Oscars Party Diary: Inside the A-List Parties and Events

1:45 PM 2/25/2016

by Chris Gardner and THR staff

THR's reporters and editors are in the final stretch of the awards-season events circuit, giving detailed accounts of what's really happening inside the hottest parties.

Oscar_Party_Guide - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Oscar_Party_Guide - Getty - H 2016

After months and months of campaigning, the big show is finally days away. But first: the final lap of fanfare leading up to Sunday night's 88th annual Academy Awards telecast. The red carpet has been placed in chic locations all over Los Angeles and THR's team will go past the velvet rope to take you inside this year's hottest events (see THR's complete party guide).

Below is a rundown of all the action with updates coming every day. 

  • Elton John's Viewing Party

    “It’s hard to believe that it’s our 24th Oscar party,” Elton John said of the annual benefit for his AIDS Foundation.

    “I remember the first one very well,” the singer added. “We raised about $300,000 and we thought we were the best thing since sliced bread.”

    How times have changed: On this night, the event would go on to raise $6.2 million by evening’s end. Undoubtedly, the main draw for guests was John, who served not only as host but also as the entertainment, performing with his band at the bash for the first time in nearly a decade.

    “Obviously in the business we all work in, the Oscars are so important,” said Chris Hardwick. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not. And so a party like this that is for charity makes you realize: Oh, yeah, saving lives is the actual most important thing in the world.”

    Mary Wilson of the Supremes happened to be the second singer to enter after Elton, but which one is the bigger diva? “In size? Elton, not me,” joked Wilson, who believes that the entertainment industry has come a long way in terms of embracing diversity. “I can tell you that when the Supremes started out, we drank out of water fountains that said: ‘For colored people only.’ ”

    Andie MacDowell, meanwhile, pointed out the progress made by the LGBT community. “Elton is the original gay man,” she said. “He was not afraid to be who he was very early on. He’s charming, smart, slightly bitchy — but in a perfect way, like you would hope.”

    And, as singer Bonnie McKee pointed out, John’s appeal is seemingly timeless. “Elton is one of the most exciting performers alive today,” she said. “He’s set so many trends and broken boundaries, and someone like Lady Gaga wouldn’t exist without Elton John.”

    Inside the Oscar viewing party, guests dined on a five-course dinner while watching the ceremony seated at an array of circular tables topped with centerpieces of red lilies amidst a lavish color scheme of magenta, tangerine and violet. “It’s Old Hollywood with a modern twist,” said Tommy Hilfiger after exchanging air-kisses with Mariah Carey.

    Nearby, Transparent’s Jeffrey Tambor had a man-to-man conversation with the singer of “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” Steven Tyler. The Academy Awards seemed to be of little interest to John, who missed Sam Smith’s performance in favor of catching up with Beck and similarly chatted intently with Sheryl Crow while The Weeknd performed; only Lady Gaga’s ballad drew Elton’s attention to the screens hanging overhead. (Ironically, chef Gordon Ramsay, who was seated on the outskirts of the room at table 35, was one of the latter guests to be served his own cooking.)

    After dinner and a live auction that included a “five-day shag-athon” at the Maui vacation home of Tyler, according to the auctioneer, John quipped: “I’m now going to change into something a little spectacular.”

    John soon reemerged onstage in — what else? — a rhinestone-studded jacket to perform a 12-song greatest hits set along with songs from his new album, Wonderful Crazy Night, which he gifted to guests. “If you don’t want to play it, you can use them as frisbees or coasters,” John joked.

    Additional attendees included Andrew Rannells, Anthony Anderson, Ashlee Simpson, Ashley Greene, Ashley Tisdale, Bellamy Young, Boy George, Brandy, Brittany Snow, Charlotte McKinney, Cheyenne Jackson, Dave Grohl (spotted slow dancing with wife Jordyn during Elton's version of "Your Song"), Dave Navarro, Dita Von Teese, Emily Ratajkowski, Eric McCormack, Erika Christensen, Evan Ross, Hailey Baldwin, Harry Shum Jr., Heidi Klum, Hilary Swank, Ian Somerhalder, Keegan-Michael Key, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland, La La Anthony, Lana Del Rey, Lea Michele, Lydia Hearst, Maggie Grace, Mary J. Blige, Nikki Reed, Russell Simmons, Tracee Ellis Ross,Trey Parker, Vince Vaughn, Zac Posen, Zooey Deschanel, among others.

    Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank arrives in an Audi Q7 to the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party at West Hollywood Park on Feb. 28, 2016. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Audi)

    Sponsors included: BVLGARI, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Neuro Drinks and Diana Jenkins. Audi, BBVA Compass, TheBLUEFISH, and StyleHaul partnered as the evening’s co-sponsors. American Airlines serves as EJAF’s official airline.


    — Reporting by James Patrick Herman

  • Jamie Foxx, Anthony Anderson Party Join Mercedes-Benz, African American Film Critics Association for Viewing Party

    4:43 p.m. Blackish star Anthony Anderson is one of the first stars to arrive on the red carpet and, thus, one of the first to discuss diversity. “It’s an award show. That isn’t the problem,” Anderson explains. “The problem is with the gatekeepers who are in charge of the how, when and why and what films are being made. So that’s where we need to start. I’m out here to celebrate to see who’s going to win but it’s also about getting the work as an actor and having the opportunity it’s not because of the Oscars that we have a lack of opportunity.”

