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Inside Oscar Week’s Parties: The Scene Before the Show (Photos)

Oh look: Robert De Niro and David O. Russell taking a photo for Florence Henderson on her iPhone

TheWrap spent the week leading up to the Oscars scouring Hollywood’s best parties, scoping out luminaries from Robert De Niro to Amy Adams to Martin Scorsese. Oh: and we also spotted Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Emmy Rossum and Ashley Greene, among many others. We’ve had a busy week.

Here’s what we saw as we dutifully attended our soirees and galas.

Russell and “Hustle” Muscle Out the Competition 

The “Toast to American Hustle” at Ago won Thursday night’s party derby.

It was hosted by Vanity Fair and Chrysler,  but De Niro was at the center. In addition to being an owner of the Melrose hotspot, he shared the prime table with “Hustle” director David O. Russell in the back room. They were joined by Paul Herman, who plays a fake lawyer in the critical scene in the film.

Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood - Vanity Fair And Chrysler Toast American Hustle


Sony Pictures Classics co-heads Tom Bernard and Michael Barker held a tight circle with the popular Megan Ellison. It was broken up only when Amy Adams floated through.

Ever the host, Vanity Fair publisher Edward Menicheschi fetched a cocktail in a tin glass for Ellison before she even made it through bottleneck entrance. Update: I’ve been chastised and refined from my brute analysis. It was actually a “Le Melon Mule in a copper mug,” a Goose flavor that’s not yet been released. 

Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood - Vanity Fair And Chrysler Toast American HustleRussell, meanwhile, snapped photos for Florence Henderson with her iPhone. He was coming off a night in which both the Directors and Writers Nominees’ receptions conflicted (he’s the only crossover nominee). He also turned up at TheWrap’s Oscar party.

Also on hand were Elisabeth Rohm, “Hustle” writer Eric Warren Singer, Melora Hardin, producer Desiree Gruber, Graydon Carter, Helena Christensen, and Sony chiefs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.

(Left: Eli Roth and Adam Shankman, who produced the 2010 Academy Awards.)

Adrien Grenier turned up looking lean at “shooting weight” for the “Entourage” movie.

(By Friday morning, a crew from “Entourage” was shooting at Equinox in West Hollywood. Regular morning cycler Common hopped off his bike mid-sweat, agree to be mic’d up, and step in to a small scene. The scene included a loud swear word that begins with “f” followed by a death threat.)

From A Wonder Woman to Supermen

COMP - Amy Adams Ben Affleck Michael Wilkinson

Michael Wilkinson, the Oscar nominated costume designer behind “American Hustle,” had a lot to be smiling about at the “American Hustle” toast.

He’s a hero to many men for Amy Adams’ revealing wardrobe. And his next designs are for superheroes: He’s handling costumes for 2016’s Superman-Batman movie.

Wilkinson told me he’s done with Ben Affleck’s Batman suit, and that they’re moving on to camera tests soon. Adams will again play Lois Lane, probably wearing more demure outfits than she did in “Hustle.”

The next day, he’d be on the 2014 Sketch to Screen Costume Design Panel at UCLA’s school of Theater, Film, and Television with fellow nominee Catherine Martin. (Update: She beat him for the Oscar for “The Great Gatsby”.)

Sketch to Screen 2014 2

Scorsese, Dern, Leo, Don Rickles, and Brad Grey Huddle at Spago 

Martin Scorsese Bruce DernAttention Diddy: This is the rat pack look you wanted in those Ciroc ads.

As “Hustle” wound down by 8 p.m., Paramount’s party was just starting up at Spago in Beverly Hills.

The key table here was far in the backroom, to the left, where Don Rickles rode shotgun next to Martin Scorsese. Brad Grey and Bruce Dern filled out the huddle.

Johnny Knoxville Don Rickles

Johnny Knoxville, whose makeup team is nominated for “Bad Grandpa” and who made hundreds of millions with Paramount on the initial “Jackass” franchise, sported a jean jacket that said “Sin City” on the back, and joined Rickles to unite two generations of uncompromising comedy.

Jonah Hill, Will Forte, Mimi Rogers, and Jeff Tremaine were also spread across the four rooms.

Jonah Hill

Paramount nabbed Pandora jewelry, a frequent suite sponsor, to “present” the party. Good gift.

