Stacy Carr made a final adjustment to the map of seating arrangements perched in a corner of the Beverly Hilton lobby Tuesday night. With a move of a magnet, she changed the course of one guest's evening, moving him from table 42 to 14.
Part strategist, diplomat and entertainment historian, Carr studied her work: seating 790 VIPs with fragile egos, creating what would be the geography of the evening at Clive Davis' legendary pre-Grammy party.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 2, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Party site--The location of the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party was incorrect in Thursday's City of Angles column. The party was held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
At table 30 would be Marion and Barbara Davis, Jackie Collins, Dick Clark, Les Moonves plus his unspecified guest. At 31, the host would sit next to Danielle Steel and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. At 32, Ahmet Ertegun, Quincy Jones and Naomi Campbell. Here was an obvious constellation: Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. At 48 would be Kid Rock and Pam Anderson, sharing their table with Tobey Maguire.
Rod Stewart would get the pleasure of Natalie Cole's company, and vice versa. Burt Bacharach and Barry Manilow could swap anecdotes, as could Dr. Dre and Wesley Snipes. Nearby, Chris Tucker and Chris Rock could compare material.
Seating, said Carr, who's created Davis' party coordinates for a decade, "is like putting together a puzzle." "Truly," she added, "there are no bad tables."
The pre-dinner cocktail hour got under way.
There was songwriter and socialite Denise Rich, batting sparkly blue eyelids, sipping a red drink.
"I love Clive," she gushed. "He's family ....He's the first person I call when I have problems."
Word began to circulate--Clive is here, Mr. Davis has arrived--and the crowd got impenetrable.
Some sought refuge on the balcony, with a smoke or a cell phone. There was Tim Curry with his Marlboro Reds. Ryan Adams, without cigarettes, was bumming them. "It's a good scene," he joked. "The kids are looking good."
Certainly, Tony Bennett looked suave. "It gets a little lonely on the road," he said, explaining why he was partying with his peers.
The crowd parted for Tony Curtis and his Stetson, though not everyone recognized the actor. "Who is that guy?" a young man asked his blond companion, who set him straight.
Nearby, a group of people, including Slash and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, waited for an audience with Davis, who was wearing his trademark tinted glasses and leaning in close to whisper in people's ears. "The secret to a good party is to honor creativity," he whispered. And of course make everyone feel special.
Downstairs, guests circulated. Everyone paid homage at table 19 where Alicia Keys, the sensation of last year's party, was sitting. A photographer gently pushed Snipes aside to shoot the Grammy-nominated singer.
Then, close to 10 p.m., guests took the seats assigned by Carr, listening for the next Alicia, and putting Carr's "no bad tables" maxim to the test.
Tale of a Vanilla Sky
As Cameron Crowe describes his first meeting with Paul McCartney, he acquires the exuberance of a teenager. "I sort of walked next to him through the hallway, here, down to the editing room," Crowe says Monday afternoon in his Santa Monica office. "People kind of turned and did the double, triple, quadruple take, not believing what they were seeing. It was insane!"
At the time, Crowe was hoping McCartney would write a song for his film "Vanilla Sky." He showed McCartney 40 minutes of the film, then visited him at his recording studio. The plan was for Crowe to follow a car driven by McCartney's friends. "Here's the greatest part," Crowe says. "He said, 'If you get lost, just look for the yellow car. The PT Cruiser. We call it the yellow submarine.'" Crowe then mimes his reaction: a silent expression of disbelief, his mouth agape.
Crowe listened to several songs but didn't hear the acoustic track he wanted for his film. "I said, 'This is really great, but ... if anything comes to you in the next few days and you feel like writing a folk song, you know I would be honored,'" Crowe says. "And I'm looking around the room and guys are looking at me like--" Crowe furrows his brow--"'He's just played you his new stuff, man! And you're telling him you want something new?'"
His assertiveness paid off. Four days later, McCartney called to say he'd written "Vanilla Sky," which earned him his first Oscar nomination since the one he received for 1973's "Live and Let Die."
Much later, McCartney called to make sure Crowe really liked the song. McCartney told him he wouldn't have hard feelings if the answer was no--he would just rename it "Manila Envelope."
"No, no, no," Crowe told him. "It's 'Vanilla Sky.' And that was that. It's amazing."