    4:45 p.m. African American Film Critics Association president and co-founder Gil Robertson is a gracious (and busy) host, meeting and greeting celebs as they enter the ballroom. He directs some stars to the Guerlain Make-Up booth and Fromm hair counter.

    5:06 p.m. Shadowhunters star Isaiah Mustafa hits the red carpet in a classic tux he says was difficult not to wrinkle. “I didn’t limo. I didn’t Uber. I drove my truck here. You have to find a way to place the seat back just right so you don’t ruin your suit. It’s a real challenge out there.” Mustafa also shared with THR his drink of choice: “Don Julio 1942 Tequila — neat. On the rocks dilutes it.”

    5:30 p.m. Everyone gets quiet to watch Chris Rock’s monologue.

    5:37 p.m. Rock’s Rihanna jokes gets a loud reception from the men in the room.

    5:42 p.m. When Rock brings up the issue of "opportunity," Anderson and other guests applaud.

    5:50 p.m. Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx arrives. After having already been name-checked on the show, he applauds Rock's hosting skills. He says: “That’s my boy. And I didn’t want him to be put in a position where people thought he wasn’t black enough, and it did put him in that position where he had to talk about [diversity] than opposed to just everyone’s night. He did a fantastic job. But that’s tough and people don’t understand when you are a comedian we’re hired to make sure everything’s great whatever it is. It couldn’t have been a better person than Rock to have done it.” 

    6:10 p.m. People gasp when Stacey Dash walks out onto the Oscars stage. “Who the hell invited her?” said one confused guest. The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore says it's "weird" seeing the regular Fox News contributor appear onscreen. “Half of those people don’t even know who she is. It wasn’t funny. She went from Clueless to Fox News, and I don’t think people know that. So to bring her out when people probably know her from being political and being against black history month was not good," Moore says.

    8:11 p.m. THR asks The 100 actress Adina Porter for her opinion on the show. “I didn’t realize what that was going on at the bottom of the screen,” Porter says, referring to the winner's scroll. “I thought it was hashtags of the people who won or something. I guess they're trying to cut the speeches to stop rambling, but that’s where all the drama happens. So that needs to go.”

    9:05 p.m. The room breaks into massive applause and screams for Leonardo DiCaprio’s best actor win for The Revenant. Ray Donovan actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is ecstatic and pulls out her phone to Instagram the moment, adding, “Leonardo DiCaprio just won best actor! You know he’s an honorary black man. He is the black man that we’ve got. His name is Leo and that’s as good as being black.”

    Other attendees included: Tracee Ellis Ross, Wesley Snipes, Thandie Newton, Beverly Johnson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Dale Godboldo, Tamala Jones, Jimmy Jean Louis, Johnny Whitworth, Desmond Faison, Anthony Hemingway, Regina Taylor, Angel Parker, Navid Negahban and Alain Washnevsky.

    — Reporting by Destiny Jackson

  • Alfre Woodard's 7th Annual Oscars Sistahs Soiree Draws Rosario Dawson

    7:09 p.m. For a party that started at 7 p.m., the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse is already playing host to the hostess of the night, Alfre Woodard, and a healthy number of guests including Yolonda Ross, Regina Taylor, Aja Naomi King and Emayatzy Corinealdi.

    7:13 p.m. "Looking good, darling," Woodard gushes to Corinealdi as they walk towards the step-and-repeat to pose for photos.

    7:14 p.m. Woodard's rep, Block-Korenbrot Public Relations partner and awards guru Melody Korenbrot, tells THR that she's been walking with the use of a cane for three weeks due to the flare-up of a knee problem that her doctor says is a torn meniscus. She's scheduled surgery for the week after the Oscars and can't wait to get it over with. The big surprise? Her doctor says the injury happened 18 years ago during a skiing accident at Big Bear, Calif., but it just got worse now.

    7:17 p.m.: Even though the #OscarsSoWhite controversy picked up steam in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Woodard quickly shut down any talk that the tone of her event would be affected by Hollywood's hot-button topic. "All of those conversations we have had for decades. We carry on in spite of that reality. This is a celebration of each other and we have a good time together," she tells THR. But this year's event features fewer famous faces, a fact that Woodard is fine with. "There are seven women who can't get here because they are on set. Kerry (Washington), Chandra (Wilson) is getting here late, Viola (Davis) and Tracee (Ellis Ross) and others. All of these women are No. 1 or No. 2 on their call sheets. That's a cool thing because it means it's a great year and everybody is working." Woodard managed to get out of her shooting schedule, flying in from New York where she's filming the new Marvel series Luke Cage for Netflix. The gig means she's going to cut her hosting duties off at 10:30 p.m. so she can sleep a few hours, leave L.A. at 6 a.m. and head back to set on the East Coast. Departures aside, she's looking forward to the real party, which starts when the journalists and camera crews have left the penthouse suite. "It's a real bonding session and because we are creative people, it does get loud and rowdy and bawdy and weepy and hysterical and everything. It's our time together."

    And Woodard says that time isn't spent talking about awards or competition. "I'm not interested in awards, like the Olympics when people get crazy about the United States and how much we've won. It's not about the medals or the sport in the art and the craft of what we do. It's the ability we have to tell stories, to get funding for good writers and to get women and people of color into every part of the process," she says.

