Saturday nights’ all right for Oscar partying

A rundown on the whens and wheres for Acad shindigs

It seems Hollywood prefers foreplay to the cigarette afterward: as had been expected, most of the studios’ Academy Award parties will be held before the Academy Awards.

On Oscar night itself, the only confirmed studio party will be a combined fiesta hosted by DreamWorks, Universal and USA Films (Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein sometimes has a “secret” party).

This is the second year the studios have opted for pre-Oscar affairs. The reasons echo those from 2001: the night before the Academy Awards “everyone is still a winner”; there’s already enough to do on Sunday; and why risk being the third stop on a night that offers the Governors Ball and Vanity Fair’s party?

One indication the Oscar-eve celebration tradition will continue long into the future is that the studios’ party planners are unanimous in supporting the idea and they’re the ones advising the bosses.

If there’s one big change in the party calendar this year, it’s that the British Academy of Film & Television Arts/Los Angeles will not be having its annual Oscar weekend tea party. The org felt it had enough going on with the rescheduled Britannia Awards coming on April 12. In addition, the L.A. arm of the British organization hosted a viewing breakfast for its British Academy Film Awards in London

Here are Oscar-related affairs during Academy Awards week:

THURSDAY, MARCH 21

Warner Bros. toppers Barry Meyer and Alan Horn will host an on-the-lot cocktail reception for “Training Day” nominees Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.

FRIDAY, MARCH 22

ICM’s Ed Limato will have guests at his home for his annual A-list party.

SATURDAY, MARCH 23

Though not connected with the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards are part of the weekend’s hoopla. Once again they’ll be held in a white tent set on a parking lot near the pier on Santa Monica Beach.

Incoming Vivendi Universal Entertainment topper Barry Diller and his wife, Diane Von Furstenberg, host their annual picnic-style lunch at their Coldwater Canyon estate.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch will host an afternoon party at his Beverly Hills home celebrating Fox’s eight “Moulin Rouge” nominations.

The Society of Composers & Lyricists will host an afternoon reception for the Academy’s music nominees. This will be held at a member’s home in Beverly Hills. AMPAS music governor Charles Bernstein says, “This is one of the few chances these artists get to meet. Creating music for film is a surprisingly isolated activity.”

Miramax will have its annual early evening Oscars-eve party (where stars read scenes from each other’s nominated films). The location is still to be decided. It’s usually at a hotel.

USA Films, DreamWorks and Universal will jointly host a dinner for their nominees at Spago in Beverly Hills.

New Line and its “Lord of the Rings” wizards, hobbits and elves will celebrate at topper Bob Shaye’s house.

Lions Gate will salute its “Monster’s Ball” nominations with a dinner at Mirabelle restaurant in West Hollywood.

Paramount will host a party for nominees and execs at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills.

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, OSCAR DAY

The Governors Ball will be in Hollywood & Highland’s Grand Ballroom. Half the awards audience will have tickets to the ball. Wolfgang Puck will be feeding the 1,650 guests.

Vanity Fair’s annual sit-down dinner and after-party, hosted by editor Graydon Carter, will again be held at Morton’s. But this year, the dinner itself will be in the tent attached to the restaurant. This leaves the restaurant space open for guests who arrive early from the ceremony. (VF publisher Lou Cona will also host a dinner down the street at Lucques.)

The annual Elton John/AIDS Foundation benefit viewing dinner/post-party will be at Moomba (about two blocks north of Morton’s). This year’s main sponsor will be Chopard, with additional support from InStyle magazine. Moomba’s parking lot will be floored and tented for a sit-down dinner for 300. The party will be done by Colin Cowie with a theme that mixes 1940s Hollywood glamour with a modernist edge. After dinner, John and Ryan Adams will perform inside Moomba.

DreamWorks, Universal and USA Films will jointly host a party at the Twist restaurant adjacent to H&H.

Amnesty Intl. and Children Uniting Nations will have a benefit viewing dinner and after-party at Ago in West Hollywood. Guest of honor is East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jose Ramos Horta. Tickets for the dinner are $1,000; the after-party is $500. Gov. Gray Davis and wife Sharon (an honorary president of CUN) are expected guests.

The Night of the 100 Stars viewing party, which benefits the Film Foundation, will again be held in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s ballroom.

Maxim magazine is hosting a party for roughly 400 guests on a 2½-acre private estate. (The hacienda-style house is 12,000 square-feet; plus there’s a tennis court.) The hook to this affair is it begins at midnight and goes long enough that they serve breakfast. The magazine is offering a pair of jeans or swim trunks to anyone who wants to ditch their Oscar-night formal wear.

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