The time leading up to Thanksgiving has been jam-packed with parties, galas, awards ceremonies and more, as Hollywood types mostly jockey for position with the people who vote on awards. Those folks range from Academy members to the guilds (Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, etc.) who honor their own, all the way to the Critics Choice Association, the largest group of working Hollywood journalists in the world. Even the Golden Globes is back in 2023, but time will tell if any actual stars attend that show. It’s all going to be interesting as the best of 2022 voting is almost upon us. And “Avatar: The Way of Water” hasn’t even come out of the blocks yet!
Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy, Los Angeles
The really hot ticket in town was so hot that none of the invitees could bring a guest, despite the fact that the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater boasts 1,010 seats. The event? The very first screening of Damian Chazelle’s “Babylon,” his homage to the decadent days of Hollywood’s beginnings in the Roaring ’20s. Not only was every seat taken, not a soul moved after the three-hour flick unspooled.
Chazelle brought his cast, too, including Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Lukas Haas, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li to discuss the wild epic that Chazelle brings to theaters just in time for Academy Awards consideration. Margot Robbie is at the center of the story as Nellie LaRoy, and Nellie is truly a hot mess.
“I love her so much, but she’s so exhausting. She took everything from me. She demanded everything from me!” Robbie said. The film engendered all sorts of reactions as the starving crowd descended on the lobby to eat dessert (the screening started at 6:30 p.m., so the only people who had had dinner beforehand went for the early-bird special) at the post-reception. Some loved the film, some hated it, but everyone agreed on one thing: We needed some real food!
El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood
Jennifer Lee, the Oscar-winning producer of “Frozen,” brought “Strange World,” her newest Disney animated feature to Hollywood for a gala premiere at the El Capitan Theatre. This one follows the Clades, a family of adventurers who find themselves in some very strange situations – situations that could only be created in an animated world.
Gabrielle Union and Jake Gyllenhaal are the vocal stars, along with Lucy Liu, Dennis Quaid and our favorite “Resident Alien,” Alan Tudyk. All lend their voices to this imaginative fantasy that subtly celebrates diversity.
“I was so moved by it,” Gyllenhaal told TheWrap. “I mean, Disney Animation is always about myths, about communicating to us, something that is a very, very big idea. And to me, this story was about three generations of a family, thinking they knew what was right for each other, and not really listening to each other, because they thought they knew it was right. And having to come to terms with just sitting down and listening and learning that what they wanted for that generation is maybe not what that generation wanted. And when they did that, they were able to save the world. And I love that idea.”
The premiere was packed with little kids, including Kavia Wade, Gabrielle Union’s 4-year-old daughter with Dwyane Wade. They were among the many families happily chattering — as the parents realized that they may see “Strange World” 100 more times in their living rooms! – Red-carpet reporting by Elijah Gil
El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood
It was a magical night in the heart of Hollywood at the premiere of the new Disney+ original film “Disenchanted.” Held at Disney’s iconic El Capitan Theatre, the movie marks the long-awaited sequel to the highly acclaimed “Enchanted,” which came out way back in 2007.
You might think that Amy Adams knows the right spell to staying youthful, returning to the role that helped make her a star 15 years ago; and she certainly cast a spell over the gaggle of Disney fans on hand, all decked out in their best prince/princess costumes. “It was wonderful [to return to the ‘Enchanted’ world], these are people and characters that I have been so fond of, so to get to revisit them after all this time is thrilling,” Adams told TheWrap.
Idina Menzel, who also leant her voice to the original fantasy, told us that singing in the sequel was quite the thrill. “It’s so amazing, I love the song so much and I love the message,” she gushed.
Maya Rudolph, who joined the cast for the sequel, revealed her take on the movie’s message: “It doesn’t pay to be mean! I think we’ve all figured that part out, we need to realize that perfect isn’t exactly what you think it’s going to be, sometimes you have to let things be the way they are going to be instead of trying to control them.”
Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden also return to “Disenchanted,” which hit Disney+ just in time for a post-Thanksgiving-dinner family showing at home. – Red-carpet reporting by Elijah Gil
Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy, Los Angeles
Women ruled the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of “Women Talking,” the dark drama from director Sarah Polley that has been taking film festivals by storm throughout the fall season. The film finally arrived at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater to the evident delight of most of the cast (although we’re still waiting to see Rooney Mara crack a smile for the camera), which includes a vast range of female actors.