    Emayatzy Corinealdi and Yolonda Ross attend Alfre Woodard's 7th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree presented by Tanqueray No. Ten And Perennial Sports & Entertainment inside the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse at the London West Hollywood on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Miss Maglashan Productions)

    7:26 p.m. Fresh from Sundance and her breakout role in Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation, actress Aja Naomi King smiles thinking about the fact that she's inside Woodard's soiree for the first time ever. "You can't help but hear about this event and I just never thought I would be here and that someone would want to include me," she says. "It feels like walking into a warm hug. Coming here is like having a Sunday dinner." Speaking of Sunday, King's Oscar weekend plans include the MPTF's Night Before Party, InStyle's Oscar Viewing Party at Brentwood's Baltaire and the Vanity Fair party. Basically, nothing like her Oscar night in 2015. "I laid on the couch with my sister and ate pizza. This will be a little different."

    Tanqueray No. Ten bar at Alfre Woodard's 7th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree presented by Tanqueray No. Ten and Perennial Sports & Entertainment in the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse at the London in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Miss Maglashan Productions)

    7:37 p.m. On the outdoor terrace upstairs, Corinealdi surveys the guests mingling by the bar and comments that Woodard's party intentions come from a beautiful and pure place. "It makes sense that each year the room is filled with people who mean well and want well for each other," says the actress, who has attended three years in a row and appreciates that they all swap numbers, advice and stay in touch. "Everyone is trying to make it to this next point so to be able to stop and love and be loved on by your peers is wonderful. Everything we discuss helps me."

    8:02 p.m. Event designer/producer David Merrell of AOO Events tells THR that his job was simple: "My intention was to extend Alfre's personality. She likes roses, orchids, purple and pink. And then you add the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse and you've got a gorgeous space. It's really just an extension of Alfre's personality and a way to honor this group of ladies."

    Atmosphere at Alfre Woodard's 7th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree presented by Tanqueray No. Ten and Perennial Sports & Entertainment in the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse at the London in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Miss Maglashan Productions)

    8:16 p.m. Lorraine Toussaint explains why she's back at Woodard's party for a seventh year. "It's rare to have this many of my peers in one room, and we blow the myth out of the water that somehow actresses aren't friends and don't support each other and are competitive. It's more like a lodge meeting because we get to come together and talk about our families and our work and our careers and we have a common experience here." But what do they talk about when the ladies have the party all to themselves? "I can't give you hints because we we discuss here stays here."

    8:32 p.m. Jurnee Smollett-Bell has made it to all but one of the Oscars Sistahs Soirees. "Alfre has been my mentor since I was 12 years old. She's part of my village. We're on the board of an organization called Artists for a New South Africa, and she's taken me to South Africa. What I love so much about Alfre is the work she does off-camera. The activism the way that she mothers and mentors people. For me, it was important for me to come here because my soul needed it. The conversation that we all have when you all leave, it's food for my soul," says the actress, who is fresh from Washington D.C. where she attended a screening of her upcoming WGN America series Underground at the White House. As for the diversity conversation, she says, "It can become a hashtag one year, but it's our reality. We live it. It's not new to us. I don't think the tone will be any different than it will be in the past. it's not about the awards, it's about the opportunities."

    Yolonda Ross, Rosario Dawson, Aja Naomi King attend Alfre Woodard's 7th Annual Oscar's Sistahs Soiree presented by Tanqueray No. Ten and Perennial Sports & Entertainment in the Vivienne Westwood Penthouse at the London in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Miss Maglashan Productions)

    8:39 p.m. Aisha Tyler is excited for "a really fun night. This isn't about commiserating as it is about uplifting and sharing stories and encouraging and there is a lot of laughter."

    8:40 p.m. Rosario Dawson explains that it's not all hugs and harmony. "Some of us are new to the industry and others are more seasoned and we come in different sizes, shapes and colors with different careers. it's a revelation to come together and challenge each other's opinions. Some of us are very steadfast about our personal experiences being the experience and that's not true. We don't always agree with each other and we challenge each other."

    8:41 p.m. The actress, who starred opposite Chris Rock in his Top Five, says her good friend is "going to represent" on Sunday as the host of the Oscars. "I love him so much. I know he's going to represent. I'm really proud he will be there."

    Other attendees included Anika Noni Rose, LaTanya Richardson, Loretta Devine, Margaret Avery and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

  • Stevie Wonder and Charlie Puth Perform at Global Green’s Pre-Oscars Gala

    6:38 p.m. The green carpet is a-buzz as the night’s opening performer, Charlie Puth, hits the press line. THR asks him about opening for the legendary Stevie Wonder. Puth reveals that the two had kinda sorta worked together before. Making his own harmonica sounds, Puth recalls his attempt to record harmonica work for Jason Derulo who “went to the White House and saw Stevie there and played for him. Stevie started playing the harmonica part from memory. Stevie Wonder was playing my song.” Another fun memory: Puth says he almost teared up watching his pal Meghan Trainor win the Best New Artist Grammy last week. “Maybe next year I’ll be where she is.”

    6:42 p.m. London Has Fallen star Radha Mitchell arrives shortly after Puth in a green jump suit. She expresses her gratitude “to even be involved with such an economically conscious organization.”

