Tea-bibbers crowd BAFTA/LA pre-Oscar bash

British and non-U.K. industryites gathered Saturday for the sixth annual BAFTA/LA pre-Oscars tea, at what British consul general Paul Diamond called “an occasion for tea-bibbers and the nominees.”

Among those sampling tea, crumpets, sandwiches and champagne at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica were nominees including director John Madden, actors Emily Watson, Ian McKellen, Kathy Bates, Brenda Blethyn, Lynn Redgrave and Geoffrey Rush, editor Anne V. Coates, production designer Jeannine Oppewall, costume designer Judianna Makovsky and d.p. John Toll.

Also attending “to meet old friends and acquire new pals in an English tea setting” — in the words of Don Haber, exec with the L.A. branch of the British Academy of Film & TV Arts — were Sir John Mills, who recently celebrated his 91st birthday, and his daughter and son-in-law, Juliet Mills and Maxwell Caulfield.

Diamond said the goal was to create an oxymoronic “atmosphere of relaxed anticipation.” The mood, in fact, was so relaxed that the hundreds of guests kept up a loud stream of chatter during the speeches. However, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences prexy Robert Rehme finally hushed the crowd with the admonition, “Quiet out there, or I’ll take your Oscar tickets away!”

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