Ashton and Demi, Jon Hamm, and even Bristol Palin made the rounds in Los Angeles to prepare for the Academy Awards ceremony. VIEW OUR GALLERY of the best pre-Oscar bashes.
The run-up to the Oscars has been like a birthday party, high-school graduation, high-wattage fashion show, and presidential election all rolled into one. Or as one industry person said, “The whole week is like a wedding where Hollywood marries itself.”
Wednesday night was charity night, with nearly half a dozen fairly well-attended events supporting various causes. The celebrities ranged from the A-list (Ben Stiller and Jon Hamm at a benefit for Artists for Peace and Justice) to the inexplicable (Bristol Palin at a benefit for Haiti). No matter. That event also drew in an Oscar nominee (Anna Kendrick) and a Hollywood legend (Jane Fonda).
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As ever, many of the best parties have been ones where press is not allowed, which means the closest anyone from the Fourth Estate got to Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Robert Downey Jr. on Friday night was across the street from Bryan Lourd's home in Los Angeles, where the annual CAA party was taking place.
It was a similar situation at the William Morris Endeavor party held at the Brentwood home of top agent Ari Emanuel. The man of the hour spent much of the evening at the door, along with his young son, greeting guests one by one.
And come they did to kiss the ring and pay their respects: Renee Zellweger, Harvey Weinstein, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Janet Jackson, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Benderas, and Janet Jackson made appearances.
• Our Complete Oscar CoverageIn a gigantic tented area in the back, Larry David was immersed in his BlackBerry and Quentin Tarantino bounced around from one person to another like a ping-pong ball, garnering congratulations for a movie that will likely win at least two or three big Oscars, but not the biggest one of all. Although you never know, given the newly instituted weighted voting system, which no one in Hollywood understands.
Also there was Nicolas Chartier, The Hurt Locker producer who was banned from the actual Oscar ceremony after he sent an email to voters suggesting they pick his movie over Avatar.
For a week, Hollywood's been ragging on him. Co-producer Mark Boal even told The Daily Beast, “Everyone understands that Nic bears the responsibility for his mistake 100 percent on his own shoulders,” but many people in the room were actually happy to see him out and about. "The whole controversy is totally ridiculous," said one producer who was in attendance that night.
The following day, things moved over to Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg's annual picnic in honor of Vanity Fair's Editor in Chief Graydon Carter. (Barry Diller is CEO of The Daily Beast's parent company, IAC.) The rain pretty much passed the party over and guests dined on macaroni and cheese, spare ribs, and chocolate bread pudding.
Jane Fonda was seen high-fiving Quincy Jones, David Geffen and Rupert Murdoch were tete-a-tete, and New York Times editor Bill Keller was at a table in the back with Bill Maher. (Even at the Oscars, there’s a smart kids’ table.) Inside the house, Nancy Reagan, still a first lady in one of her trademark red suits, was perched on a sofa next to Anderson Cooper.
Lee Daniels, the director of Precious, hit the bar for some dessert, where a reporter asked him about his scene-stealing acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards the night before. He had made a joke about his movie's status as also-ran to The Hurt Locker. "Kathryn Bigelow’s not here tonight,” the director had said. “I am.”
"I'm a little worried people didn't get it," he said. "Half the room laughed and half of it was totally silent. People need to get a sense of humor."
The last gasp of pre-Oscar madness was one of the best attended: “The Night Before” party, which is hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg and benefits the Motion Picture Home, an assisted-living facility for senior citizens in the film business. According to a press release, folks in attendance included George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony, Colin Firth, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eddie Murphy, and Penelope Cruz.
Who needs the actual awards?