Four-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand joined the gang of gals, along with two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey, two-time Emmy winner Claire Foy and most of the other women in the cast – Kate Hallett, Liv McNeil, Dede Gardner, Shayla Brown, Michelle McLeod, August Winter, Sheila McCarthy and Kira Guloien. And you’ve gotta just love Ben Whishaw, the lone male star who added his testosterone to the crowd for good measure.
“I imagined this film in the realm of a fable,” Polley said. “I wanted to feel in every frame the endless potential and possibility contained in a conversation about how to remake a broken world.”
The Critics Choice Association’s 2nd Annual Celebration of Latino Cinema and Television
Fairmont Century Plaza, Century City
Love for all things Latino flowed from the ballroom at the Fairmont Century Plaza as The Critics Choice Association celebrated the Latino community’s contributions to cinema and television, both in the United States and around the world. This second annual event brought out luminaries in front of and behind the cameras, including two of the world’s most famous Oscar-winning directors, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, who came early and stayed late (as did the capacity crowd).
“We Latins, we have to keep our ambitions,” del Toro exhorted the cheering crowd as he accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award. “We should be ambitious, we should be fierce and we should be disobedient about the things they tell us we cannot be or cannot do!”
The room was brimming with Latin talent, with new faces on the scene like “Ted Lasso” breakout star Cristo Fernández, who accepted the Rising Star for Television Award with the same ebullient excitement he brings to his role as Dani Rojas in the show, as well as Breakthrough Actor for Television Award winner Ismael Cruz Córdova, the Afro-Latino actor whose work as the Elf Arondir in “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” has brought him worldwide attention — not all of which has been positive.
“Since the moment my casting was announced [in “Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power], I have been viciously and consistently attacked with the most vile and painful racism,” Cordova emotionally revealed. “So what is an award when you wake up every day and you are bombarded by violence online, with people saying that your skin color has ruined their favorite childhood books. I have even received death threats. So what is an award? An award is a hand on my shoulder telling me, ‘I’ve got you.’ This award is like a hug, in those moments that I feel I cannot carry on.”
Inequality in casting was front and center all night, but so was the joy felt throughout the room as the accolades continued for performers including Laz Alonso, Jenna Ortega, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Brandon Perea, Gina Torres and more. Presenters who joined the celebration ranged from Luis Guzmán and Jordan Peele to Constance Marie and Benito Martinez, and Justina Machado handled hosting the event with verve.
Netflix TV Celebration
Netflix Epic Building, Los Angeles
Netflix hosted an evening cocktail event called “Conversations & Cocktails” that was coupled with two 20-minute Q&A conversations, featuring Niecy Nash-Betts, who stars in the hit series “Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story,” and Mohammed “Mo” Amer, who leads the Houston-based Netflix’s series “Mo.”
A sizable crowd gathered for preshow cocktails and appetizers at Netflix’s Roma Theater, most buzzing about having already watched the disturbing Dahmer series. As everyone settled into the theater, a sizzle reel of Netflix’s current and incoming fall shows and films unspooled, then it was time for a look at “Mo” through the eyes of its star.
The show details the life happenings and challenges of a Palestinian refugee on a mission to obtain U.S. citizenship while taking up asylum in Texas. In a wide-ranging conversation, Amer spoke on his motivation behind the show, his background as a Palestinian refugee and what he hopes for the show’s future. “I want to push this character as much as possible,” he said. “You know you think rock bottom is there where he’s stuck where he is, but I just want to dig deep. I want to see how far I can take it in my acting and what I can do and what I can pull off in my abilities and I just want to push [Mo] as hard as possible.”
The second portion of the evening spotlighted “Dahmer-Monster,” which stars Evan Peters, Richard Jenkins, Penelope Ann Miller, Molly Ringwald and Nash-Betts, who kept the audience rapt with her memories of diving deep into a show about the real-life serial killer. Nash-Betts shared the most challenging and exciting scene from the shoot. “The day that I had in my mind, from the beginning of reading the script, was when Jeff Dahmer comes into Glenda’s apartment with the sandwich. My emotions were double-dipping on me because I had anxiety and excitement,” Nash said. “It was really the first time Glenda had a confrontation with [Dahmer]. So, it was that face-to-face [that really got me].” – Raquel Harris
Friendly House 32nd Annual Awards Luncheon
Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills
Friendly House’s fundraising luncheon was a fun-filled and lighthearted event that put a powerful spotlight on a serious subject, the struggles that come from addiction, especially for women and BIPOC women. The nonprofit residential program for women battling addiction was created over 70 years ago by women, for women.
Comedian Caroline Rhea hosted the glittery afternoon confidently, and blamed her casual attire on flight delays. While her cocktail dress was stuck in a suitcase, she looked adorable and kept the awards show right on track.
