5 Things People Did at Morton's, Besides Eat and Gossip

Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger

From the deal that made Eddie Murphy a star to the memorial Jerry Bruckheimer threw for Don Simpson, notable moments in the life of Hollywood's commissary.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


One of the most historic was Eddie Murphy’s $15 million, five-picture deal — catapulting the actor to the top of the industry food chain — with Paramount’s then-head of production Michael Eisner in 1987.

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Part of Morton’s lore is that it was the site of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s first date (she was 45 minutes late) and where Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche fell in love at first sight (at the 1997 Vanity Fair Oscar party, one month before DeGeneres came out).


Whether getting a new job, a new deal or a new company, Morton’s was the place to be seen and celebrate. Case in point: It was Larry Tisch’s obligatory stop as the new president and CEO of CBS in 1986.


Or attempt to. After Allan Carr’s disastrously produced Oscars show in 1989 featuring Snow White and Rob Lowe, he strode into Morton’s with bravado, but unfortunately, he was shunned. Some diners turned away from his table and some extended their lunches, hoping the producer would leave first. As former Hollywood Reporter columnist Robert Osborne recalled in Robert Hofler’s Carr biography Party Animals: “No one wanted to talk to Allan Carr. I hadn’t previously seen that so dramatically displayed by so many people in Hollywood as that day at Morton’s — like they’d catch something, like it was a disease.”

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In 1996, the memorial for Don Simpson — the larger-thanlife producing partner of Jerry Bruckheimer — was among the most coveted invitation-only events at the restaurant that year. Barry Diller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Will Smith and Warren Beatty were among those who packed in to honor Simpson, who died of a drug overdose.

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