    7:05 p.m. Comedian Heather McDonald does her own part to live a more green existence by “having our own chickens for nine months now. They’re really cute and they can run free so we don’t have to buy eggs anymore. We have fake green grass in our yard that looks really good, but I’m always telling everybody so they don’t think I’m watering it!”

    7:15 p.m. Wonder hits the green carpet. A reporter standing near his exit asks him how long he’s been an avid supporter of Global Green USA. “I’ve always been a supporter, but especially after coming here after doing the Ed Sullivan Show, I realized how hot California had become. Now we’ve got crazy weather. Glaciers are melting. We have to really put our spirits in the right place and handle the business of treating our planet kindly.”

    Stevie Wonder accepts the Global Green Hero Award with Kailand Morris and Kai Morris onstage during Global Green USA's 13th annual pre-Oscar party at Mr. C Beverly Hills on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Global Green)

    8:10 p.m. Les McCabe, President & CEO of Global Green USA takes his place at the front stage of the outdoor, vine covered patio to address the supporters of the cause. “Thank you all for coming out to bring awareness to such an important moment for Global Green,” he says.

    8:30 p.m. Waiters hurry around and start dinner service, which begins with organically grown bean salad with beats and wine. Maggie Grace and Scandal’s Mía Maestro stop by Josh Radnor’s table to protest, “We’re sitting so far from you! How long are you staying?” Guests who stayed enjoyed the Cipriani cuisine that included baked tagliolini with mushroom vegetarian option and a risotto alla Cipriani vegan option.

    10:15 p.m. Dinner ends and the performances start. Puth goes first, performing his hit “See You Again.” “This is an honor to be here. Thanks for listening to me knowing that Stevie Wonder is waiting in the wings ready for his turn.”

    10:46 p.m. Wonder makes his way to his piano and the crowd jumps out of their seats to hang on his every song choice. Tickling the keys, Stevie decides “let’s start with one that you all might know” and busts out “My Cherie Amour.” The energy continues as Wonder moves from “Overjoyed” to “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “Higher Ground.”

    11:11 p.m. Wonder pauses to address politics. “The only thing I want to say about this whole political thing is where is the humility? These people running are missing the point. Let’s not make the social media what it’s becoming: a cesspool. Let’s spread positivity through it instead.”

    Singer-songwriter Jimmy Demers, Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, former model Cheryl Tiegs, songwriter Donnie Demers and TV personality Paula Abdul attend Global Green USA's 13th annual pre-Oscar party at Mr. C Beverly Hills on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Global Green)

    11:16 p.m. Just as the night feels like it’s ready to close, Wonder pulls out two final tracks to keep the gala going. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” brings everyone to their feet, phones in the air ready to record every second. Without saying a word, the track dissolves quickly into “Superstition” which brings out whistles and hops from the audience. “You all know the words. Take it away before we go!”

    11:20 p.m. As the final notes of his last hit echo through the night, Wonder thanks the crowd for a good time. Guests funnel to the Mr. C lobby to snag gift bags full of environmentally conscious products. “I wonder how this will compare to the Oscars bag,” asks one curious guest.

    Other attendees included Jason Ritter, Melanie Lynskey, Courtney Love, Paula Abdul, Ed O'Neil, Emily Ratajkowski, Matt Walsh, Daphne Zuniga and Justin Baldoni. Sponsors included Earth Friendly Products, LAcarGUY, Aquafil, Milliken, LUX & ECO, Planet Experts, Coco Eco Magazine, Jax Coco, Schmidts Deodorant, Eco Tools, the Butchers Daughter, Sustain Condoms, E Boxed Water, Purely Elizabeth, Gather Journal, Sebastian Copeland and Terrain.

    Farleigh Hungerford, filmmaker Charlotte Colbert, artist Philip Colbert and Izzy Lawrence attend Global Green USA's 13th annual pre-Oscar party at Mr. C Beverly Hills on Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Global Green)

    — Reporting by Evan Slead

  • Daisy Ridley to Record Song With "Massive Superstar"

    7:35 p.m. Steven Spielberg, whose Bridge of Spies is nominated for best picture, arrives with wife Kate Capshaw.

    8:10 p.m. Time to start the awards ceremony. “Where is J.J.?” the wife of the Star Wars: Episode VII director, Katie McGrath, wants to know. (He’s still downstairs.)

    Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw and J.J. Abrams attend the Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot in Santa Monica on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)

    8:16 p.m. Abrams finally arrives at the rooftop stage. “I love this because it’s a night of fun and merriment and no stress; there’s no pressure, no tension,” he says, “and then I come up here and hear, ‘J.J.! Get up here now!’ So I was wrong.”

    8:21 p.m. Penny Dreadful actress Greene, from Cork, talks about how Abrams’ choice of filming a Star Wars scene on Skellig Michael on Ireland’s west coast created “great buzz in Ireland. I saw in Glanearagh not far from where it was shot that people were saying they saw Harrison Ford [having a meal].”

