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Partying With Oscar : GOVERNORS BALL : On Hollywood's Biggest Night, Academy Throws One Big Bash


After an evening of expected winners, the Motion Picture Academy's Board of Governors Ball was an unexpectedly lavish affair.

A white tent at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion entrance covered almost an acre of the Music Center plaza. Done in a Victorian ballroom motif by Entertainment Lighting Services, the interior featured a drop ceiling with gold and blue floral designs, 600 lavender and pink lights, gold carpeting, a 15-piece big band and a 12-foot-high video wall beaming commercial-free Oscar highlights.

A ballpark figure on the cost of an extravaganza like this: $500,000.

"This looks like the wedding my wife wishes I gave her," said Columbia exec Mark Gill.

All that well-lit canvas served as a vivid backdrop for an hour of intense schmoozing before the stars among the 1,650 guests began filtering off to other parties.

Among them was double nominee Emma Thompson, at a table with Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise and Peter Guber. Thompson said she wasn't depressed over not taking home an Oscar because, "I'm 34, I'm from England and I'm not stupid."

Bruce Springsteen was still awed by the standing ovation he received along with his best original song award.

"The response I got from the crowd really meant a lot to me," the singer-songwriter said. "I never expected to find myself here."

Nearby was presenter Rosie O'Donnell, wearing a $550,000 diamond necklace on 24-hour loan from Harry Winston. "What I keep thinking about," she said touching the gems, "is I could buy 25 really nice homes in Indiana with this."

Janet Jackson said she'd remember two things about the evening: losing, and meeting Al Pacino.

And Kenneth Branagh said what most impressed him at the 66th Oscars was "that wee kid, the edible girl"--Anna Paquin, 11, who won best supporting actress. She was nowhere to be seen.

Best supporting actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio said he felt "tipsy from adrenaline" and asked for directions to Morton's. Steven Spielberg arrived with an Oscar in each hand and a pack of admirers.

Near the elevated tables on the fountain platform, Sharon Stone approached "The Remains of the Day" producer Ismail Merchant and said: "I'm an admirer of yours. I'd like to work with you."

Merchant smiled and said he would like to work with her as well.

Asked what Merchant-Ivory, best known for period pieces such as "Howards End," would do with an actress best known for "Basic Instinct," the producer said, "We could find something. Perhaps a Henry James novel."

The academy has a ballroom-size tent that would be perfect for the production.

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