POLLYWOOD | COVERING OSCAR WEEK WAS LIKE BEING IN A FELLINI FILM ... SURREAL
By JANET DONOVAN
In a city where egos grow faster than weeds and speed refers to Lamborghinis, L.A. is a company town where the end often justifies the means while serving up glitz, glamour I and gossip. Hollywood is indeed I its own planet.
The hunt for A-list celebrities made The Hunt for Red October a pushover. Stars holed up in places closed to the public that included Sunset Boulevard's Chateau Marmont (best known for its Jim Morrison & John Belushi connection) and The Beverly Hills Hotel, where black stretch limos looked like the onset of a tornado. But if you valet your car, you ended up waiting on line next to the likes of Dame Judi Dench, nominated for Best-Actress in Mrs. Henderson Presents. Such was the case at The Four Seasons where the diminutive and unassuming actress graciously chatted with admirers and where Washington's perpetually interesting Ina Ginsburg was staying.
TO SEE AND BE SEEN... THAT IS THE QUEST
Party going A-listers were whisked in and out of events like a magic show: Now you see them, now you don't. Take the party at Sky Bar. While Best-Actor nominee Philip Seymour Hoffman mixed with Best-Supporting Actor nominee Matt Dillon, Washington regular Dennis Hopper and Tom Arnold talked shop.
The scene at The Reel Lounge in Aqua Restaurant was a dark and bottomless pit of revelers where you could have been chatting with Paris Hilton and not even know it. Washington lobbyist Eric Huey, who represents AFTRA, The Recording Artists Coalition and The Screen Actors Guild, handled meet-and-greet for up-and-coming actors including Hill Harper, Regina King and Annabeth Gish.
For those who had been there/done that, the civility level was elevated as was the case at The NIAF Gala where former MPAA President Jack Valenti escorted the late great Gregory Peck's widow Veronique and introduced 89 year-old Ernest Borgnine, winner of the 1955 Oscar for best actor in Marty.
The Italian contingent began festivities with a week-long film fest presented by Los Angeles Italia in conjunction with USC and the support of former Washingtonian Alex Ago. The after-party at Treseria found guests wedged between Italian Oscars 2006 Academy Award® nominees Cristina Comencini, Gabriella Pescucci, Dario Marianelli, The Italian Ambassador's wife Leila Castellaneta, Jacqueline Bisset and Franco Nero (in his trademark paparazzi-dodging sun glasses.)
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Lunch at The Grill on the Alley mirrored The Palm where name dropping is an art form. The Beverly Hills power spot bragged of hosting Senators Orin Hatch and Bill Frist. Even the maitre'd was the grandson of someone, in this case that of co-founder Rogers of definitive entertainment public relations firm Rogers & Cowan.
Over the "Hills" and into Soho House where stars collected nightly under the stars. An HOP spy spotted martially challenged Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie, dining with a handful of friends. They seemed quite comfortable together, so scratch the rumors for now. Others making their presence felt: Brits Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Sean Penn, Felicity Huffman and Paris Hilton.
Meanwhile, the loudening pitch at The Abbey fell into a deadly silence as best picture was announced. The AIDS benefit hosted by Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Esquire Magazine was the wrong place to be if you galvanized for Crash, as was the case close by where Elton John hosted his own party. Award show viewers in both venues were decidedly pulling for Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.
THE BLING FACTOR
Normally reserved for ostentatious hip hop jewelry and appliques on cell phones and ipods, there were lots of "human blings" trolling the scene. Lost In Translation? A human bling is one who plays hard, looks good and has the best of everything. An HOP friend had a bling in the form of actress Bai Ling which made him a Ling Bling accessory with all the ensuing accoutrements of A-list parties, red carpet strolls, eco-friendly transportation and front-row views of the $250,000 32-carat diamond cuff she was rumored to be wearing in her hair ... not to mention her other $400,000 dollars of gifted bling. Green cars, swag, D.C. A-listers, party crashers and diamonds ... To steal a line from Cindy Adams: "Only in LA Kids, only in LA."