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Oscar's Night Out | RSVP

Party Hopping, Never Stopping

March 26, 1997|BRIDGET BYRNE and BETTY GOODWIN and BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Aside from winning an Oscar, the most difficult task the glamorous hordes faced Monday night was choosing which post-ceremony party to attend.

The Governors Ball, chaired by Sid Ganis, has simplicity on its side. It's just a short step from the ceremony. As guests entered the Shrine's convention hall, they were greeted by "Earthly Paradise," Hiro Yamagata's lush floral artwork (originally painted on vintage Mercedes-Benzes) projected on a scrim that lowered the hall's cavernous ceiling.

The decor formed the backdrop against which Courtney Love danced with Edward Norton; Lauren Bacall, Glenn Close and Marianne Jean-Baptiste had a three-way conversation; and Geoffrey Rush enthusiastically partook of Wolfgang Puck's lamb and salmon entrees.

Billy Crystal, who had injured his arm when he fell during a rehearsal, was partying on, ignoring the pain because "I feel too good to worry about it on a great night when my mom got to see me host."

Though the welcoming atmosphere kept celebrities lingering longer than usual, the ball was definitely a first stop. James Woods said he was going to "every party until day breaks." And Norton, who like Woods didn't take home a best supporting actor Oscar, said "those of us who are sacrificial lambs should get into all the parties."

For those who left and headed for the corner of Robertson and Melrose, the first sight was of hundreds of orange traffic cones set in a complex pattern comprehensible only to the parking valets, an arrangement to prevent limo gridlock.

Once again, Vanity Fair magazine's Graydon Carter had taken over Mortons restaurant for a sit-down dinner and viewing of the Oscar ceremony--a show David Hockney found "longer than 'Tristan und Isolde' " and Mick Jagger called "tiring and fascinating." Barry Diller said he found the winners "slightly overly worthy."

The magazine's soiree is renowned for the wide spectrum of its 140-person guest list. It's not often Dolly Parton, Tim Allen, Kirk Kerkorian, Si Newhouse, Sir Ian McKellen, Jay Leno, Roger Corman, Barbara Davis, Ellen DeGeneres and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown dine in the same room. It's a sight Getty Center architect Richard Meier brought his New York-based daughter to see because "I wanted to show her this, even if it's not real."

The scene drew Fran Lebowitz, who'd never seen the Oscars in L.A., out from New York. "I've only seen it in bed on TV while eating pizza," the author said. "Which is what they should do here. Have a hundred Castro Convertibles, open them up and order in a hundred pizzas, all with anchovies."

Somehow Carter resisted this idea and stuck with tables, chairs and a striped sea bass entree. The furniture was removed immediately after the telecast to make room for a seemingly endless flow of guests, who included Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Will Smith, Madonna, George Plimpton, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Quentin Tarantino, Bette Midler, Mel Gibson, Roseanne, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Larry Flynt and Lauren Holly, who said husband Jim Carrey "has to say 32 million hellos" as she held his hand leading him through the crowd.

Across the street, Columbia TriStar had taken over Eclipse for a party whose central attraction was best supporting actor winner Cuba Gooding Jr. He was still buzzing from the show. "I felt like I was in the center of the ring; I heard the bell, I threw my best punch and I saw the light," he said.

Dennis Rodman saw the Hollywood hoopla in slightly less excited terms than most other guests. Said the Chicago Bulls star: "They do this once a year. In the NBA, every day of the playoffs is like this."

If the Oscar playoffs had a winner, it was Miramax, which took over the downstairs of the hipper-than-thou Mondrian Hotel and poured enough Dom Perignon to fill the pool in celebration of its "English Patient" victories.

"This feels fabulous," said Miramax's Harvey Weinstein for probably the 900th time as he arrived long after midnight. "I know it won't happen again in my lifetime."

Pontificating on the big wins, Bill Maher said cryptically that he had found an issue for his next "Politically Incorrect": " 'The English Patient' is the opposite of 'Casablanca,' but that's all I'm going to tell you."

The film apparently didn't have the same hold on director Adrian Lyne. He said, "Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of the Minghella movie . . . I forget what it's called. But I'm thrilled for Billy Bob Thornton."

Kristin Scott Thomas parked herself in a reserved booth to "rev up" for more parties. And the 7-year-old star of "Kolya," Andrej Chalimon, sobbed in his mother's arms, ready to hit the pillow.

He wasn't the only one ready to sleep. So was Jagger: "Last night was a party. Saturday night was a party. Friday night was a party. I'm going to bed."

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