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Oscar Reality Check: No 'Sideways' About It

Oscar Buzz | Keanu Reeves and Spike Lee

Oscar Reality Check: No 'Sideways' About It

They don't like "Sideways." They like "The Aviator" but they haven't yet watched "Finding Neverland." "Million Dollar Baby" is a winner. But "Kinsey," "Ray," and "Hotel Rwanda" haven't fired anyone up yet to choose among them.

That's a little of what I heard from some real-life Academy voters at New Line Cinema chief Bob Shaye 's star-studded party on Friday night. I can't tell you who said what, but I will tell you that the rooms of Shaye's sprawling Beverly Hills home were chockablock with bold-face names. Too many in fact — it was the first party I've ever been to where there weren't enough "filler" people and too many stars.

Among the faces: Dustin Hoffman and wife Lisa, Jacqueline Bissett, Salma Hayek with pal Mia Maestro, Javier Bardem, Anjelica Huston with artist husband Robert Graham and "Birth" star brother Danny Huston, "Jackie Brown" star Robert Forster with Dani Janssen (Hollywood's famous Oscar party thrower and true VIP), Delroy Lindo, a balance-threatened Lara Flynn Boyle, famed and award-winning composers Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore, Dennis Hopper (whose photos hang all over the house), perennially gorgeous Michelle Phillips, Ioan Gruffudd ("King Arthur," "Fantastic Four") and Alice Evans (102 Dalmatians), Marley Shelton, Mena Suvari, John Rhys-Davies , and so on and so forth.

This followed the big book signing for "Aviator" cinematographer Dante Ferretti at the Tods store on Rodeo Drive where Leonardo DiCaprio, Andie McDowell, and a ton of industry types helped get the night going. Around the corner, on Camden Drive, another soiree at the Gagosian Art Gallery packed ‘em in too, and the line out of nearby Mr. Chow showed people pushed up against the front windows waiting for tables.

But wait — back to Chez Shaye, as Jackie Bissett, who has not succumbed to the plastic surgery craze and is more beautiful than ever, complimented Dustin Hoffman on his work with Barbra Streisand in "Meet the Fockers." Bissett is one of our great treasures, and it's about time she was used properly in a classy film or TV series. (Any one of the weekly shows — "ER," "West Wing," etc., should pay big bucks to bring her in for a guest stint.)

Meanwhile, Janssen, widow of "The Fugitive" David Janssen, who was also married at one point to Rat Pack drummer Buddy Greco and stunt man Hal Needham, regaled the assembled crowd with stories about her best pal Clint Eastwood and turned down pleas from those who have heard about her fabled Oscar night party in Century City. "I've had to whittle the guest list down," she told me. "Now you have to have an Oscar or been nominated for one. Don Rickles comes and everyone asks me why, but he was at the very first party."

Yeah, and this year Jamie Foxx has been invited but otherwise the group is still kept to regulars Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, plus Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, Clint Eastwood and wife Dina, Penny Marshall, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and some new kids like Marcia Gay Harden, Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe.

Dani, who knows all and sees all, is not letting us in even though we are old friends. We do not have an Oscar or even a relative by that name. Too bad. She makes her fried chicken and "monkey bread." The latter is so popular that she has to send it to friends around the country by special request.

So what about the Oscars? It seems as though Annette Bening and Hilary Swank are in a dead heat. A lot of people are talking about their five-year rematch, first mentioned in this column several weeks ago. (The pair last competed in 1999 when Hilary's performance in "Boys Don't Cry" beat Annette's in "American Beauty.") Jamie Foxx has the lead in the actors category, but there's room for movement here because Foxx has been the front-runner for so long. If he wins the Golden Globe, that may be the end of his awards season. And the best bet: that somehow Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese are going to divide the big spoils, Best Picture and Best Director.

Star Sightings

Oddest couple ever: Keanu Reeves (with a beard) and Spike Lee chatting as they walked into the Four Seasons Hotel.

Nicole Kidman with her sister Antonia and brother-in-law on their way to dinner Friday night at Madeo.

The great Karl Malden serenaded lunch guests on Friday at the Four Seasons with reminisces of his pal Marlon Brando kind of endlessly. But listeners were held rapt. Malden is now the only living member of the famed "Streetcar Named Desire" cast.

Warren Beatty lunching at the Grill in Beverly Hills.

"Sideways" star Paul Giamatti skipped the Friday night parties for a quiet dinner with his wife —very un-Hollywood.

Star Jones nearly closed down the bar at the Four Seasons on Friday night. She held court, literally, in a powder-blue tracksuit with her new husband and a posse of about a dozen noisy pals. Across the room, Delroy Lindo and Heavy D were having dinner. And between these two tables, Spike Lee and wife Tonya had their table for 12.

Andie McDowell is busy taking pictures for a project called "Flat Sally" for her school-age niece Mimi. The natural and classic beauty remains happily headquartered in North Carolina after her second divorce.