There was plenty to like—and perhaps even more to dislike—in Sunday night’s Oscar telecast, at least if you followed the sour kibitzing on Twitter and elsewhere. “This show is a train wreck,” Laurie David, ex-wife of Curb Your Enthusiam’s Larry, tweeted early on in the proceedings—a verdict seconded by Sheryl Crow (“dark night onstage at the Oscars”), Michael Moore (“Aren’t the Tonys great!”), and many others.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League chimed in with a press release slamming emcee Seth MacFarlane’s sketch featuring the animated bear Ted and Mark Wahlberg—in which Ted advised Wahlberg that you have to be Jewish “if you want to work in this town”—as “offensive and not remotely funny.”
Everybody’s a critic! For feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, the moment when things really went off the rails was MacFarlane’s awkward opening number, an apparently humorous ditty titled “We Saw Your Boobs,” in which MacFarlane and the Gay Men’s Chorus sang about movie scenes in which actresses went topless. The performance was made all the more cringeworthy as the camera quickly cut to the audience for reactions from the mentioned women, some of whom looked decidedly unamused.
“I’m sure that Seth MacFarlane was trying to be edgy,” Allred told me at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where the Night of 100 Stars Oscars watch party was under way. “It’s one thing to be topless and to have that in the context of the film, for a purpose in a particular scene for a particular reason. It’s another to take it out of context and just focus on women’s breasts.”
Allred added: “I doubt there will be any repercussions for him.”
Unless, of course, Allred signs as clients Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron, among other apparently aggrieved actresses on Sunday’s show, and sues MacFarlane, ABC Television, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and other potentially guilty parties.
Allred laughed off that suggestion—so apparently she’ll give them all a pass this time. “I would like to think that in 2013, women are known for something other than their breasts—but maybe not in Hollywood,” she said. “Maybe the real boobs are the ones who make jokes about breasts.”
Not everybody agreed with Allred’s pan.
“It made me laugh,” Glee’s Jane Lynch told me at the Elton John AIDS Foundation dinner, where $6 million was raised for medical research and treatment—including several winning bids, at $250,000 apiece, in an auction presided over by Christie’s Jamie Niven, for the pop star to come to their homes and perform five songs. “I thought it was great,” Lynch said. “And I love what David [Furnish, Sir Elton’s husband] just said about the awards—that nobody swept. It was very democratic. Everybody got a prize.”
DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg showed up at Elton John’s soiree, toting his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award statuette.
“It was great being in the room,” Katzenberg told me after exchanging bear hugs with his host. “I couldn’t be prouder. This is an amazing, incredible recognition, and I’m very excited. So onward!”
Sir Elton, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction at the evening’s take—a record for the event in its 21st year. Among the items fetching astronomical bids, under one of a series of gargantuan tents that accommodated the vast crowd, were $120,000 for a Terry O’Neill photograph of Faye Dunaway lounging poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel with her 1976 Best Actress Oscar for Network and two $150,000 passes to the Vanity Fair after-party a few blocks away.
Sir Elton helped move the party tickets, explaining that every Oscar winner was required by Hollywood edict to drop by VF—or else. “If they don’t go to the Vanity Fair party, they won’t get in the fucking magazine,” he confided to the crowd.
“I’m always overwhelmed with people’s generosity,” he told me afterward, “and people come back year after year because they know all the money goes to all the appropriate places.” He added that Scottish singer Emeli Sandé, the evening’s entertainment, “is gonna be the next big thing.”
Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, an erstwhile judge on American Idol, stopped socializing long enough to cock an ear to Sandé’s performance and pronounce: “She’s good. She’s really good.” Tyler explained his presence: “If there’s any way that I can them get closer to finding a cure, I’m here. I love Elton.”
The mirrored dance floor soon filled up with happy couples, at the center of whom was a blonde-bouffanted drag queen the size of a linebacker, whirling around in a frenzied facsimile of Adele.