My Oscar party week started out Wednesday night with The Cove at Andaz on Sunset, where Russell Simmons held court and Ben Stiller admitted that he had seen Oscar doc front-runner The Cove three times. On Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, Stiller said it was a huge relief to follow the script, word for word. (One of the Greenberg locations was Baumbach’s wife, producer-star Jennifer Jason Leigh’s mother’s house.) Stiller and Rhys Ifans only improvised one scene, Stiller said.
“You could have fooled me,” I replied.
Later by the pool I talked to The Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier, who is barred from the Oscar ceremony. He says it’s been a huge career boost.
Thursday night indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez and I attended the third annual Women in Film party at Linda and Peter Guber’s mansion tucked into a hill near the Bel Air Hotel. Peter was out of town; host Linda had to deal with a bathroom flood, mopping up water with towels. Crash producer Cathy Schulman welcomed the 2010 women Oscar nominees and fellow best-picture winners Donna Gigliotti (Shakespeare in Love), Lili Fini Zanuck (Driving Miss Daisy) and Wendy Finerman (Forrest Gump). I hung out with Up in the Air producer Daniel Dubiecki, agent Rena Ronson, and Los Angeles Film Festival honcho Rebecca Yeldham and husband Curtis Hanson, who’s diving into visual effects on two possible projects, Gemini Man for Jerry Bruckheimer, and a surfing movie. Yeldham is already negotiating for summer studio movies for the LA Film Fest, rapidly approaching in June.
The Young Victoria costume designer Sandy Powell stayed out of the din in the courtyard with Gigliotti and New York Oscar-party doyenne Peggy Siegal. Among the stars on hand, from WIF activist Sharon Lawrence to Mena Suvari and Nia Vardalos, Avatar star Michelle Rodriguez was having a fine time–it looks like she’ll be returning to Lost. Always poised Precious nominee Gabourey Sidibe looked fab in black-and-white stripes. (Here’s a round-up of Sidibe’s fab awards-circuit evening outfits.)
Viola Davis, who was at the party last year, has been working non-stop on movies and television since her nomination for Doubt. “It’s a huge distraction,” she said, “to have the business intrude on your life.” It took her months to return to her proper focused work zone. Next up: August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway, opposite Denzel Washington. Juliard-trained Davis is first and foremost a stage actress.
UCLA dean of film and TV Terri Schwartz ran off to the Hancock Park home of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who welcomed Oscar nominees and other guests, including Mel Gibson and girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
Next, Eugene and I repaired with screenwriter Mike Jones and producer Dan Lupovitz to the bar at the Sunset Towers, which was hopping; Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and LACMA co-chairman Terry Semel warmly greeted big-haired Barbara Davis. Across the street, another Andaz party was under way, for Precious, where they served yummy sliced prosciutto. I greeted my Santa Barbara writers’ panelist Geoffrey Fletcher, who admitted that he can’t wait to get off the awards circuit and get to work on his Attica project with director Doug Liman. I split early to rest up for the weekend’s labors. Tonight: Live-blogging the Indie Spirits Awards and pre-and-after-parties. Saturday: foreign film panel and Weinstein Co. party. Sunday: live-blogging the Oscars, red carpet, interview room and Governor’s Ball.
[Photo of Gabourey Sidibe by Eugene Hernandez]