Charlie Kaufman, the notoriously ill-at-ease Oscar-winning screenwriter, felt more uneasy than usual at the PEN USA Literary Awards Gala.
During Wednesday's dinner at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, David Mamet presented Gore Vidal with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Freedom to Write International Award went to a Bangladeshi writer who'd been jailed for his words. Journalist Meredith May, another honoree, spoke of her story about an Iraqi boy mutilated by a cluster bomb he'd thought was a ball. And "Generation Kill" author Evan Wright, who received the research nonfiction award, spoke for the tens of thousands of dead and injured civilians in Iraq.
When Kaufman accepted the award for his screenplay, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," he recalled getting a PEN USA award for "Adaptation." "I remember sitting here that night, listening to accomplished writers talk about profound, meaningful things, and thinking, 'What am I doing here?' So when I got up onstage, I admitted, 'I don't know what I'm doing here,' and when I stepped down, the host, Michael York, made fun of me, saying, 'I knew we should have gotten your brother, Donald.' "
"So here I am again tonight winning for this stupid little screenplay with nothing in it about protesting anything except erasing people from your memory. So, yeah!" Kaufman exclaimed, raising his award defiantly in the air, "Stop memory erasing!"
Messing takes red carpet seriously
Ever wonder how it feels to walk the red carpet at an awards show? Great! Kinda.
"Comedy Awards in 2001 when I was nominated for best actress," said Debra Messing, wearing a Jennifer Nicholson silk B&W frock and Stephen Dweck jewelry at the VIP pre-party for the Cure Autism Now Gala at the Beverly Regent Hotel. "The carpet is something no one can prepare you for.
"It's obviously a dream come true and such an honor, but there's tremendous pressure to look good; you get ready for hours and have that long limo ride. And I was totally disarmed by the sheer number of people on the carpet. Then there's the lights, those flashbulbs going off and blinding you, plus the volume, people screaming and yelling at you. It really is an assault on the senses."
Messing has a fabulous stylist, Lori Eskowitz, also the costumer designer on "Will & Grace," who always helps her look smashing on the carpets.
Her Oscar pick: George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck." "I just loved it and was so struck by the performances, the history and the verbiage."
Sutherland's state secret revealed
Many people are wondering who Donald Sutherland's inspiration is for Nathan Templeton, the deliciously cold and ruthless power player he plays on ABC's hot new series "Commander in Chief."
Niccolo Machiavelli? Rasputin? How about Richard III? Dick Cheney? Maybe Karl Rove?
Think closer to Hollywood. I asked Sutherland about his inspiration at Saturday's AFI Fest 2005 party for his new film, "An American Haunting."
"Why, Catherine, of course," Sutherland replied, without missing a beat, referring to his sleek, stylish and sophisticated PMK publicist, Catherine Olim, hovering protectively nearby.
Will stylist Zoe turn a new page?
We hear that super-stylist Rachel Zoe, who dresses everyone who longs to be considered a trendsetter (Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan) isn't content with changing how young Hollywood dresses.
Now the skilled stylist may be dipping into editorial work. Zoe, who received Movieline's Hollywood Style Award a few months back, is rumored to be styling the cover for Movieline's Hollywood Life Oscar issue.
Sources whisper that the cover girl may be Kate Beckinsale. But wait, we're confused. Beckinsale doesn't have a film in the running for an Oscar. Beckinsale's "Underworld: Evolution" isn't skedded for release until Jan. 20. That's just too darn late for Oscar consideration.
But there's always 2007. Isn't it high time Oscar opened a best vampire warrior category?
Mr. Crystal, four months to curtain
Pssst. It's not even turkey gobbling time but we hear Billy Crystal has already been approached to host the Oscars in March. But, as a source close to Crystal says, "It would take a miracle" to get the comedian to host the Oscars next year because the funny man is really, really busy with his one-man touring show, "700 Sundays."
Elizabeth Snead writes "Styles & Scenes" as a blog for The Envelope (theenvelope.com), a new Times website devoted to Hollywood's awards season. She can be reached at elizabeth .firstname.lastname@example.org.