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A night with the stars at the Mark Taper Forum

September 15, 2008 |  3:23 pm

82552076rm083 Saturday night's gala reopening of the Mark Taper Forum -- its $30-million renovation was feted for (among other things) being "on time and on budget" -- contained the usual smattering of A-list stars, at least one billionaire, multiple multimillionaires, big donors you've probably never heard of and a handful of mere humans. For those seeking tales of ladies room spats, spilled drinks and fisticuffs, we're sorry to report that this was a well-mannered group, as one may expect with the-ah-ter. It was a black-tie, after all, and at up to $1,500 a ticket, this was hardly the MTV crowd.

Roving video cameras captured every move on the red carpet and later at dinner (peeky toe crab salad on toast, filet mignon with bread pudding and baby spinach, and a watery blackberry mousse-like thing with mystery fruit buried within). Dame Edna provided the preshow entertainment, cornering embarrassed diners whose visages were projected on huge monitors, and throwing out with two or three too many quips about Sarah Palin and how "they eat whale blubber in Alaska, you know."

Later, when L.A.'s elite began to take their seats inside for the evening's performance of John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves," the real personalities of the rich and famous emerged. "Look where 'so-and-so-' is sitting," one woman sniffed in what thespians refer to as a stage whisper. Who knew there was that much competition over which big donor got "better seats" than that other big donor. "We're way up in the nosebleed section," huffed a spouse-of-celebrity as she made her way to her 10th-row, center seat. Who knew there was a "nosebleed section" in a 739-seat theater?

At the party afterward, attendees reconvened on the plaza for dancing, more free booze and fireworks. A table covered with big glass bowls filled with salt-water taffy, chocolate wrapped candies, dried fruit and other sweets was set out for guests in a help-yourself-to-a-cellophane-bag-of-candy station. We watched one bejeweled guest in a gown cram about 2 pounds of mixed nuts into her tiny bag. Guess even the very very rich can't pass up free grub.

Follow the jump for the evening in photos.

--Lisa Fung

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Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres walk the red carpet.

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Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin

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Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy join Dame Edna on the red carpet.

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Dame Edna welcomes Robert Sean Leonard and Gabriella Salick.

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Virginia Madsen and Dame Edna

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Eric Stoltz

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Kristen Bell and Zachary Quinto

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Tania Kosevich and Eric Idle

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William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and Edythe and Eli Broad

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Gina Torres, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance

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Arielle Kebbel and Benjamin McKenzie

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Gordon Davidson and Kirk Douglas

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Dinner is served.

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Dame Edna chats up Anne and Kirk Douglas as Michael Ritchie looks on.

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Inside the theater

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James Cromwell and guest

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Tony Shalhoub and Dame Edna depart

All photos by Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging

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