    8:25 p.m. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol thanks Trina Vargo’s U.S.-Ireland Alliance, the nonprofit that puts on the event, but notes how serious the organization sounds, “like we were going to war with ISIS or maybe Donald Trump. I didn’t realize it was going to be a political rally.” On the difference between L.A. and Ireland: “When someone from L.A. asks, ‘Do you want to go out for a beer?’ they mean just one beer. When someone from Ireland asks, ‘Do you want to go out for a beer?’ what they mean is, ‘Maybe I’ll be home tonight. I wouldn’t count on it.’” Speaking directly to Abrams, he jokes, “I don’t know if you remember, but two years ago me [and Snow Patrol’s bass player, Paul Wilson] met you at Soho House and we said, ‘Could we be Stormtroopers?’ and you said yes. And then we never got the call! Daniel Craig got the call, but not us?!”

    8:32 p.m. As he introduces Ridley, his Star Wars lead actress who played Rey, Abrams notes that during casting, “we saw every actor who apparently exists. When she first read, I remember doing a Google search to see what else she had done, and there was nothing. I typed in ‘Daisy Ridley,’ and nothing came up. Pictures of flowers came up, a Ridley Scott biography come up. Now, type in ‘da’ and Daisy Ridley [immediately] comes up — which means Daniel Day-Lewis is pissed.”

    Daisy Ridley arrives at the 2016 Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

    8:33 p.m. Abrams then broke a bit of news on Ridley's behalf, telling the audience that the actress is scheduled on Saturday to “record a song with a massive superstar person, on Sunday she’s presenting an Oscar, and Monday she’s flying back to the U.K. to star in Episode 8 … Daisy’s life is a bit like Rey’s; she’s on a crazy adventure, and it’s just beginning.”

    8:35 p.m. Ridley takes the stage and thanks her CAA agent, Hylda Queally, whom she calls her “L.A. mom” and “the most glamorous woman I have ever met.” To Abrams: “I was clueless as to what it takes to make a film. … Your set was the stuff of dreams, it never felt difficult — except that one time I was hit accidentally during the fight and then I fell over and I cried.”

    8:41 p.m. Before Abrahamson accepts his award, Abrams calls him “the only other Irish Jew here.” The Dublin-born director will attend the Oscars with his wife, Monica, and mom, Edna. He noted that after making a short film, he was at Stanford, studying philosophy as a post-grad student while mulling a career in show business. To be in the movies, “It didn’t occur to me that I could travel 500 miles south to L.A. I left California to go back to Dublin for my career. It’s only taken me 25 years to get back.”

    Daisy Ridley, James Corden and Sarah Greene attend the Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot in Santa Monica on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)

    8:45 p.m. Corden, the event’s “honorary Irishman,” revealed the Star Wars director is responsible for him hosting The Late Late Show. “A couple of years ago, I had a phone call from my agent saying J.J. Abrams has called and there’s a part in Star Wars he’s really interested in you for. As you can imagine, I lost my shit. ‘He’s coming into town in a couple weeks, he’d love to have a coffee and a little catch-up.’ J.J. flies into London, J.J. leaves London. ‘Any news on Star Wars?’ ‘Yeah, they’ve rewritten the part as a woman.’ Which is bad enough, except that I had the exact same conversation for a part in Game of Thrones! It’s moments like this that make you say, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to host a late-night talk show.’”

    Also in attendance: actors Joanne Froggatt and Idris Elba, screenwriter Roberto Orci, Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns, HBO Films president Len Amato, Paramount Television president Amy Powell, CAA’s Richard Lovett, Kevin Huvane, Joel Lubin and Joe Cohen and Oscar nominees Ed Guiney (Room producer), Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey (Star Wars film editors), Neal Scanlan and Roger Guyett (Star Wars visual effects) and Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage and Jamie Donoughue (for the short films Stutterer and Shok, respectively).

    — Reporting by Mike Barnes

  • Hollywood's Sound Department Stars Celebrate Oscar Nominees at Dolby Laboratories

    7:10 p.m. The party is scheduled to start at 7:00 and guests are already being photographed at the step and repeat, and enjoying drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

    7:25 p.m. Four-time Oscar nominated ADR mixer Doc Kane — who has worked on many of Disney and Pixar’s animated films including Beauty and the Beast and Ratatouille — is surrounding by a group of guests. Kane, who last weekend won a Cinema Audio Society Award for Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, and also received the organization’s Career Achievement Award, had just completed voice recording on Pixar’s upcoming Finding Dory that afternoon. This week he worked with actors in the film including Albert Brooks and Idris Elba.

    7:51 p.m. Dolby vet David W. Gray — recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award (an Oscar statuette) at last year’s Scientific and Technical Academy Awards presentation — is greeting guests, after spending the day at the Dolby Theatre for Oscar preparations. He described the history of the Dolby Oscar celebration, which has been an annual event for roughly two decades. “It started as an open house,” he admitted, adding that the date kept getting pushed back. “And it ended up an Oscar celebration.”

    8:38 p.m. Chatting with some of The Martian’s sound team, including nominees Oliver Tarney (sound editing) and Paul Massey (sound mixing). He tells THR about NASA’s effort to send astronauts on the lengthy journey to Mars. Massey sees an opportunity to make good use of the travel time, joking “we could mix two movies on the way.”

    9:05 p.m. Guests are coming in and out of the Dolby Atmos-equipped Dolby Screening Room, where they can view clips of the nominees in the sound editing and sound mixing category. “It’s sounds great, fantastic,” says one guest.

