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THE OSCARS / 76TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS | SOCIAL CLIMES

No losers in sight

On Hollywood's party night of the year, we rub elbows with the giddy and the glamorous. Mmm, the martinis. Aaahh, 10,000 roses. But watch out for the moss balls.

March 02, 2004|Hilary E. MacGregor | Times Staff Writer

The giddiness is tangible. The crush of celebrity so ... so ... crushing. The winners are swinging their little gold statues and kissing them as they waltz under the microphones and past the TV cameras into the Governors Ball, the first stop on the post-Oscar social circuit.

Journalists swarm the victors to ask those horrible gushing questions the whole world wants to know. "How do you feel?" ("So happy!") "Where will you put it?" ("Oh, I don't know yet," Renee Zellweger says demurely.) "What was the happiest moment of your night?" ("Winning. That would be, winning," says Charlize Theron.) Inside, the Kodak Theatre's grand ballroom is discreetly lighted by a thousand chandeliers, and the air is scented with 10,000 roses. Curtains hang from huge mirrors shaped like windows, so everyone can stargaze at themselves.

Sean Penn shakes hands reverently with Blake Edwards, who has his hand on the back of wife Julie Andrews' chair. Table 139 is laden with Oscars. Must be some of the "Lord of the Rings" family. They could pool their trove of little gold men, melt them down and pay off the debt of Argentina after tonight.

Well, while you chat over your lobster and filet mignon, we have parties to go to. Ta-ta.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday March 03, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Academy Award parties -- A photograph of Adrien Brody and Peter Jackson, accompanying an article in Tuesday's Calendar section about post-ceremony parties, was incorrectly credited to Michael Caulfield of WireImage. It was taken by Los Angeles Times photographer Gary Friedman.

We walk out with Roy Disney. A shareholder walks up. "I'm withholding my votes," he says. "Thank you," says Disney. "We're going to win."

In the elevator, Tim Robbins holds his Oscar while his family crowds around.

"Is this your first?" asks Sir Ian McKellen.

"The first of many," Susan Sarandon breaks in. "What we want to do is a movie with me and Robin [Wright-Penn] so we can both be nominated and if we win Sean can give it to Robin and Tim can give it to me."

"It's going to be a story about a tortured soul," chimes in one of their sons.

Down on Highland Avenue, the hoi polloi roars from behind barricades. The stretch limos slide by, swallowing the stars and whisking them off to...

Next stop, the Elton John/InStyle party in West Hollywood. The music idol of a generation is holding his 12th annual post-Oscar party to raise money for his AIDS foundation. By 10:30 the event breaks the million-dollar mark, a record.

Women with headsets whisk us inside. Bamboo climbs the walls, balls of moss sit on bamboo tables and guests lounge on low green banquettes sipping green apple martinis. "This Joss Stone is really amazing," says Sir Elton John, dressed in a red silk tux shirt and tails by Yohji Yamamoto. No rhinestone platform shoes these days, but L-O-V-E sparkles on his lapel. "I was 41 when she was born. A 16-year-old girl who knows all these soul songs!"

In comes Phil Collins. And the Osbournes.

A little past 11, the young British sensation takes the stage to perform with the rock legend. "Please. Raise the roof for Joss Stone," John says. And we do.

"Hi," says the pretty lass with the wavy blond hair of a Botticelli angel. Then she opens her mouth and unleashes a voice so deep, powerful and unexpected that it sounds like she's channeling Aretha Franklin. Spine-tingling!

They finish, and hug. She's 16 again. "I can't believe that just happened," she says. She looks like she really can't.

It's going to be hard to top that, but it's onward to the Vanity Fair party. There's a shuttle for the stars, but we clatter down the block, dodging the stretch limos and cops on motorcycles. We are heading for the lights, the screams, the irresistible pull of Morton's restaurant.

This is the sanctum sanctorum of celebrity. Getting in is like going through security at LAX. Here is the woman with The List. She reviews the rules. No notebooks. No pens. No tape recorders. Just stargazing. Could we do anything else? The buzz of so many famous, beautiful, diamond-draped people is more intoxicating than sipping Veuve Clicquot from an oversized champagne glass.

The stars aren't under the lights here, or in front of the cameras; they are pressing up against you, touching you, in their strapless designer gowns and silk-lapeled tuxedos. Faye Dunaway squeezes by, a caress on the shoulder. God, she's breathtaking. And a boyishly beguiling Ewan McGregor taps impatiently behind. Omigish. It's celebrity gridlock, Meg Ryan pressing in on the left, Naomi Watts on the right. "I'm stuck!" says Laura Dern. And we are.

Nicole Kidman is an ethereal vision -- if the wind blew, she might just float away. She collapses on a white sofa. "My feet are killing me," she says.

Waiters navigate the crowd with white-cheese pizza and bite-size burgers. After his run-in with the Mayor of New York City, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter seems to be on a one-man crusade to bring back smoking. Waiters dispense gold-tipped cigarettes, and cigars sit in neat lines at the bar. For nonsmokers there are Lucy Liu lollipops.

Director Robert Rodriguez is locked in an embrace with Uma Thurman that seems to go on forever. Could she be the most beautiful woman on the planet? From under his cowboy hat he whispers in her ear. "Whatever!" she says, just like you and me. Only she's not.Tom Hanks is over in the corner chatting up the girls from the In-N-Out Burger stand, making them giggle. "He just asked us how many distribution trucks we have and stuff," said one. "It was cool."

John Waters is chatting with Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Costello looks so happy it could break an old fan's heart. Will he ever sing those sad, sweet love songs again?

Well, time is up. Mere mortals get just an hour here. There is only so much wattage one can absorb, anyway. Hold on -- let's just grab a cookie imprinted with Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Aniston and Diane Lane on the way out the door. A sweet celebrity souvenir.

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