The war with Iraq is claiming casualties here in Hollywood: It's killing the relationships between the working press and the movie studios, the publicists and Vanity Fair magazine.
What’s happening has been in the making for a long time. The doorkeepers for various Oscar-related events have seized on the uncertain geopolitical climate to ban the press from whatever events will still be happening this Academy Awards weekend.
This means, for example, that Vanity Fair has finally figured out a way to give its Oscar party in secret.
On Thursday, the magazine’s clipboard Nazis called all the press people it had already invited to the party and told them they were out. All of them, not just the regular enemies list.
Vanity Fair also bounced New York Post columnists Liz Smith and Cindy Adams, as well as other writers who’d come to Los Angeles specifically to attend the multi-million-dollar festival of self-importance the magazine tosses itself each year.
Vanity Fair even banned writers from other magazines published by Condé Nast.
The magazine's excuse? During this time of war, it wanted its guests to have a safe and secure place where they could party.
What this really means is that Vanity Fair wanted a place where the stars could really groove on excess without reporters chronicling it.
At the Oscars, the stars will look appropriately grim and world-weary. But in the privacy of the Vanity Fair circus tent (a real, not figurative, one), the celebs can party like there’s no tomorrow.
I ran into legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach Thursday night at dinner. He marveled at all the diners chowing down at the famous Ivy on Robertson Blvd.
"It’s like nothing’s happened," he said with a sigh.
Vanity Fair’s decision to ban press doesn’t do much for Mortons, the restaurant they take over every year. Mortons depends on publicity from the event; this year they will have little.
But I can tell you that yesterday’s lunch at Mortons was quite the little publicity tour. Actor Ron Silver and his lady friend Kate Castelbajac had one table, while Iman (Mrs. David Bowie) took another with photographer Patrick McMullan.
Famed Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan was at another table, and British pop star Julia Fordham headed up one more. Martial movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme commanded his own corner spot, too.
Not bad for a slow afternoon.
Meanwhile, other Oscar parties are starting to use the "no press" rule as a way to wedge out unwanted prying eyes.
The word went out yesterday that the Gagosian Art Gallery didn’t want press for its annual party, although the reason was slightly different. Gagosian’s problems weren’t about the war.
Rather, it was a response to the news that owner Larry Gagosian was being sued for tax fraud by the United States. It’s all part of a scandal emanating from Sam Waksal and ImClone, the same scandal that’s eaten Martha Stewart alive.
The Gagosian party was in honor of California conceptual artist Ed Ruscha. But unlike last year’s event for Julian Schnabel, this one had far less star power. Only Elton John — on the Oscar circuit with a vengeance this week — gave Gagosian a needed boost. Otherwise, Monty Python’s Eric Idle was the only big name to attend.
Around the corner, Sharon Stone conducted an auction at Sotheby’s to raise money for AmFar. The Diamond Information Center sponsored the night, which boasted a number of old Hollywood stars who came together for a group portrait.
I asked Sharon whether she though the Oscars should be canceled or postponed.
She replied, "I’m going to be with my family so I won’t be there. But otherwise it’s not for me to say." A circumspect Sharon Stone is one positive result of the Iraq invasion.
Friday night promises more parties, no press and lots of bad blood. Top of the list is ICM agent Ed Limato’s bash at his Hollywood estate, where many members of the usual guest list have been lopped off. Limato’s biggest client is Mel Gibson, whose father recently insisted in the New York Times Magazine that the Holocaust never happened.
Liz Taylor, Elton John and Rod Stewart all showed up at the Osbournes’ home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night to raise money for Elton’s AIDS Foundation.
I can’t tell you what was said to whom by whom because the press was banned, and Sharon Osbourne’s manager and publicist refused to be of assistance of any kind in the matter. It seems that with dwindling ratings, the Osbourne’s may be cutting back on their P.R. circus.
But one guest did tell me that after having made a speech, Sharon Osbourne excused herself and went off to rest. "She didn’t look good, and she said she needed to lie down."
So our prayers and get well wishes go to Sharon, even though her event did little to win her new fans.
Chicago producer Marty Richards got a little party thrown for him last night at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. Nearly insufferable performer Michael Feinstein gave an hour-long concert for Richards. It was swell by any estimation.
But the cast members of Chicago were not there, even though director Rob Marshall was. Richard Gere is now said to have the flu. Catherine Zeta-Jones, eight months pregnant, was exhausted from Oscar rehearsals. And so on and so forth.
I told you that on Tuesday night heiress Paris Hilton made a scene at the Women’s Wear Daily party. The 20-year-old daughter of Rick and Kathy Hilton — descendants of hotelier Conrad Hilton — boasted she was wearing millions in diamonds. She also threw herself at a considerably older and wiser Keanu Reeves, who rejected her advances.
I saw Paris at a point when I thought she was leaving the festivities, but apparently she went back for more and continued to enjoy herself. A source who was involved with the party told me later, "Paris was carried out, nearly unconscious."
Another partygoer mostly agreed with this assessment. "I don’t think she was unconscious, but she was in bad shape."
Hilton and her sister Nikki, I am told, are referred to in some circles by the derogatory appellation "the Ramada sisters." They seem almost completely oblivious to world events, or even matters of common sense. Far from being well-educated madcap heiresses, they have created reputations for hard partying with little thought to the consequences.
Here’s what I think, as if they care: Even Ivanka Trump, Donald and Ivana’s daughter, has given up the modeling life for law and business schools. It’s an absolute crime that Paris Hilton has been allowed to skip higher education in favor of being a public nincompoop.
There certainly has to be a better use for this young woman than being a display case for cheap-looking jewelry. The party should have been over a long time ago. Even movie stars are starting to mock her, and that’s not so funny.
There is little to recommend View from the Top, which opens today. This mishmash of ideas doesn’t know whether it’s Airplane!, There’s Something About Mary, The Best of Everything or Airport. So it’s all of them, and none of them.
Released between the Oscars and the war, this movie has now been officially dumped.
But lo and behold: lurking around in there is a great little comic performance by Candice Bergen. The great beauty and multiple Emmy winner has been slowly working her way back into films with pivotal roles in comedies like Sweet Home Alabama, Miss Congeniality and now this.
It’s been an excellent career plan. But here’s my complaint: Why can’t Candice get a starring role? I think there’s a First Wives Club-type film out there with her name on it. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for two inspired scenes of zaniness in View.