Early birds flood fetes

Morton's, Moomba and BevHills Hotel were places to be

With most of the studios having their Academy Award parties on Saturday, it was a case of, in Shakespeare’s words, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” who gathered early to dine and watch the Oscars telecast.

At Morton’s, where the black-tie crowd was dining on steak, crabcakes and mushroom risotto washed down with Francis Ford Coppola’s private-label wines, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said he was caught in an inverse formula: Fewer parties brings more pressure for an invite.

“It’s much more frantic,” Carter said. “I wish there were other parties. Maybe we should just merge this with the Governors’ Ball. It would make life a lot easier.”

The plan at the VF dinner was for guests to watch the show in Morton’s usual dining area, but when the telecast ended a rear fabric wall would be removed, revealing the entrance to a 7,500-square-foot, wood-floored tent where the Cuban band Alberto Alvarez y su Son would perform and Fatboy Slim would DJ. Roughly 1,200 guests were expected.

Among the 150 arriving for dinner was Barry Sonnenfeld, who said the reason he came to the VF dinner was, “I’ve been to the Academy Awards and it’s boring. Painfully boring.” Jay Leno said the problem with going to the Oscars is, “You go back to your seat and someone’s sitting in it. And then you can’t figure out where you were sitting because the people in the seats around you keep changing.”

Al Ruddy said there are two reasons for going to Morton’s: “One, it’s hard to get in, so it’s an honor. And two, it’s easier.”

Manager Barry Krost looked around the room and said, “I feel like an extra in a Jackie Collins miniseries” because of all the stars and industry heavyweights in the room.

Among those nearby were Jeffrey Katzenberg (who was planning to leave for the Governors’ Ball after dinner), David Geffen, Sumner Redstone, Tom Freston, Barry Diller, Denise Rich, Monica Lewinsky, Robert Evans, Tom Ford, Sherry Lansing, Jonathan and Susan Dolgen, Mike Medavoy, Kirk Douglas, David Hockney and Bryan Lourd.

Meanwhile, just up Robertson at Moomba, the Elton John AIDS Foundation had a blockbuster attraction: Sir Elton himself would be performing at the after-party.

Event designer Colin Cowie said he wanted the party (co-hosted by watchmaker Chopard and sponsored by InStyle magazine) to “be all about being sexy, young, fabulous and edgy.”

Cowie’s design palette for the dinner tent set in Moomba’s parking lot included chocolate brown, velvet black, and turquoise with white organic flowers including lilies. Though pleased with the final result, Cowie’s only complaint was that the fire marshals doused the idea of candles with the place settings.”

However great the party looked, John said, “At the end of the day, it’s all about raising money for AIDS. And as long as we keep doing that, then I’m very happy.”

Further west at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Norby Walters hosted the 10th annual Night of 100 Stars gala, which benefits the Film Foundation and was hoping to raise $140,000 for the restoration and preservation of films made before 1952.

This is an older crowd (many of the attending stars probably saw career peaks around 1952) and Walters said the dinner “brings Old Hollywood and Young Hollywood together in a fashion they normally wouldn’t meet. Old Hollywood thinks the way they did it was right. And Young Hollywood, sort of, doesn’t care less.”

Among the 500 guests were Old Hollywood’s Sid Caesar, who said he came because “you sit, you eat, you have a good time.” Young Hollywood’s Bridget Fonda said, “I’m here as a fan to celebrate and as a film buff to save the great old films. And my dad’s inside.”

Also on hand were Sally Kirkland, Lesley Ann Warren, Darva Conger, Montel Williams, Lynn Redgrave, Lee Iacocca, Thora Birch, David Hasselhof, Vivica A. Fox and Gary Busey.

(Sandra Matthews contributed to this report.)

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