Recession or not, the Oscar party scene will be in full swing this weekend. Yes, the mood seems somewhat subdued, but all in all, events are shaping up to seem more festive than last year, when the dark cloud of the WGA strike caused Vanity Fair to cancel its soiree.
This year, few events have been called off. Instead, many party-givers have saved their money to focus on one main event, rather than a week of goings-on.
The Diamond Information Center has turned its three-day schedule of lunches and dinners into one day of festivities, for example. David Rodgers, who designed the DIC’s 60-person dinner with Julianne Moore at the Chateau Marmont on Saturday, said this trend actually lends itself to higher-quality productions. “Because they’re scaling down, we’re able to give better service. We’re able to do better flowers, more furniture, great antique pieces and better wines and champagnes.”
Event planners have found other clever ways to trim the budget, like booking smaller locations or intimate dinners at private homes to avoid the costs of setting up tents and building an event from the ground up.
And the green movement has become all the more prevalent — because let’s face it, recycling saves money. So when Vanity Fair announced it will be reusing décor from past events, not only does it look eco-chic and environmentally responsible, but it can save loads of cash.
The magazine set the scaled-back tone back in November when editor-in-chief Graydon Carter cited the flailing economy as the reason behind its less-luxe affair, which will now take place at the Sunset Tower Hotel rather than Morton’s, where it had been from 1994 to 2007. (Another reason: The restaurant closed last year.)
That means the notoriously exclusive A-list haven just got a lot more so with even fewer people on the invite list. In years past, there was a tent and a grand topiary bearing the magazine’s name, but this year simplicity will reign with comfort food like chicken pot pie.
But there will be plenty of caviar (15 pounds to be exact) and champagne (1,500 bottles of Moet & Chandon) at the official Oscar celebration, the Governors Ball inside the Hollywood & Highland ballroom.
The 1,500 guests – double the amount of those that will be allowed access to the Vanity Fair party – will indulge in a Wolfgang Puck-catered feast fit for a star. Some menu highlights: 1,200 pounds of Maine lobster, 150 pounds of sushi grade albacore tuna, 10 pounds of black winter truffles, bread and chocolate in the shape of Oscars and on and on.
But that doesn’t mean mastermind Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Productions did not find creative ways to cut costs, like picking a less-is-more Asian theme that lends itself to the times. For example, rather than last year’s over-the-top gilded look, Mark’s Garden has created minimalist, sculptural pieces using discarded grapevine trunks.
Also, having a big bash with a staff of 900, when so many others have scaled back, means giving the Los Angeles economy a boost.
And to further assuage Hollywood guilt, there will be plenty of charity tie-ins, like a Sheryl Crow concert at the House of Blues on Wednesday night, which raises funds for children and women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the unused food from the Governors Ball will be donated to a shelter via Angel Harvest while the scrap wood goes to Habitat for Humanity.