VANITY FAIR'S cancellation of its legendary Oscar party dramatically changes the landscape of Hollywood's most glamorous evening for the first time in years.
When editor Graydon Carter threw his first Academy Awards viewing and post-party at Morton's in 1994, he wanted to inherit the uber-hosting mantle of the late talent agent Swifty Lazar. Instead, he did Swifty one better -- Carter practically eliminated the competition. Vanity Fair has been such a magnet for A-listers that studios don't even bother to compete anymore and throw pre-Oscar parties instead.
But this year, the 15-week writers strike quashed Vanity Fair's plans to celebrate the 80th annual Academy Awards on Sunday. Other high-powered Oscar parties that have been canceled include William Morris honcho Ed Limato's Friday-night-before, the Entertainment Weekly party, Hollywood hostess Dani Janssen's private awards evening festivities, and Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller's pre-Oscar lunch at their Coldwater Canyon home.
That leaves the adjoining Governors Ball, of course, which will feature a multi-leveled floor for bird's-eye A-list spotting. But Hollywood's who's-who won't stay there long, leaving the Elton John AIDS Foundation bash at the Pacific Design Center the clear winner for Oscar-night cachet. Last year, John's viewing dinner party was scaled down to a relatively restrained 600. This year, it may be hard to turn away the masses clutching little gold men. Here are other festivities on tap.
A toast to the kids
What: Children Uniting Nations and Billboard magazine's 9th annual awards celebration
Where: Beverly Hilton Hotel
When: Oscar viewing and post-award party
Who will be there: Stephen Dorff, Tracey Edmonds, Radha Mitchell, Esai Morales, Jane Seymour and Wilmer Valderrama
Spotlight: This is the music industry's Oscar bash, so that can only mean one thing: a rockin' post-award concert. Organizers are tight-lipped about which "top recording artists" to expect but last year brought out an eclectic mix that included L'il Kim, Lili Haydn, DMC, Tyler Hilton and "American Idol" winner Reuben Studdard.
Rocket Man's blast
What: Elton John AIDS Foundation's 16th annual Oscar party
Where: Pacific Design Center courtyard
When: Oscar viewing and post-party
Who: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Sharon Stone
Spotlight: Chef Renato Piccolotto from Cipriani in Venice returns with Wayne Elias of Crumble Catering and Mark's Restaurant to whip up a lavish six-course dinner for 700. Afterward, there will be a live performance -- the host does a couple of songs but the other artists haven't yet been announced. James Blunt was last year's after-dinner treat.
Warner family dinner
What: Warner Bros.' dinner party for Oscar nominees
Where: An undisclosed Los Angeles-area hotel
When: The Friday before the award ceremony
Who: Nominees George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street") and Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford")
Spotlight: This is a low-key but exclusive dinner party for nearly 200 studio honchos and friends. "We like to do something intimate," says Courtney Saylor, Warner Bros. vice president for special events. "Being nominated is a fantastic achievement. Why not celebrate that?"
The In crowd
What: InStyle magazine's Oscar-viewing party
When: During the show
Where: To be decided
Who: Young Hollywood. Last year's crop included Amy Adams, Hayden Panettiere, Aaron Eckhart, Kate Walsh and James Franco.
Spotlight: InStyle co-hosted the Elton John AIDS Foundation's mammoth dinner for 1,000 for nine years, but both events have downsized since going their separate ways in 2006. The magazine pulled out of John's fund-raiser because it had been limited to two tables and 20 people at the after party. Now InStyle's editors host a private party for 250 friends of the family.
What: Endeavor Talent Agency party for Oscar nominees
When: The Friday evening before the award ceremony
Where: Traditionally held at the Brentwood home of Endeavor founder Ari Emanuel. An agency spokesperson said the party would be held at an undisclosed public venue, but that could be a ploy to throw gawkers off the scent, especially when the word is agency partner Patrick Whitesell is hosting this time around. Tickets for the 2009 party, billed as placing the buyer "shoulder to shoulder with today's hottest A-listers at the private home of Ari and Sarah Emanuel in Brentwood, CA.," recently sold for $4,000 on charityfolks.com.
Spotlight: Last year's bash for 500 brought out clients Martin Scorsese, Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Wahlberg. This year is planned as an intimate celebration of the agency's nominated clients: Paul Thomas Anderson, Javier Bardem, Julie Christie, Viggo Mortensen, Tilda Swinton and the producers of "Juno" and "There Will Be Blood."
A good, clean time
What: Global Green USA's 5th annual award season celebration
When: The Wednesday before the Oscars