Published February 22, 2009
Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein still has "it," the magic to pull together a bunch of stars for a private bash.
Last night, after The Night After fizzled over at the Beverly Hills Hotel – public protests are such a downer — and all the other studio gatherings came and went, Weinstein partied like it was 1999.
That was the year that Shakespeare in Love and Life is Beautiful won a raft of awards. Weinstein could only be happy because during the day Saturday Woody Allen picked up his first ever Indie Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for Vicki Cristina Barcelona. And Penelope Cruz got her Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress in the same film. She also seduced the crowd with a charming acceptance speech that was also a funny anecdote about Allen’s infamous hypochondria.
And so it was on the roof of the beautifully renovated Sunset Hyatt Hotel — now called, strangely, the Andaz — that Weinstein summoned a small turbo charged group of A listers. On the outside terrace, sitting in a tight little tableau were Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, with Benny Medina at their side, plus Robert DeNiro, actress Kerry Washington, director-producer Lee Daniels — whose hot film Push with Mariah Carey will be retitled Precious, Jessica Alba, as well as Weinstein’s Marchesa designer wife Georgina Chapman, and Leonardo DiCaprio (wearing his clamped down signature baseball cap), Kevin Connolly, last year’s Best Actress (and soon to be in Weinstein’s Nine) Marion Cotillard, Zack Braff, Chace Crawford, Bai Ling, designer Ozwald Boateng and Spirit Award nominee Anthony Mackie.
While the group chatted about babies, movies, the lightly falling rain and their next movies, who breezed through but the one and only Lindsay Lohan. She looked great, was sober as a judge (or as judges used to be), and talked excitedly about new projects and plans. She was sans companion Samantha Ronson, but that means nothing, and introduced everyone to a (platonic) male friend who owns local luxury car dealerships.
Inside the rooftop loft, staying away from the impending wet weather were the rich guys: billionaire Ron Burkle, and media investor Vivi Nevo with fiancée Ziyi Zhang, the great and beautiful young Chinese actress.
And still more stars and bold faced names wandered in and out, some coming from a dinner party at the great Italian restaurant, Madeo in Beverly Hills, where British talent agent Charles Finch took over the dining room (with the help of Chanel) for an intimate, elegant dinner. His guests included Clare Danes and Hugh Dancy, Miramax chief Daniel Battsek — who just hosted his own bash for Doubt and for director Mike Leigh at the new London Hotel, plus a natty and healthy Dominick Dunne, Milla Jovovich, Peggy Siegal, a whole gang from The Reader including Stephen Daldry, David Kross, producer Donna Gigliotti, and Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan (he also wrote The Queen).
Why weren’t some of these people at the annual Beverly Hills Hotel bash for the Motion Picture Fund? What we kept hearing all night: it was very dull, there were no gift bags, there were protesters outside the hotel making noise about the Fund shutting down the hospital at the Motion Picture Home — strange after all these years of million dollar fund raisers — and so on.
“The crowd was terrible and seemed like no one actually paid for their tickets,” cracked one observer. “They just filled the room with extras.”
Not the case over at the Chateau Marmont, where the Diamond Information Center hosted its annual dinner with guest star Julianne Moore. The DIC’s elegant Sally Morrison introduced the former president of Botswana, the much praised Festus Mogae, to a group that also included a Diamandi-encrusted Sharon Stone, Debra Messing, Angie Harmon and Dita von Teese.
And the Oscars? Everyone’s watching, and everyone’s going. I’m amazed by the snarky naysaying on blogs and in some gossip columns. Here in Hollywood, the party’s on, and no one wants to miss it!
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…