it and said, 'Why don't you let us do a little more for it?' It's more than I thought."
The mayor even proclaimed Aug. 15 Erin Brockovich Day.
"I have to tell you from the bottom of my heart that I hope that all of you are proud of you," Brockovich said to the crowd after accepting the proclamation. "You inspire me. You are my heroes."
West Virginia honors Alabama
FAIRLEA, W.Va. (AP) -- The country music band Alabama will no longer perform in West Virginia as mere visitors
The four band members -- Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook and Mark Herndon -- were presented a Distinguished West Virginian Award during the group's sold-out concert at the State Fair of West Virginia on Saturday night.
"With this proclamation, Governor Cecil Underwood has made each of you an honorary West Virginian," state Delegate Steve Harrison said when he presented the award.
The group, which has performed at the state fair five times since 1982, has made hits out of "Forty Hour Week (For A Livin')," "Song Of The South" and "My Home's in Alabama."
Parton returns to high school
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Dolly Parton appeared at her former high school to congratulate the football team on its first-ever state championship and announce plans for a scholarship contribution.
"I know it ain't just dreams that earn" a state title, she said Saturday at Sevier County High School, presenting a gleaming gold trophy to the team captains at the season's first game.
The Dollywood Foundation, which raises money for education in her native Sevier County, will match any individual contributions to the high school alumni association. It hopes to build a fund large enough to award scholarships to every graduating senior.
Parton graduated from Sevier County High School in 1964. Although she moved to Nashville to pursue a country music career, her parents and other relatives still live in the county.
Parton has since boosted the county financially with ventures such as her Dollywood theme park and she continues to pump money into its education system. A $500,000 gift from her foundation in 1992 was the largest grant the school system had ever received.
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