Famed songwriter and actor Paul Williams gave a sweet and vulnerable speech, discussing his own struggles with addiction and the healing power of music as he accepted his “Person of the Year” Award. The 82-year-old Oscar winner is still going strong and was visibly moved as singer-actress Lisa Loeb and composer Eve Nelson performed Williams’ classic tune “Rainbow Connection,” to the delight of the audience, which included Saffron Burrows, Erika Jayne, Kevin Kreider and honorees Dina LaPolt, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross and Rika Broccoli.
Attending virtually were two well-known faces who have both confronted and conquered their substance addictions, actors Russell Brandt and Cheryl Burke, received the group’s “Shining Star” Award. – Elijah Gil
DreamWorks Animation Holiday Party
Sunset Tower Hotel, West Hollywood
“Killing It” star Craig Robinson held court during the “The Bad Guys”/”Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” DreamWorks Animation Holiday Party at Hollywood’s Sunset Towers Hotel. Robinson, who plays Shark in “The Bad Guys“, told producer Rebecca Huntley that normally he wouldn’t be able to attend, but that he had some unexpected time off since Stephanie Nogueras, who plays his wife on “Killing It,” was having her baby this week.
“I’m in work mode right now,” Robinson told TheWrap. “So I’m used to going to bed early and getting up early. I don’t go out. I have the week off now and don’t know what to do with myself, so I guess they threw the party just for me!”
And a big party it was, for it didn’t take long for the Terrace Room to be jumping with animation creators and lovers of all sorts. Marc Maron (who voices Snake in “The Bad Guys”) dashed in and gave hugs to director Pierre Perifel before he whisked Robinson along, heading across the street to his show at The Comedy Store.
“The Bad Guys” director Perifel used his own personal experiences within the animated feature, which was recorded and animated during the COVID pandemic. “The film has everything in it that I want to do, but can’t, in real life. Drive fast cars and rob banks,” he said with a chuckle. “I went through a divorce while making this film, and I hope I capture the feeling I had of leaving friends and family behind while building a new life.”
There was a silver lining to making an animated comedy crime thriller during the pandemic, however. “Because of COVID, Sam Rockwell and Marc Maron could do overlapping dialogue, which you don’t normally do in animation. Since they were both in their own home studios, we could capture both voices simultaneously,” Perifel explained. “Sam and Marc are already friends, so they were able to really deepen the relationship between Wolf and Snake, and capture both the sense of betrayal and the eternal strength of their friendship.”
While animation pros gathered in familiar circles, producer Kenn Viselman told us about his new project, “MeteoHeroes.” “Children ages 4 to 10 are very concerned about climate change, the health of the planet, our water and air, so we have developed an action-hero team based on meteorology. It’s an entertainment, learning and activity program on an important and urgent concern that kids want to do something about,” the man behind “Teletubbies” explained. We think he’s got another hit idea on his hands with that one.
“Elvis” Special Screening
Hollywood Legion Theater, Hollywood
“Elvis” was in two buildings in one night recently, as Priscilla Presley, the King’s ex-wife and keeper of his estate, hosted an intimate party at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills for director Baz Luhrmann, star Austin Butler and other key players involved in the film.
Then it was on to the Hollywood Legion Theater, where Luhrmann and Butler led an awards-season screening and discussion in front of a crowded house. The two were joined onstage by producer Gail Berman, cinematographer Mandy Walker, editor Jonathan Redmond and re-recording mixers Andy Nelson and Michael Keller, as Warner Bros. hopes that the movie will be nominated for many categories come Oscar time. No sign of Tom Hanks, who creepily plays Colonel Parker in “Elvis,” but he was surely there in spirit, as was The King (we like to think).
Butler really does channel Elvis Presley’s spirit in the film, Luhrmann told the audience, praising “the level of Austin’s performance, in not only absorbing all of the details, but also melding his inner soul with Elvis.”
Amazon Studios, Culver City
“The English” stars Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer brought their wild new Western series to Amazon Studios in Culver City for a special big-screen showing in that relatively new studio’s classic DeMille screening room. Set in the late 1800s in the Oklahoma territory, it’s a tale of revenge, love and violence, which is exactly why Blunt wanted to not only star, but to produce it as well.
“I’ve never been more in love with anyone that I played before,” she explained in a conversation after the showing of the first episode. “I just thought she’s extraordinary and surprising. And hard to pin down as all human beings are. I mean, the hope [in my work] is to keep trying to carve out new space for myself. What I want is to be challenged and mystified by someone when you first read them [in a script], and then figure out a way to understand them. I want that; I want to be a bit mystified at first and be pulled in and slowly unfold this person until I know her so deeply.”
