YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


First Was L.A. Casual, Then British Cool


The Scene: Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards in a white tent erected on a Santa Monica beach parking lot, followed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts annual tea party at the nearby Shutters hotel. The ISA honors indie filmmakers; BAFTA salutes Anglo and American Oscar nominees. The key difference is the indies have better T-shirts, the Brits have better hamts.

Who Was There: In the ISA audience were Muhammad Ali, Sean Penn, Jodie Foster, Billy Bob Thornton, Lily Tomlin, Queen Latifah, James Woods, Alfre Woodard, Russell Schwartz, Harvey Weinstein and Mark Gill; the starry part of BAFTA's crowd included Kristin Scott Thomas, Lynn Redgrave, Geoffrey Rush, Gabriel Byrne and Anthony Minghella.

Cultural Idiosyncrasies: At the ISA, John Hodge, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for "Trainspotting," said of the event, "If this was in Britain, we'd go out for a fortifying drink beforehand, consume three-quarters of a bottle of wine each at the ceremony, forget to eat lunch, then decamp to a pub for six hours before buying a kabob on the way home."

Dress Mode: "L.A. casual with attitude," is the way one woman described the ISA fashion. For BAFTA, it was English garden/weekend-in-the-country informal. In other words, Emporio Armani in the tent, Merchant Ivory at Shutters.

Best Reason for Coming: Neil Young's longtime motivation for attending glittery events--"It gives me a chance to look at my wife when she's dressed up."

Hollywood Wisdom: An industry veteran explained why the ISA's matter. "The specialized film world is driven by publicity, not advertising. So this kind of award is meaningful to them. In other words, it will make them money."

Quoted: "When I see the corporate sponsors and the goodie bags," said film critic Leonard Maltin at the Spirit Awards, "I can't help but think, 'Couldn't this finance a film?' "

Observed: When a Salman Rushdie look-alike sauntered by at the BAFTA party, Allan Rich, Oscar nominee for best song, said: "What a perfect place for him to hide-no one in Los Angeles reads."

Los Angeles Times Articles