    Also in attendance: Members of The Revenant sound team, Lon Bender (sound editing) and Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montano and Chris Duesterdiek (sound mixing); Alan Robert Murray, sound editing nominee for Sicario; Cinema Audio Society president Mark Ulano (The Hateful Eight); Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) president Frank Morrone, re-recording mixer at Technicolor; MPSE president elect, Sony Pictures Studios’ Tom McCarthy; and Dolby’s Curt Behlmer, a member of the Academy Board of Governors (sound branch.)

    — Reporting by Carolyn Giardina

  • 'Modern Family' Stars Party at Cadillac's First-Ever Oscar Week Bash

    8:24 p.m. Ty Burrell, looking dapper in a gray J. Crew three-piece suit tells THR that he loves the idea of the new Oscar scroll set to be introduced during Sunday’s telecast. As a multiple Emmy Award-winner, he knows the challenges of trying to thank all the right people. “That’s fantastic. I think it’s great. It’s a very difficult balance to try to thank the people who really helped you to be in that position but also to express anything else — whatever else you’re feeling grateful for. It’s hard to squeeze it all in.”

    8:29 p.m. Dakota Fanning walks by, clutching a white Chanel shopping bag. “She must be going back to her room,” explains a publicist. Seconds later, Ashley Benson passes by, also with Chanel bag. The fashion house is hosting an “I Love Coco” beauty event at nearby Bar Marmont.

    8:34 p.m. Alicia Vikander breezes by and the waiting photographers don’t notice her skipping the black carpet and making her way inside the hotel, as she looks low-key with minimal makeup and an all-black ensemble. 

    8:41 p.m. Jesse Tyler Ferguson says he’ll be watching the Oscars “in comfortable clothes at home and then I will put on a tux and go to Vanity Fair.” So basically what everyone wishes they could do? “I’m living the dream,” he jokes.

    8:45 p.m. Christoph Waltz walks the carpet and when a publicist asks if he’s up for any interviews, he quickly says no. “I have nothing to say,” says the multiple Oscar winner.

    8:52 p.m. Arthur Max, an Oscar nominee for best production design for his work on The Martian with Celia Bobak, tells THR that he’s stoked to be in Los Angeles, where he lives, to attend the Oscar week festivities — finally. “I’m usually off in some distant location working on a production. I’ve missed out on most of these things so usually I just fly in for an awards event and fly right out,” he says. He’s made use of his time, telling THR that she’s already filled out his text for the winners scroll should he make it to the stage on Sunday night. “I did it with my set decorator and you’re only allowed 80 words between the two of us and most names are two words each so we split it 40 and 40. It was hard to prioritize and there were a lot of names that we couldn’t list. We went over the list together,” he says, praising the new initiative. “It’s a little uninteresting for the audience. It’s great for the people who are being named and thanked but it becomes a list of names and it’s more interesting to speak from the heart and express your feelings about the project and pick out one or two people.”

    9:09 p.m. Kelly Rowland arrives. She’s attended the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon (Oprah Winfrey was there!) earlier in the day. “It’s always a beautiful event,” she comments. “It’s very rare you go to a Hollywood event and black women are allowed to be honest with each other.”

    914 p.m. Abigail Spencer arrives and tells THR why she’s here. "Michael Patrick is a good friend of mine, I love supporting him. He’s so wonderful and I bet a lot of people here are supporting him," she explains of the communications executive who departed his longtime post with Audi to join Cadillac. "But also I love the new Cadillacs, I was just in one. You can fit eight kids in the back." She also loves her new project and is headed to Vancouver in a week to shoot a lead role in Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke’s pilot Time for NBC. “I’m stoked. It’s Indiana Jones meets Quantum Leap and I get to play the Indiana Jones part. It’s pretty cool. I love the character and I love everything about it.” Why is the character so cool? “I love that her superpower is her intellect. She’s a historian and she’s really, really smart and she definitely gets herself into hot water and becomes the accidental hero.”

    9:43 p.m. Inside the main lobby, events guru Chad Hudson greets fashion guru Johnny Wujek, who is weaving his way through the party with a bunch of well-dressed male pals, including Markus Molinari.

    9:45 p.m. Outside by the carpet, Fanning is again walking up towards the hotel. She must’ve snuck out again and is now headed back to her room.

    DJ Michelle Pesce feels the music at the Cadillac Oscars Week Celebration at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Cadillac)

    Tim Witherspoon, Kelly Rowland and guests attend the Cadillac Oscars Week Celebration at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Cadillac)

    Kate Walsh and Allison Janney attend the Cadillac Oscars Week Celebration at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Cadillac)

    Guests attend the Cadillac Oscars Week Celebration at Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood on Feb. 25, 2016. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Cadillac)

    Also in attendance: Joanne Froggatt, Allison Janney, Kate Walsh, Andrew Rannells, Samantha Barks, Jack Fox, Kim Raver, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Paul Wesley and more. Cadillac is the official vehicle sponsor of the Academy Awards and the company will also debut an all-new series of its “Dare Greatly” ads during Sunday’s show. Many of the night's guests and VIPs were chauffeured to the Chateau in the all-new 2016 Cadillac CT6.

