Oscar soirees can still be found around town


The writers strike might be over, but its effects still linger in many ways, not the least of which is the damage that has been done to annual Oscar-weekend festivities. Gone -- at least for this year -- are agent Ed Limato's usual Friday-night bash at his Beverly Hills manse; Dani Janssen's ultra-exclusive dinner; Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller's celebration at their Coldwater Canyon home; agent Patrick Whitesell and manager Rick Yorn's after-hours fete; People magazine's afterparty; Entertainment Weekly's get-together; and the granddaddy of them all, the extravagant Vanity Fair bash.

Even studio functions are on the wane. No post-parties are planned for the Weinstein Co., Universal/Focus, Sony, Fox/Fox Searchlight or Picturehouse (though Miramax, Paramount Vantage, Warner Bros. and Endeavor will each host small private gatherings for their filmmakers and talent). But make no mistake: Hollywood still loves a good time, and there are some who have insisted that the fun must go on. Below, a look at the festivities going forward to celebrate Oscar winners and nominees.

The Governors Ball
Fifteen hundred guests will walk the red carpet into Oscar's official afterparty, held in the grand ballroom of Hollywood & Highland. "In celebration of the 80th, we're creating a theme derived from two of its most recognizable icons: the red carpet and the gold Oscar statue," says event planner Cheryl Cecchetto, whose Sequoia Prods. is producing the event for the 19th consecutive year. "We'll use these two colors fearlessly. It's very dynamic and elegant, yet contemporary."

The room will be divided into nine sections, each with its own distinct personality. Guests will enjoy Wolfgang Puck's fare at assigned table seating (scrapped last year in favor of a more low-key approach). Pink Martini -- the 12-member pop orchestra from Portland, Ore. -- will headline, and KCRW music host Jason Bentley will complement their sound during dinner with a mixture of "timeless film scores with popular music." Dessert wines will be served for the first time, and the house cocktail will be red tequila with a gold sugar rim.

InStyle Magazine's Oscar-Viewing Party and Children Uniting Nations' Oscar-Viewing Party
InStyle will host its 10th annual Oscar viewing party Sunday for approximately 250 guests at STK on La Cienega Boulevard, while Billboard magazine is teaming with Children Uniting Nations for its ninth annual Oscar-viewing and post-award party at the Beverly Hilton. This black-tie music-business event will benefit foster and at-risk children and will be hosted by Doug E. Fresh with DJ Spinderella. Live performances by Cisco Adler, DMX, Cirque du Soleil and Jil Aigrot, the voice of Edith Piaf in Picturehouse's "La Vie en Rose," are expected.

Elton John AIDS Foundation
The Elton John AIDS Foundation gala is Hollywood's most successful fundraising event on Oscar night. The bash at the Pacific Design Center has generated more than $15 million; last year it raised a record-breaking $4.3 million. The 16th annual gala begins at 4 p.m. Sunday with a cocktail reception, followed by a formal dinner and viewing of the awards show. After the telecast, the live auction gets everyone on their feet. On the auction block is an "over-the-top package" based on the 1956 Oscar-winning film "Around the World in 80 Days," featuring international hotel stays, private jet transfers, access to private tours, exclusive experiences, customized and tailored luxury goods. The evening will conclude with a performance by Elton John and assorted invited guests, including Mary J. Blige. With event co-chairs including David and Victoria Beckham, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor and Donatella Versace, the gala is guaranteed a huge star turnout.

Motion Picture & Television Fund
The Saturday-night fundraiser for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a tradition started by DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg, has become one of the weekend's hottest tickets. Regular attendees have included George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks, Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey, among others. Since its inception in 2003, the Night Before benefit at the Beverly Hills Hotel has brought in more than $23 million -- thanks largely to the generosity of its presenting sponsors, including AP, Lexus, L'Oreal Paris and Target. Mr. Chow will make a repeat performance as the evening's culinary star, providing samplings of his signature dishes.

Night of 100 Stars Gala
"Strike or not, the show must go on," has been the mantra of Norby Walters, veteran music agent, reprising his role as producer and dinner chairman of the 18th annual Night of 100 Stars Gala. The formal sit-down dinner awards-viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel always includes past Oscar winners and nominees -- and increasingly, young Hollywood types. Everyone will leave with a hefty gift bag, while the stars will walk out with products and services valued at $15,000.

Private party hosted by CAA's Bryan Lourd
You've got to know someone to be invited to CAA king Bryan Lourd's Friday night bash at his Bel-Air estate. Expect clients Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts and others from the agency's huge client list to be in attendance. The Hollywood talent agency so secretive and powerful that its office building is nicknamed the Death Star will neither confirm nor deny that there will even be (art: italic) a party, but if tradition holds, the bash is a go -- and it will be stellar.

No doubt many celebrities will cap off Oscar festivities with a late-night trip to someone's home or an exclusive club or restaurant where they can revel without the media's glare. (Last year, Teddy's at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel found Penelope Cruz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Josh Hartnett and Sean Penn holing up behind the velvet curtains in the club's VIP booths.) The rest of the Cinderellas will depart before midnight, head home and hit the pillow. And that's a good thing -- it's back to work the next day.