Published February 21, 2009
Beyonce Knowles, fresh off her success singing for President and Mrs. Obama at the inauguration, is set to perform on tomorrow night’s Academy Awards show.
Beyonce’s appearance is supposed to be a surprise, but she confirmed it for me last night with a wink when we ran into each other at what has turned out to be an Oscar weekend clubhouse for stars, Cecconi’s restaurant in West Hollywood.
The pop star was fresh from rehearsals with her “Dreamgirls” director Bill Condon and “Australia” director Baz Luhrmann. Ironically, I’d just been chatting with Luhrmann over at the Chateau Marmont, the other Oscar headquarters for the last few days. At the Chateau, Julianne Moore was dining with a jewelry designer pal, actress Kate Bosworth came with her mom and producer/financier Ryan Kavanaugh, and Patricia Clarkson was busy looking for a friend who was lost in the hotel’s lobby.
Luhrmann told us that his part of the Oscar show was “not that big,” and that the section he’d set for host Hugh Jackman comes somewhere in the middle of the proceedings. He also confirmed that the stage set for the Oscars at the Kodak Theater was “something no one’s seen before” and really was going to blow our minds. Cool!
But then we got over to Cecconi’s, where Beyonce — in rehearsal wear and a little cap — was getting some sustenance on the front porch with two friends after rehearsal. “What are you doing in the show?” I asked. “I’m not in the show!” she replied, then laughed, “I’m not supposed to tell you.” So, we’ll let something be a tease.
Beyonce did tell me that she was overwhelmed by the chance to sing for the Obamas at the inauguration: “I played that tape back every day for two weeks.” She just couldn’t believe it.
Actually, I couldn’t believe it, because as Beyonce sat to my left on the Cecconi’s banquette, actress Elizabeth Banks was to my right. “Isn’t this great?” she asked, looking around the room, “That everyone’s together in one place?”
I had thought that most of Hollywood would be at the two or three agents’ parties around town. But those were old news, as it turned out, and most everyone had come over to Cecconi’s. Across from us, Jennifer Aniston chatted with Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. Next to Elizabeth, “Fantastic Four” actor Ioan Gruffudd and his actress wife Alice Evans, commanded another group.
Further inside Cecconi’s, NBC chief Ben Silverman was hosting a table for British designer Ozwald Boateng. Mariah Carey and hubby Nick Cannon were there, along with the mayor of Los Angeles — his second night in a row at Cecconi’s — and more celebrities in every corner of the new restaurant, from Jason Bateman to Peter Fonda to Anthony Mackie to Isaiah Washington to “The Reader” director Stephen Daldry, “Frost/Nixon” writer Peter Morgan and producer Lawrence Bender.
The flashbulbs were flooding the front of Cecconi’s all night — Elton John and David Furnish had already been there at lunch time. It was the place to be. In the washroom, one producer told me that even though the entire star-studded cast of his new movie was in town, he — and they — had all been snubbed by their talent agency for that night’s party. So where were they?
“We’re all here,” he said. “And who cares!”
Michael Jackson is not getting ready for any London shows this summer.
The Times of London Saturday is recycling stories from this column from last year indicating that Jackson will play a series of dates at AEG Live’s O2 Arena.
I first told you about these offers more than a year ago. Readers of this column have followed the saga. Jackson had an offer for $10 million guaranteed against $30 million. But the economy was very different then, and so was Jackson. AEG would still like Jackson to perform but the terms of the offer would be different now.
Ah, the British press. They’re so much fun!
Everyone out here is crossing fingers for no rain this weekend, especially on Saturday for the Independent Spirit Awards. This favorite show takes place under a huge tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Bad weather is a real downer.
Steve Coogan, star of “Hamlet 2” and the guy who played the exploding director in “Tropic Thunder,” is hosting the live broadcast on IFC. Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Claire Danes, Penelope Cruz, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, Cameron Diaz, Michelle Williams, Javier Bardem and Debra Winger will all be at the show and the after party at Shutters on the Beach for IFC’s Indie Film Celebration soiree. DJ Momjeans, aka Danny Masterson from "That 70s Show," will be spinning disks...
... Booked on the program for Stevie Wonder’s Gershwin Prize at the White House next Wednesday — to be shown on PBS the next night — Wonder himself and Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Martina McBride, Esperanza Spalding, Will.i.am, and the gospel duo Mary Mary…