    — Reporting by Chris Gardner


  • Jennifer Lawrence, Patricia Arquette Speak at Women in Film Event

    6:15 p.m. Charlotte Rampling is one of the first Oscar nominees to arrive. They’re each given a large white flower to wear to honor their nominations. She poses with photos before setting up camp in a corner booth. She’s asked if she’ll take more photos later in the night when the other nominees arrive. "I don't think she'll end up staying that long," says an assistant. 

    6:45 p.m. The Office actress Kate Flannery's Oscar night plans will be set in Omaha, where she’ll perform on her musical comedy tour “See Jane Sing” with Jane Lynch. “There are a lot more men here than usual,” jokes the actress as the room begins to fill up. 

    7:15 p.m. Emma Donoghue, novelist and Oscar-nominated screenwriter for Room, sits in a corner to give her sore feet a break after a busy past few days. “I was so happy for [director] Lenny [Abrahamson.] That was the nicest surprise,” she says of the helmer’s directing nomination. The Irish-Canadian writer, who is currently working on adapting another of her books, revealed that Jacob Tremblay, the young star of Room, spent the day at Universal Studios with another young actor: Beasts of No Nation’s Abraham Attah.

    7:20 p.m. Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren (nominated with Lady Gaga for “Til It Happens to You”) chats with Frances Fisher on a couch. “I love her,” she’s heard whispering later about fellow partygoer Patricia Arquette.

    7:28 p.m. Maria Bello weaves her way through the now crowded room, passing by a couch where Josh Gad poses for photos with Kate Walsh and Shameless actress Sasha Alexander. 

    7:39 p.m. Oscar-nominated costume designer Sandy Powell, wearing a “Straight Outta Braxton” T-shirt, poses for photos with a friend. The friend asks a passerby to take photos on both her digital camera and iPhone. “I love it. Can you send me that right now?” she asks her friend as they flip through the pictures.

    7:40 p.m. Appropriately, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” is playing as WIF’s LA President Cathy Schulman gathers the honorees by the stage. Arquette, it turns out, was not expecting to speak at the event. “What am I saying?” Arquette asks. Someone responds: “Whatever you want to say.”

    7:43 p.m. “What an incredible year of hard work and changes for the better,” says Schulman as she begins her speech. “Remember when this party was 15 people at Peter Guber’s house?” She spoke about how the group will continue to fight to rid the system of unconscious bias and pay parity issues. “We are entreating into the studios, the networks, the agencies, to make change from the inside out. No more talking about it outside, no more dealing with it just as philanthropy. This is a business issue."

    7:50 p.m. Arquette is called to the stage. “I said some things last year that caused a little bit of a wave, the troublemaker that I am,” she said, referring to her comments demanding equal pay. While Arquette may not have been expecting to speak at the WIF event, she easily shared statistics and other information about the gender pay gap and other inequalities in the industry. “When I was talking about pay inequality, it wasn’t just about Hollywood, it was really the bigger picture of all women in America,” she said. She encouraged everyone to go to change.org to sign the petition for the Equal Rights Amendment. “We have to have actual gender equality in the United States Constitution,” she said. She also gave a shout out to Jennifer Lawrence for her own activism on the issue. “These brave women like Jennifer Lawrence, who are standing up and talking about pay inequality and getting a bunch of bullshit for it when the reality is millions of women desperately need this.”

    7:56 p.m. Schulman points out that Lawrence is sitting in the crowd. “Thank you for everything you've done this year,” she says to her, inviting her up to say a few words. Lawrence shyly agrees to come onstage.

    7:57 p.m. “This is the second night in a row this has happened to me,” Lawrence joked about taking the stage unprepared. “I’m a big fan of Patricia Arquette. I actually played her once. And, I know what I’m doing after this: I'm going to go to change.org/era to sign that petition.” Lawrence left soon after her impromptu remarks.

    Other attendees included Alicia Vikander, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Parent, Lake Bell, Christina Vachon, Tom Hooper, Cassian Elwes, Bonnie Arnold, Tom McCarthy and Adepero Oduye.

    - Reporting by Rebecca Ford


  • Nate Parker, Anthony Anderson Attend Ebony Magazine and Apple Celebrate Black Hollywood Party

    9:48 p.m. Nate Parker hits the red carpet and Anthony Anderson stops him to congratulate him on his Sundance hit Birth of a Nation. “How did you write, star and direct that thing man?” said Anderson to Parker. 

    9:55 p.m. Anderson tells reporters on the red carpet that the responses to the Black-ish  Black Lives Matter-centered episode have been “overwhelming.” Black-ish co-star Yara Shahidi tells reporters on the carpet that after reading roles where she would play the “token black girl” or the “black friend” that her role on Black-ish felt “refreshing.”

    According to The Associated Press, Nate Parker tells the crowd inside "If we are going to move forward and use this moment as a movement, I think we have to recognize that everything we need to validate ourselves is in this room, right now. Let's not get consumed with begging to be allowed in other rooms when all the tools we need are here."

    Anderson follows up saying, "Now it's up to us to come together and make something happen," he said. "How are we going to band together to become our own United Artists and own our own library and own our own studios and own networks? That's what it's about, it's about ownership. .. I stand before you owning Black-ish.

    10:10 p.m. Most attendees on the red carpet agree that Chris Rock will ace his Oscar hosting gig. Don Lemon tells reporters Rock is going to annihilate Hollywood.  "I think often through humor and comedy the truth comes out," said Lemon.

