Life is full of coincidences. Wasn't it only Saturday night that we ran into Katie Holmes at the Armani Prive fashion show? We told you about this two columns ago.
Katie seemed pleased to see us. We may have been the last civilians she met before her magical mystery tour with Tom Cruise began in April 2005.
Lo and behold: We ran into Katie again, this time at the Beverly Hills Hotel after brunch on Sunday, Oscar morning. She arrived in a minivan bearing the family of Vanity Fair's legendary celebrity wrangler Jane Sarkin. And Katie carried her most prized possession: baby Suri.
Suri wore a red frock and a half-smile, along with her well-known chopped bangs. She's Katie's Mini-Me, that's for sure.
Suri has a round, cherubic face, dark eyes and dark hair that are quite distinctive. She also has a huge, memorable smile, and she likes to reach out with her left index finger.
Does she look like Tom? I would say yes, especially in the eyes. She also looks a little like Tom's very handsome mother.
"She looks like a combination of the two of you," I said.
Katie didn't respond, but she may have been distracted. She was wearing large black sunglasses that she never took off.
We exchanged pleasantries about the night before and how good she looked. She took Suri, whom she had been balancing forward so we could see her, tucked her under her arm and made her way into the hotel.
Meanwhile, Katie may have more complex matters on her hands soon. Sources tell me that she and Tom are going to be moving. They are looking for a mansion in Beverly Hills. Apparently the estate where Tom's lived all these years is rented. The owners want to sell, so Cruise has contacted real estate brokers.
"He needs to find a place for 12 people," a source told me. "That's what he asked for."
Cruise is housing his wife, three children, his mother, his sister and her three kids at least. That makes 10. The other two may be David and Victoria Beckham, apparently enlisted to play the Mertzes to the Cruises' Ricardos. Just kidding.
One thing's for certain: Katie is never left alone. She is always accompanied by some group or other, not to mention that she lives in a group home. It takes a village, indeed.
Not everyone gets to go the Oscars, which means plenty of viewing parties and dinners. The two best are always Vanity Fair's and Elton John's for his AIDS charity. This year was no exception.
Vanity Fair's dinner at Mortons is likely its last in that space. As I reported on Tuesday exclusively, Mortons is probably going to close by the end of the year. The landlord wants to triple the rent and doesn't care about the restaurant's legacy. I'm told Peter Morton offered upwards of $15 million to buy the building, but his offer was rebuffed.
"Some kind of terrible retail thing will go in there," sniffed an L.A. observer. "Followed by another and another."
Mortons will join Chasens, Ma Maison, The Brown Derby, the original Spago, Le Dome, Bistro Garden and so many other hallowed Hollywood halls of dining and negotiating.
So, Monday night's gang was extra special: director Ron Howard with wife Cheryl; Kirk and Ann Douglas; Walter Cronkite with Joanna Simon; Brian Grazer reunited with wife Gigi Levangie; Anderson Cooper came with his friend John Gregory; George Hamilton brought ex-wife and good buddy Alana Hamilton; plus our own Mr. and Mrs. Rupert Murdoch; Arianna Huffington; Bette Midler; Maureen Dowd; Jackie Collins; Daniel Craig brought two female dates; favorite Hollywood couple Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch; and Oprah came on her own.
There were many other VIPS, but you get the picture. Dominick Dunne took it all down, and Patrick McMullan photographed it for posterity. I'm sure we'll the results in the magazine's next issue.
Across the street, Elton John downsized his event to a dinner and performance, and cut out the huge post-dinner circus that had grown out of hand. Chopard, Audi and VH1 sponsored the whole evening, which included a performance by Elton with James Blunt and an auction carried out by the very lively Sharon Stone. (It's her second career.)
The guest list was another who's who including the ubiquitous Victoria Beckham, shaggy-haired Jon Bon Jovi, the Osbournes, Sheryl Crow, Kiefer Sutherland, Simon Cowell (who rendered no judgments), Patty Hearst Shaw, Roberto Cavalli, Macy Gray, Eric McCormack, Gloria Estefan, Joely Fisher, John Waters, Cheryl Tiegs, Marlee Matlin and Tim Allen. Bernie Taupin, Elton's famed lyricist, brought wife Heather and supermodel Petra Nemcova showed up for James Blunt. She's his tiny dancer, I suppose.
How many more parties could there be? Plenty, believe me. On Saturday night, after several dozen A-listers walked out of the Beverly Hills Hotel with swag from Target and L'Oreal, most of them headed to Ago for Harvey Weinstein's shared party with co-hosts Tracey Edmonds, Tamara Mellon and Rachel Zoe.
