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L.A.'s Party Planners Could Take Some Cues from Oscars Hoopla

March 28, 2000|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If Mayor Richard Riordan had harnessed just a fraction of the energy unleashed on the annual Oscar brouhaha, L.A. could have knocked the socks off the rest of the world with its millennium celebration. Remember when there was just an Oscar night party? Next came Oscar week, then Oscar month. If you've driven down a residential street in Beverly Hills on any given evening in recent weeks, you've probably encountered a platoon of parking jockeys shagging cars at yet another Rolodex fete for a best something-or-other nominee. The caveat is don't leave your vehicle for a moment during pre-Oscar madness or a valet might park it.

"The interesting thing about this ritual is it's all the same people," says veteran Tinseltown publicist Dale Olson, "and they say the same things. They're at the pre [parties] and the posts; only the tense changes. You'd be surprised if I told you the major names who call and ask me to find a ticket to the Vanity Fair, Miramax, DreamWorks or Elton John bashes."

This year, the Brits got on the social bandwagon. Edward Asprey of Asprey & Garrard, jewelers to the crown since Queen Victoria's time--they made the rings for royal brides Diana, Sarah and Sophie--hosted his first pre-Oscar durbar at the Hotel Bel-Air last week to honor the British stars slated to appear at the ceremonies. Robert Procop, chief executive of Asprey and a third-generation Angeleno, saw to it that the evening--at $500 a person--served a worthy purpose: support for the House of Ruth, a West Los Angeles shelter for homeless women and their children.

More than 150 guests, including a bevy of dolly birds in scanty slip-dresses, turned out for the event, which started with cocktails in the nippy garden air followed by dinner in the Pavilion Room, where the '80s rock band Styx performed. Spotted in the crowd were Ron Burkle, Nia Roberts, Sheryl Crown, Jane Seymour and Consul General Paul Dimond, who said he'd just paid a visit to Seymour to tell her she's on the queen's birthday honors list. "Tears streamed down my 85-year-old mother's cheeks when I told her we're going to Buckingham Palace," Seymour said.

Asprey says he plans to make the party an annual event. "There's fascination with royalty, and so what better connection than the Crown Jeweller of England and the royalty of Hollywood."

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Members of the Blue Ribbon of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Dorothy B. Chandler Children's Festival. The annual festival, set for April 11-14, brings more than 22,000 fifth-graders to a performance at the center--many for the first time. To ensure its future, Blue Ribbon President Joni Smith established an endowment fund in 1998 with a goal of $3 million to be achieved by June 30. Smith and Blue Ribboneers Brindell Gottlieb and Harriet Hochman enlisted L.A.'s newest "hot properties," a coterie of its brightest women chefs who put their toques together for a recent fund-raiser at Santa Monica's Museum of Flying.

"This event is unique because it's a first-time collaboration for an all-women culinary team, but it's also to honor all the women who have worked on the festival over the years," Smith said. "We're close to our goal, with $2.7 million cash, plus an additional $2 million in planned giving." Who said "too many cooks spoil the broth?" It must have been a guy.

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The California Club in downtown Los Angeles was transformed into a lavish all-white garden scene for Thursday's posh black-tie dinner dance marking the 25th anniversary of the Luminaires, the premier support group of the Doheny Eye Institute. Spring blooms cascaded from tall silver pedestals on each table, where more than 250 guests dined on lobster mousse, medallions of veal and humongous strawberries in icing "tuxedos."

Following dinner, singer Michael Connor entertained with his nostalgic cabaret show, "Through the Years." This one broke all records," said chairwoman Betsy Ulf. "We raised more than $100,000."

Patt Diroll can be reached at pattdiroll@earthlink.net.

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