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Partying With Oscar : ELTON JOHN : Gracious Host Upstaged by ET--and We Don't Mean Spielberg's


Ralph Fiennes came to Elton John's Oscar party with a get-me-out-of-here look on his face. "I haven't experienced anything quite like it in my life," the "Schindler's List" star said of his evening at the Oscars.

Sharon Stone made an entrance in her now-that-I'm-done-presenting-I'll-change-into-some-thing-doubly-fancy dress. And, judging by the way the stars made beelines to "Entertainment Tonight" host Leeza Gibbons, you would have thought it was her party. It wasn't. (Word of advice, Elt: Next time, keep the TV crews outside.)

John played host--a charming, table-hopping one at that--for the second year at an Academy Awards viewing party that reaped more than $150,000 for his Elton John AIDS Foundation. Will he do it again next year? "Oh yeah, every year. It'll probably be an annual event for us," the rock star said.

The dinner at Maple Drive restaurant in Beverly Hills, underwritten by Cartier, also surely offered the best reward of the night for amateur Oscar ballot markers: The winner took home a gold Cartier watch.

During dinner, the restaurant was skewed toward a music-industry crowd, including Bonnie Raitt, George Michael and Rod Stewart, plus executives from MCA Records, Polygram, MTV, King World and Planet Hollywood. Not surprisingly, Bruce Springsteen's win was one of the room's favorites.

Some felt the void created by the death of uber Oscar party-giver Swifty Lazar. "We miss it," producer Allan Carr said of Lazar's legendary bash. John's mix was "subdued, quiet and chic," he offered before saying he was heading off to fetes at Chasen's and Tatou. But two hours later, Carr was still there--the party wasn't so subdued once the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion started emptying out.

Whoopi Goldberg, in jeans, made a cameo appearance. "I did as well as I could, and I did my best, but it'll take me a few weeks to figure out what that was," she said.

Newlyweds Geena Davis and Renny Harlin agreed that the show went really well. "It was my first time there and, it sounds naive, but I felt a great feeling of unity and goodwill," director Harlin said.

About 11:30, best actor winner Tom Hanks made it into the party. Unfortunately, Leeza Gibbons had already gone home.

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