    10:45 p.m. Nick Cannon is DJ for the night as he spins classic hits from Usher, The Jackson Five, and Rihanna's new single "Work." Clips from Creed, Dope, Girlhood, Chi-raq, Bessie and Concussion are projected on the walls as well as historical black photos spotlighting prominent African American figures including Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

    10:50 p.m. Cannon plays “Jump on It” and tells the crowd to “get their Fresh Prince on.” The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro, in attendance with his wife, begins to do a dance that the cast always performed to this song.

    10:58 p.m. Nate Parker is the man of the hour as everyone stops him to talk and congratulate him on his success including Earth Wind & Fire’s Verdine White, Yara Shahidi,  Robert Townsend, Byron Allen, Boris, Kodjoe and How to Get Away With Murder’s Kendrick Sampson.

    11:05 p.m. Everyone is hitting the dance floor. Anderson gets down to The Jackson Five while Brandy dances her way over to the bar for a drink. Ebony Magazine publisher Linda Johnson Rice, Sheryl Lee Ralph and more participate in dancing the electric slide, cha cha slide and the wobble. Parker is trying to leave the venue, but makes a point to speak with everyone who stops him to talk. 

    - Reporting by Arlene Washington


  • Animation VIPs Mingle at DreamWorks Brunch

    10:39 a.m. Guests are mingling, many with mimosas in hand. DWA’s co-president of feature animation and veteran producer Bonnie Arnold is greeting guests while sipping a pink cosmo. “It’s a small and close community,” Arnold says of the reason to bring everyone together.

    10:47 a.m. “It’s overwhelming,” said Anomalisa producer Rosa Tran of her first Oscar experience, adding that she was excited to recently participate on a panel with nominees, including those from Pixar and Aardman Animations. She’s at the party with several from the Anomalisa team, including her husband, Anomalisa VFX supervisor Derek Smith and the film’s co-director and nominee Duke Johnson.

    10:58 a.m. Anomalisa’s Tran and co-director Johnson are chatting with Jeffrey Katzenberg.

    11:14 a.m. Peter Lord, co-founder of the UK’s Aardman (Shaun the Sheep Movie), and nominated Shaun co-director Mark Burton are wearing Shaun lapel pins and mingling with other guests. Lord remarks that seeing so many familiar faces, Oscar week feels different compared with nearly three decades ago, when Aardman first went to the Oscars. “We didn’t know anyone,” he recalled of that early experience. Shaun the Sheep actually debuted as a supporting character in Aardman’s Oscar-winning 1995 short, A Close Shave. “He’s grown up; he’s become a celebrity,” Lord says of his wooly star.

    11:35 a.m. Kung Fu Panda 3 director Jennifer Yuen Nelson admits that the Feb. 23 Shorts program at AMPAS was her first time moderating a panel. She had a lot of fun meeting this year’s nominees. (On a separate note, Kung Fu Panda 3 had just became the highest grossing animated film in China.)

    Other attendees included: Kung Fu Panda producer Melissa Cobb, who was recently named head of studio and chief creative officer for Oriental DreamWorks; Dean DeBlois, the Oscar-nominated writer/director of DWA’s How to Train Your Dragon trilogy; Elizabeth Daley, Dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts; Mike Fink, Oscar–winning VFX supervisor for The Golden Compass; and Shannon Gans, CEO of New Deal Studios. 

    - Reporting by Carolyn Giardina

  • American Cinema Editors’ annual Invisible Art, Visible Artist panel

    American Cinema Editors’ annual Invisible Art, Visible Artist panel — a discussion with the Oscar-nominated editors about their art — attracted a capacity crowd on Feb. 27 at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd., a mere steps from Sunday’s Academy Awards. Afterwards, the nominees greeted attendees and signed autographs. A luncheon followed as Musso & Frank Grill, which was attended by the nominated editors, ACE and Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) board members and other guests. MPEG hosted the luncheon.

    1:00 p.m. Nominated editors Hank Corwin (The Big Short), Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road), Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant) and Maryann Brandon, ACE & Mary Jo Markey, ACE (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) are arriving at Musso & Frank. The final Oscar nominee in film editing, Spotlight’s Tom McArdle, had to leave the event early, to attend the Spirit Awards, where he was also nominated.

    1:15 p.m. Mad Max editor Sixel, who is married to the film's director George Miller, says she had a great time on the Editors Panel. She says Miller is “calm” about tomorrow, and says the Oscar experience is particularly fun as the team is there together. (Mad Max has 10 Oscar nominations including the eight crafts categories.)

    1:30 p.m. ACE and MPEG president Alan Heim — an Oscar winning editor for All That Jazz — just finished moderating the panel, and is now enjoying a martini and chatting with guests including Stephen Mirrone, nominated editor for The Revenant and a prior Academy Award winner for Traffic.

    1:51 p.m. ACE treasurer Ed Abroms, a 1984 Oscar nominee for Blue Thunder, recalls when the Governors Ball was held at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

    2:00 p.m. Guests are checking their mobiles and begin spreading the word that McArdle had just won the Spirit Award for his editing on Spotlight.

    Additional attendees included: Steven Rivkin, Oscar-nominated editor for Avatar; and Chris Innis, Oscar-winning editor for The Hurt Locker.

    — Reporting by Carolyn Giardina