Somewhere between having my photo snapped by an Oscar-winning cinematographer on the way into the Governors Ball (thanks, Bob Richardson) and having my car towed at 2 a.m. after the Vanity Fair party, I remembered that yes — after all — this evening is kind of special.
Where else but the Governors Ball can you get Tony Bennett crooning “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to a couple of hundred moguls in black tie? (Tony, at 85, sounded amazing.)
At the bar, Michael Moore mopped his brow and said he was getting involved in the presidential election, but wouldn’t say how or where. Still, he is gamely fixing the arcane documentary rules at the Academy, which is good enough for me.
A few feet away, the group from “The Artist” gathered in a French-inflected winner’s circle. They kept passing around Michel Hazanavicius’s statue, holding it up close to see the engraving like they were reading an ancient Mayan message.
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Who could blame them for being giddy? Thomas Langmann, the producer, confessed to being in a “cloud,” which is only natural considering one of his previous claims to fame is “Asterix at the Olympic Games.” He gave a stirring speech about his father, Claude Berri, and was relieved to know (“Really?”) that it came off well in English. Yes it did.
The moguls milled about, with Disney’s CEO Bob Iger squiring his entire team – ABC’s Anne Sweeney, studio chief Rich Ross and the indomitable Zenia Mucha – through the ball. The newly-minted head of marketing, Ricky Strauss, lounged in a corner, blissfully ignoring the looming reality of “John Carter” in his life.
There were Oscar’s old hands. The aforesaid Bob Richardson won best cinematographer
for “Hugo,” but it’s hardly his first. He’s on his third statue – after “JFK” and “The Aviator.” He thought “Tree of Life” would win.
And even with the congratulatory hugs, the conversations always go: What’s next?
“The Descendants” co-star Shailene Woodley, who looked positively gorgeous in ecru couture, said she has no next project. She wants to wait until she finds a script that she really believes in. Smart girl.
JC Chandor, nominated for “Margin Call,” is moving full steam ahead on “All is Lost,” in which Robert Redford plays a man alone on the ocean, in a boat. “It’s an action drama,” he insisted, despite the title. Well it’s definitely no comedy. I called it “Castaway” meets “A Perfect Storm.” JC did not object. Lionsgate and Universal are behind it, and it’s about to start shooting.
“Descendants” screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Burke were urged (by me) to make movies more frequently. The Oscar each allowed that they intend to do so. Burke’s daughter had just flown in from the All-Star game in Orlando. He says they have a project called “Wilson.”
But Payne, who I caught up again with later at Vanity Fair (see photo), said that at age 51, he’s well aware he needs to step up the pace. And he said he wants to push ahead on a road movie about an older man and his son driving from Montana to Nebraska.
“The problem is casting,”he said. “It’s got to be right.” Also, he asked that’s all good screenplay ideas be sent his way.
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Enough of the Governor’s Ball. Over to the Weinstein party, where Ted Sarandos of Netflix and his wife, Nicole Avant, an outgoing ambassador to the Bahamas, were thrilled to say “The Artist” will be available on Netflix.
That party boiled down to a few hundred people trying to crowd into a tiny bar off the deck of the Mondrian hotel to snuggle up to Harvey Weinstein, Meryl Streep and – who’s that? – Prince Albert of Monaco?
Far more relaxed in an A-list kind of way was Vanity Fair, still the queen of Oscar parties, now at the Sunset Tower. There’s no substitute for seeing Michael Douglas nose to nose in conversation with Glenn Close in a corridor – “Fatal Attraction” redux.
This is always the toniest and most interesting mix of people – also the only place I know of in California where people smoke indoors – and this year differed only in that people kept ducking out to the hamburger truck at the curb. (Catering guys – enough with the deep-fried mac and cheese balls.)
Who’s there? Who isn’t? J.Lo in one corner. P.Diddy in the other, on his cellphone. Gwynnie (Paltrow) – still in cape – towering in the line for the ladies room. Un-famous people carrying Oscars, who own the night, after all.
There was much talk of the telecast and Billy Crystal and how he did. “Good, not great,” was the conventional wisdom from the Oscar cognoscenti. Perhaps that’s why Billy looked so downright miserable as he was ferried in and out of the parties with an entourage. (But everyone thought the Christopher Guest test screening bit was pure genius.)
Missing in action after the votes were counted were Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Perhaps they were in some quiet, cul de sac party of their own, so they wouldn’t have to watch photographers at Vanity Fair scream at Jean Dujardin: “Jean! Do a dance! Jump up and down!” as Harvey watched in amusement.
Their absence was noticed, and so was my car’s.
Maybe they’re the ones who towed it?