H’wood venue opens a new chapter on parties

Glamour back in fashion after the show

HOLLYWOOD — As decisions are being finalized for the annual Governors Ball in the Grand Ballroom of the new Hollywood & Highland location after the 74th annual Academy Awards, planners are relishing the opportunities that the location provides.

“A ballroom is normally a box hidden somewhere with no windows,” says Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Prods., the company that has produced the Academy’s big party for the past 13 years. “This ballroom is on the fifth floor and has outdoor balconies that overlook the whole city.”

Other benefits of the location, which Cecchetto has been involved in helping to create for the past three years, include a catwalk, a sort of floor above the roof with rigging points for chandeliers, speakers and lights, and two kitchens — “So,” she notes, “you can hit them from both sides.”

The food emerging from those kitchens, however, will be the same. Ballroom resident chef Wolfgang Puck will provide the evening’s sustenance — which, Cecchetto notes, has been true for the past seven years and which ensures the highest quality.

“Most ballrooms cook to hold, so that their food sits in a transit box and is just put on plates which are hot,” she adds. “Wolfgang cooks to order — it comes right out of the stove onto the plate onto the table, so restaurant quality is maintained for a guest count of 1,700.”

Last year’s 30-piece Greg Field Orchestra will be playing, as well as a second band that Cecchetto hasn’t finalized but she thinks will probably have a Latin feel to it.

Though there has been much discussion of security at this year’s Oscars, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences director of communications John Pavlik is confident that the party will be largely unaffected.

“Security precautions won’t be noticeable once you get past the original check-in area. And because it’s on the fifth floor, it’s going to be more secure (than at the Shrine Auditorium) — no one will be sneaking in from the outside.”

Of course, the Governors Ball isn’t the only party in town on Hollywood’s golden night. Vanity Fair will be throwing its ninth annual Morton’s shindig, which includes a sit-down dinner for a few hundred followed by a postceremony gathering for roughly 1,000. The event, which allows many guests in on a staggered-entrance basis, is widely considered the night’s hottest ticket.

Plans for InStyle to join forces with Elton John for its annual party to raise money for AIDS are still under way, as are fetes for Fox (with its “Moulin Rouge” and “Sexy Beast” nominations), New Line (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “I Am Sam”) and potentially Lions Gate (“Monster’s Ball”) and MGM/UA (“No Man’s Land” and “Ghost World”). USA Films (“Gosford Park”) is also discussing joining Universal and DreamWorks (“A Beautiful Mind”) in a joint celebration.

Though nothing has been confirmed, it’s considered likely that Miramax (“In the Bedroom,” “Amelie” and “Iris”) will be having its party, as they normally do, the night before the awards.

On the Right Coast, Entertainment Weekly’s eighth annual viewing party at Elaine’s will include a seated dinner for a little under 200 industry people, magazine advertisers, media folk, executives and celebs.

Other shindigs happening the week of the Oscars include the second annual party thrown by the Diamond Information Center with WWD for 300 at a private home on March 20. (Last year’s event, at the Temple Bar, was deejayed by Rosanna Arquette, and attended by the likes of Richard Tyler and Elizabeth Hurley). Oscar eve will be dominated by festivities for the Independent Film Project/West- and Entertainment Weekly-sponsored Independent Spirit Awards.

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