It was supposed to be hush-hush, top secret, etc., but one look at the Ago parking lot and you would have had to be a little dim not to realize something interesting was going on. For example: Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were there along with Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, MGM's Harry Sloan and Rick Sands.
This was the only party that Lindsay Lohan attended all weekend, and she got to see Sean Penn, Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Kyle MacLachlan, Cindy Crawford, Cameron Diaz, Emilio Estevez, the indefatigable Quincy Jones and George Lucas, among others. Whew!
I ran into Joshua Jackson at Ago and told him that Katie Holmes had expressed disappointment that she hadn't seen him earlier at the Armani show.
"I was sitting in the front row," he said, rolling his eyes a bit. Oh well.
The 79th Annual Academy Awards show is over, and so, thank goodness, is awards season.
Helen Mirren is a lovely lady but, really, we have nothing left to say to each other after the New York Film Critics, National Board of Review, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and the Oscars, not to mention endless screenings, dinners, parties, receptions and get-togethers. I'm sure she's quite sick of the press as well.
Thankfully, the nominees this year were a great group of people. Mirren and her husband, Taylor Hackford, were so genial, sophisticated and friendly, you could only hope they will be back every year.
But that's often the case with British actors. Judi Dench is a doll, too. Cate Blanchett is a pleasure to interview. Peter O'Toole is always fun.
I was disappointed for Eddie Murphy because I thought he did such a great job in "Dreamgirls." On the other hand, Alan Arkin has always been a personal favorite of mine, dating from "The Russians Are Coming" and "Catch 22."
Arkin's brand of acting — kind of sly, hip and subversive — is long gone now. His dry sense of humor must seem very disarming to a new generation raised on setups and punch lines from TV shows. He's the real deal.
For Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson, though, all you can feel is pride for what they accomplished. Each of their performances was a gem.
Hudson turned out to be the great Hollywood story — rejected from "American Idol," but bounced back to win everything. She's also a great girl, with a big heart. She's going to last.
Whitaker is another story. When he was directing "Waiting to Exhale" a decade ago, he was left behind at a desert location shoot by Whitney Houston who wanted to take the helicopter back to her hotel. He has paid his dues.
Whitaker started working in episodic TV in 1982 and had a breakthrough in 1992 with "The Crying Game." He's always worked, no matter what, and persevered.
In 2001, he starred in and executive-produced a wonderful film called "Green Dragon" that no one saw. How frustrating. His best actors win for "The Last King of Scotland" is hard-won and much deserved.
Of course, the real payoff from this awards season was for Martin Scorsese. How could a man with such a breathtaking resume not have gotten something in all these years? The list of credits is so remarkable that I often heard people say over the weekend, "Oh, 'The Departed' isn't really his best stuff." I disagree.
"The Departed," in fact, distills the best of Scorsese's genius, from the opening notes of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" to the rat nibbling on the railing. What makes "The Departed" are all those little pieces that seem so insignificant but hold the movie together: Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin's bickering, for example, or the hilariously complex relationship between Matt Damon (who is underrated in this film) and Jack Nicholson.
Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker are working at a level far superior to anything else in film. They are actually making cinema.
There is almost nothing of this left in the movie business now, with the exception of Woody Allen, who can still pull it off, and Pedro Almodovar, who was snubbed in 2007 by the Oscars. Only Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg match Scorsese for grandness of thought and for seeing the big picture.
And then there were the non-winners made a big impression, Jackie Earle Haley was a revelation in "Little Children." Annette Bening did miraculous stuff in "Running With Scissors," a movie that fell apart even as she continued to shine.
Completely forgotten were Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson in the sublime "Stranger Than Fiction." Laurence Fishburne and Freddy Rodriguez have a memorable scene in "Bobby" that everyone should see, and Bill Nighy nearly steals "Notes on a Scandal" from the brilliant duo of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.
There were more and others, but we are done with the movies of 2006. For the record, I thought Ellen DeGeneres was terrific as the Oscar host. Giving Scorsese a script was funny, and the vacuuming worked too.
Feh on the armchair critics who wait to rip the show apart anyway. In the Kodak Theatre, the Academy Awards came off smoothly. The only moments of real cringing came during the strange Pilobolus Dance numbers and the far-too-frequent clip montages. During some of them, I actually couldn't figure out the themes.
But the comics' number was funny, and the "Dreamgirls" production was exciting. Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson were a nice touch for the ending — they are the Hollywood heavyweights now.
But where was Dustin Hoffman? He was in town. And where are Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts, Jane Fonda, Sally Field and Tom Hanks?
There should almost be a rule that former Oscar winners be around for each years' ceremony as part of their acceptance of the awards. It's the closest Hollywood could come to a civic duty.