Oscar Saturday: Julia, Barbra and the A-List Turn Out for Miramax
Day Two of Oscar weekend was capped by Miramax Films' annual Max awards party at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. And what an event this turned out to be: no less a personality than Barbra Streisand herself ventured into public with husband James Brolin and took a front-row seat with Talk editor Tina Brown while Oscar nominees and various stars put on a talent show.
Indeed, the annual Max awards show features skits in which stars play parts from movies of the year. So Streisand and Brolin, with Brown, had a bird's-eye view, while Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt were just a table ahead of them. Roberts broke into real laughter when actor James Woods came out for one sketch called "Erin Chocovich."
Yes, Woods — usually quite the anti-hero in movies like Ghosts of Mississippi and The Onion Field — donned an Erin wig, fake chest and short skirt and made the most of his impersonation of Roberts. The audience howled.
Later, during a parody of Gladiator, Oscar-nominated actor Geoffrey Rush appeared in full toga as Russell Crowe's Maximus.
"The underwear was mine," he admitted to me later of his red boxers. "The costume provided for me backstage was insubstantial, so I had to add my own red underwear! But it was like a theater troupe backstage. You should have seen Jimmy Woods go for the Erin Brockovich costume!"
The audience for whom this gang performed was pretty star-studded. Crowe, actor/director Vondie Curtis Hall with wife director Kasi Lemmons, Ed Norton and Salma Hayek, Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson, Patti D'Arbanville, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Julian Schnabel, Anabella Sciorra, Willem Dafoe, Fisher Stevens, Kevin Spacey, Darren Aronofsky, Jennifer Connelly, Tobey Maguire with galpal/Spiderman costar Kirsten Dunst, Joaquin Phoenix, Lasse Hallström and Lena Olin, Tatum O'Neal with fiancé Steve Hutensky, Dylan McDermott, Neve Campbell, Wes Craven, Jared Leto, Michelle Yeoh, composer Rachel Portman, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix, the great Eva Marie Saint, Meet the Parents producer Jane Rosenthal, star Teri Polo and writer John Hamburg, famed producer Mace Neufeld — the list just went on and on.
Among the other performers who pitched in for the show: Chocolat stars Juliette Binoche and Alfred Molina, Jon Favreau, Djimon Honsou, Heidi Klum. Chocolat producer David Brown, with wife Cosmopolitan magazine legend Helen Gurley Brown, pulled off their own parody of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with aplomb. Helen got to deliver this line: "You are my swordsman. How about a little egg roll in the hay?"
Roberts — who is making the rounds as the presumed Best Actress winner — still doesn't have a dress picked out for this evening's Oscar show. She's been huddling with pal Beverly Cleverling trying to resolve this tough problem.
Meanwhile, former Interscope Records and Films founder Ted Field talked about his new venture — Radar Records and Films. He's still not sure who will distribute his records, but knowing Field he'll be a hit once he launches.
Neve Campbell, who made a splash in the Scream movies and TV's Party of Five, came alone to the party, with a kind of gold tint to her dark hair. Where's she been?
"I'm almost ready to start a couple of new films," she told me. "For a long time I just didn't read anything I liked, so I waited til the right thing came along."
Patti D'Arbanville — once married to Don Johnson, with whom she shares an 18-year old son, showed pictures of the now grown-up Jesse. Patti — a beautiful and talented actress — is in town for pilot season. Jesse, she says, is already acting. He certainly has the looks, from his pics.
"I was picking him up at the airport," Patti told me, "after not seeing him for four months while he was at school. While I was waiting, I saw this attractive young guy. It turned out to be him! How crazy is that?"
After the sketches, Ed Norton and Russell Crowe fell into a serious conversation — with former nominee Norton advising Crowe on the Oscar show. Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein chatted with Cameron Diaz and Tina Brown chewed over the latest political situation with a very animated Streisand and Brolin.
Streisand so rarely makes appearances at crowded functions that it was completely disarming to see her. And yet, she was relaxed and friendly to everyone. She even performed some cocky verbal jousting with writer Denis Ferrara, who contributes to Liz Smith's syndicated column.
A Six Degrees of Separation moment came when Dan Thomas, husband of Julia Roberts' producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, revealed that his grandmother had been Streisand's high-school Spanish teacher. Barbra got a kick out of that.
"I wore a lot of blue eye shadow," she recalled. "But when I got an A on my Spanish test, your grandmother said, You see, you can get an A even with blue eye shadow!"
Yes, Robert De Niro is quite bashful. He spent most of the cocktail hour at Ed Limato's Friday night soirée in the kitchen avoiding the other guests. ... Some of those guests included Elizabeth Hurley and Jay Leno, both of whom I inadvertently left off the guest list in yesterday's column. Also there: producers Brian Grazer (from Imagine Films) and Bernie Brillstein, the guy who gives us The Sopranos and is said to have talked some sense into star Rob Lowe when his life was not as domesticated and orderly as it is now. ... At the Four Seasons Hotel bar, actor Morgan Freeman was spotted dancing to the music, and Ray Liotta was holding court. ... and Kiefer Sutherland scooting through the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire, unaware of the Miramax party. ...
The annual IFP West/Independent Spirit Awards were supposed to have been emceed by Benicio del Toro. But yesterday, del Toro was a no-show with no explanation. He just didn't show up.
But the Spirit Awards were nevertheless spirited — with Javier Bardem and Ellen Burstyn winning the main acting nods, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon getting Best Picture. Director Ang Lee put the whole disorganized Spirit Awards ceremony into focus when he said: "You're telling me we didn't get Best Foreign Film?"
Bardem even put it better when he said: "I never liked independent films. I always liked big-budget movies."
The Spirit Awards were kind of a mishmash this year. Three of the five actresses nominated for the main award were also this year's Oscar nominees. Duplicated nominations and awards abounded. I hope in the coming year the IFP West can figure out how to get back to its roots. And please — change the security firm. There were numerous cases of overzealous security guards being rude to guests.
But my favorite moment of the whole show was right at the start: Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe bicycled over to the gigantic IFP tent complex on the beach from their hotel half a mile away. She was in a bright white, form-fitting gown, too. But what an entrance! Those crazy kids. ...