“I love all of it,” Blunt added, noting that she got her first executive producer credit on the project — and dove into the challenge. “I love the editing, I love the color timing. The score. Everything. I’m sweating every frame. I love all of it!”
Later, at the afternoon garden reception, co-star Chaske Spencer was confounded when we told him that Amazon Studios was once Ince Studios, one of the very first movie studios to exist, and that much of Hollywood’s history was made right in the heart of Culver City, including “The Wizard of Oz,” shot at nearby MGM Studios back in the day. “I love old Hollywood,” the actor of Lakota descent exclaimed. “The ’30s and the ’40s, especially. I’m going to have to find out more about what happened around here!”
“Family Guy 400”
Fox Studios, Century City
It was a night to remember on the Fox Studios lot as the 400th episode of “Family Guy” took over the party lawn. Beginning with creator Seth MacFarlane’s signature big band, leading the way with variety of Top 40 hits and rolling on with ice sculptures and flowing vodka, the celebration was a classic Hollywood bash. Mila Kunis, who’s voiced Meg Griffin since 1999, expressed the general feeling when she told TheWrap: “I can’t believe we’re here, this just seems surreal!”
MacFarlane joked about getting to the 400th celebration (and 21 seasons). “Yeah, I never thought I’d be here, especially after they tried to cancel us me so many times!” he said. “But look at us now.”
We asked Seth MacFarlane the burning question of the night – has he ever sent someone a meme or GIF of Peter, his character in the show? “No, I think that might be pretty tacky,” he responded, while cracking up. “I once had a celebrity send a GIF of themselves to me and I thought it was the tackiest thing ever!”
Longtime cast members Alex Borstein, Seth Green and Arif Zahir joined in the revelry, with the happy evening culminating in a duo between Seth and Alex, singing the show’s theme song, much to the delight of the crowd. It was the perfect way to celebrate an incredible accomplishment. – Elijah Gil
36th Annual American Cinematheque Awards
Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills
It was a joyous night at the 36th Annual American Cinematheque Awards, which honored Ryan Reynolds and producer Jason Blum. (The fundraiser supports the nonprofit’s year-round film programming at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, the Los Feliz 3 Theatre in Los Feliz, and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.)
Blum began the evening by stepping up as the recipient of the American Cinematheque Power of Cinema Award, presented to him by Donna Langley, the Universal Studios Filmed Entertainment head honcho.
“It’s such a surreal honor, sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve it,” Blum told TheWrap a earlier in the evening, then added a plug for his upcoming Blumhouse film, “M3GAN,” produced with future business partner James Wan. “We met 15 years ago on ‘Insidious,’ I got a front seat look at how talented he is and I’ve always wanted to formalize a relationship with him and we finally came up with an idea that worked and I’m really excited about what’s to come.”
The rest of the laugh-filled evening was dedicated to Ryan Reynolds, who received the American Cinematheque Award for his impressive career both in front of and behind the camera. So many of his pals showed up it was like old home week, with co-stars and friends like Will Ferrell, Nathan Fillion, Mary Steenburgen, Shawn Levy and Rob McElhenney taking the stage to honor (and skewer) the star.
Octavia Spencer and Reynolds’ very pregnant wife, Blake Lively, added to the general mayhem, as Lively exhorted the crowd stand up as the Canadian national anthem played, reminding everyone that Canada is Ryan’s birthplace. By the time Ryan took the stage to remind the cheering audience how grateful he was for those in his life, especially his wife and kids, everyone had a warm and fuzzy glow for the guy next door who’s made it big in Hollywood. – Elijah Gil
Equality Now 30th Anniversary Gala
Guastavino’s, New York
Equality Now brought together some of the world’s most iconic feminists, including Gloria Steinem, the 88-year-old activist who is still at the forefront of protecting women’s rights, for a gala celebrating the organization’s 30th anniversary. Since 1992, the group has worked to protect and promote the rights of all women and girls around the world.
The gala celebrated that diversity, honoring people from “White Noise” actor Jodie Turner-Smith and filmmaker Paola Mendoza to author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. The room was packed with people (both female and male) dedicated to changing the perception of girls and women in every culture. “Gender equality” were the words repeated most during the Gucci-sponsored gala that featured rousing performances by the Resistance Revival Chorus, rapper Felukah and singer-fire eater(!!) Sage Sovereign, as funds were raised via the party to help Equality Now to help make that idea a reality.
Please send event invitations to Jenny Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.