The partying has begun, but the question is: what's it celebrating?
Oh, let's not dwell on serious issues or existential questions. For Oscar Week in Hollywood you have to have a sense of humor. Let's not get too heavy. Movies are supposed to fun, after all.
Last night's big fete given by W magazine at a private home in beautiful Hancock Park had to be addressed in just that way. The big stars who made the scene, separately, were two Oscar winners: Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltrow. Cage — fresh from his much publicized relationship with Lisa Marie Presley — brought an interesting new companion, supermodel Frankie Rayder. Hopefully she got a couple of bottles of the super-expensive Thierry Mugler perfume that was given out as a parting gift.
Also bopping around was Crossing Jordan star Jill Hennessy with her beau, an aspiring actor named Paulo. And Charmed star Rose McGowan, who was charming. We spotted director Tim Burton's ex-girlfriend, Lisa Marie (no relation to Elvis). "Who is she now?" asked one wag. "No one," was the reply of a reader of Jackie Collins' famous book Hollywood Wives. When it's over, you're over, essentially.
What all these big stars didn't know, though, was that the beautiful 1961 home we were in had an owner of questionable — at least for these people — provenance. Indeed, the hens were in the fox's den as it turned out since the home — called The White House — is owned by Star magazine's premiere gossip columnist Janet Charlton, who wasn't invited to her own home for the party! Nevertheless, I am happy to tell you, the always charming Janet was certainly present. She donned a black wig over her trademark blonde tresses, and managed to keep on eye on the silverware and her other prized possessions. Anyway, Janet's house is quite lovely, which just goes to show — at least in tabloid world — gossip pays!
Elsewhere last night, this reporter had the opportunity to be a bellhop — don't say I've never done anything for an Oscar nominee. A limousine unceremoniously discharged In the Bedroom star Tom Wilkinson and his wife on the curb in front of the Four Seasons Hotel — where Joaquin Phoenix and his girlfriend were posted waiting for their own car. With no help in sight, I volunteered to roll up my sleeves and assist the Wilkinsons with their check-in. I told Tom, "I'll only take you as far as the concierge desk." He didn't even tip me!
By the end of the night — after attending the opening of Gucci's new boutique on Rodeo Drive — Late, Late Show talk show host Craig Kilborn was overheard in a heated sports trivia marathon session with Miramax's Harvey Weinstein — who, I am told, knew more than Kilborn. Weinstein offered to do a full Late, Late Night episode if he could bring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck with him. Sources say the deal is being worked out now. Anyone who caught this trio on Inside the Actor's Studio knows this should be an amusing and enlightening event.
Also hanging around restaurant Ago on Melrose — which seems to be the Elaine's of the West coast set — actor/director Griffin Dunne, who's on his way to Hawaii with his 11-year-old daughter; plus Mickey Rourke, Joe Pesci, legendary rocker from The Band, Robbie Robertson, the great record producer Richard Perry (Carly Simon, the Pointer Sisters), and assorted beautiful women — mostly from New York — who took over Ago with aplomb. We're starting to wonder if there are any Angelenos about town?
As one New Yorker put it: "These people are lucky we came West to entertain them!"