“20 Feet from Stardom”  – Backup Singers in the Spotlight on Oscar Night?

COMP Morgan Neville Chateau Lunch

“20 Feet From Stardom” producer Morgan Neville (above) said his documentary about rock’s greatest backup singers has helped the careers of all involved at a Friday luncheon at the Chateau. He said the Oscar nomination for his film was “the cherry on top” of the whole experience.

Chateau owner Andres Balasz sat next to the film’s Darlene Love near the center. Also on hand were Wendy Stark, and host Dom Perignon’s Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy, who is curiously fleeing L.A. on Oscar weekend for Napa.

J.J.’s Off Prepping Star Wars

9th Annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish In Film" Pre-Academy Awards Event

The was no J.J. Abrams on the rooftop at the Bad Robot offices in Santa Monica on Thursday night, but he had a good excuse: He’s off prepping “Star Wars: Episode VII.”

Conan O’Brien picked up an award from the US-Ireland Alliance at the annual Oscar week event honoring the Irish in film.

“Leave it to the Irish to give a major film award to someone who’s never appeared in a film,” O’Brien opened.  “I’m honored to be here in the footsteps of other Irish giants like J.J. Abrams, Russian Jew Paul Rudd, Chaz Palmintieri, and Julio Iglesias.”

For the record, J.J. is not Irish. His wife is.

Joel McHale had the crowd warm by the time he introduced O’Brien.

“(Conan) followed in the footsteps of late night forbearers Johnny Carson and David Letterman by giving us an entirely new reason to hate Jay Leno,” McHale said, in the best line of the night.

9th Annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish In Film" Pre-Academy Awards Event

YouTube founder Chad Hurley (above left, with Kevin Shea) was the other honoree of the night. His presenter was 1.1 million subscribed YouTube star ShayCarl.

It wasn’t all jokes: Lionsgate’s Michael Burns took a moment to acknowledge the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

11:30 a.m. Champagne Call Time

"Making Of" The 86th Annual Academy Awards Oscar Winners Envelope
Champagne before lunch on a Wednesday? Sure.

Marc Friedland (above), who designs and produces the envelopes (“The Envelope please…”) for the telecast, had a hundred guests looking over the tops of glasses of champagne and cocktails at “The Oscar goes to…” cards in his studio a few miles straight south from the Dolby Theatre.

Sally Hawkins Best Supporting Actress

But that’s a minor accomplishment compared to getting last year’s “Argo” winning envelope to Michelle Obama at the White House, past the Secret Service, without anybody ever opening it.

Also Read: 10 Secrets of the Oscar Envelope: ‘It’s Engineered like a German Car’

Voting ended on Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT, so the ballots, envelopes, and envelope-genocide duties are now the responsibility of PwC.

Also Read: 86 Facts You May Not Know From OscarWrap’s Behind-the-Scenes Guide

5 Years of TheWRAP

By the time it got dark on Wednesday, the industry was ready to celebrate TheWrap’s 5th Anniversary and annual Oscar party at Culina at the Four Seasons.

TheWrap's 5th Annual Oscar Party - Inside

TheWrap founder/editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman, The Weinstein Co COO David Glasser, and the cake.

“Philomena” producer and Best Picture nominee Gabrielle Tana was one of  several in the room who may be walking home with statutes on Sunday. “Nebraska” Supporting Actress nomineee June Squibb was also on hand, with a small entourage.

TheWrap's 5th Annual Oscar Party - Inside

Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh was joined by fellow mogual Ben Silverman (above), as studio chiefs Rob Friedman from Lionsgate and Tom Bernard (waiting on some potential “Blue Jasmine” wins for Sony Pictures Classics) also came to celebrate. Nominee Greg Orloff (“Inside llewyn Davis”), perhaps a winner for best hair as well as sound, floated throug the room.

It stayed packed from the early happy hour call time (6 p.m.) until 10. Big thanks to brand partners that came on board for this one, including Peroni Nastro Azzurro, American Airlines, and the Four Seasons.

Single Frame “Films” for Elizabeth Taylor’s “Birthday”

Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Art Auction Benefit

On Thursday night, what would have been Elizabeth Taylor’s 82nd birthday, 250 of her friends and family gathered for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Art Auction Benefit. Colin Farrell (above center) hosted the event that came off with the help of Taylor’s granddaughter Naomi Wilding and her husband Anthony Cran. (They have a photography gallery downtown.)

The friends who donated pieces are a who’s who of photography: Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Jeff Vespa, Carole Bayer Sager, and even Taylor’s grandson, Quinn Tivey.

Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Art Auction Benefit
Aileen Getty, above with Tommy Hollenstein, matched every dollar raised on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

The Art Of Elysium's 7th Annual Pieces Of Heaven

Meanwhile over in Hollywood the night before, Morgan Marling and sister Brit Marling took in the Art of Elyisum’s Pieces of Heaven Art Auction, the annual Oscar week fundraiser.

Concord, Mass. Comes to the Oscars 

Vanity Fair kicked off the week at No Vacancy on Tuesday night. With a significant carpet and full house, the famed secret door/entrance got a vacation night.

Vanity Fair’s Senior West Coast Editor Krista Smith (thank her for those fold-out “Hollywood Issues”) co-hosted with Chris Evans. The night benefitted the Concord Youth Theatre in Massachusetts, which is run by Evans’ mom.

Michael B. Jordan - Krista Smith from Twitter
Michael B. Jordan, one of the most dressed up, got plenty of face time (and PG-rated) tongue time with Smith (above) and no tongue-time (as far as I know) with VF publisher Edward Menicheschi.

Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood - Vanity Fair And FIAT Celebrate "Young Hollywood"

Smith, Menicheschi, Stacy Keibler, Chris Evans and Troy Garity at VF and Fiat’s Celebration of “Young Hollywood” on Tuesday night.

Fiat was a sponsor for the fourth year.

Steven R. McQueen (not the “12 Years” director, the one from “Vampire Diaries”) and Colton Haynes lit up Abercrombie & Fitch’s “Making of a Star” campaign party at Siren Studios.

Abercrombie & Fitch "The Making of a Star" Spring Campaign Party

Diamonds are Everyone’s Best Friend

The crush to get in to Bulgari’s bash atop the Soho House on Tuesday night had a few cooling their heels in the parking garage. It reached capacity early.

BVLGARI "Decades Of Glamour" Oscar Party Hosted By Naomi Watts - Inside

I’d call Kate Hudson and host Naomi Watts the headliners here, though Emmy Rossum and Ashley Greene (below) also fit the bill for the title of the night: “Decades of Glamour”.

BVLGARI Presents "Decades Of Glamour"
Oscars Be Damned

Amidst all these events and the industry that thows them, attends them, and covers them, SBE in-house publicist Brittany Mathieu threw a mid-week, Oscars-be-damned, birthday party on a Wednesday that could have been mistaken for a Friday.

Somehow, the whole gang showed up. Those who get paychecks from People, InStyle, InTouch, Access Hollywood, Us Weekly, and other stakeholders in Oscar week all dodged other commitments to cram the upstairs at State Social House (the former Red Rocks, on Sunset).

When the cake came out, with Mathieu’s face on it, the birthday girl was standing on a couch, a bottle of Grey Goose on the table, and “Timber” playing. That sounds like the SBE we all know. Credit the sharp eye and sixth sense of Mathieu to call out anyone, including a party reporter with a post to write, who tried to sneak out early on a school night.

Keep TV in the ‘Mix’

Mixology101 Cocktail Lounge hosts premiere party for the cast of ABC's new sitcom MIXOLOGY Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in Los Angeles

Amidst ABC’s wall-to-wall promotion of the Oscar telecast was its publicity for the new series “Mixology.”

Stars Alexis Carra, Frankie Shaw, Ginger Gonzaga, Kate Simses, and Vanessa Lengies (pictured) stormed the bar at the premiere party at Mixology101 & Planet Dailies at the Grove on Wednesday night.

Mixology101 Cocktail Lounge hosts premiere party for the cast of ABC's new sitcom MIXOLOGY Wednesday, February 26, 2014 in Los Angeles

Adan Canto and Vanessa Lengies have to be hoping that the series will take off, so slinging drinks will not be in their future.

Lucas Shaw contributed spectacularly to this report.

Paramount party photos by Alex J. Berliner/AB Images. Mixology photos by Imeh Akpanudosen/WireImage. Michael B. Jordan tongue photo courtesy of Twitter. Sally Hawkins photo by the writer. All others by Getty Images.

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