Angst inflames bash-ful week

As war rages, some feel 'weird' about partaking in fetes

HOLLYWOOD — Ambivalence reigned during parties and award shows leading up to Sunday night’s Oscar kudocast against the backdrop of war.

Comments about feeling “weird” and “schizophrenic” were repeatedly expressed. One industryite said he thought “nobody wants to go to the Oscars, but enough people are doing it, they feel they have to. It’s about relationships.”

Still, there were many who thought the Oscars should go forward. “Narc” director Joe Carnahan, who is by no means pro-war, said: “Do people want to be bombarded with 16 hours a day of CNN? The Oscars are escapism. Let them revel in it.”

“As long as it’s appropriately subdued, go ahead,” was a studio exec’s opinion on the Oscars. One guest, while talking about some major stars who weren’t thrilled about attending, said, “This is as good as it’s ever going to get for having an excuse not to go.”

One producer said he didn’t want to be quoted on anything. “You can’t win on a weekend like this,” he said.

Maybe the logic for the Oscars and all the pre-parties going forward is best explained by the woman at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards.

She said when “you’re home watching CNN, you can’t imagine events like this still going on. But then when you’re at something like this, you can’t imagine there’s a war going on.”

The Indie Spirit Awards didn’t feel at all depressed — Elvis Costello set the tone when he opened the show to freshly courant ditty “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” to a standing ovation.Of course, the press weren’t happy about being excluded from most of the red carpet arrivals. One photographer spoke of magazines blocking out “dozens” of pages for Oscar coverage, but little will come from red carpet arrivals. He thought the photogs shooting inside the parties would make a bundle since they’d have the best and most exclusive images.

One publicist told a story about getting a major star to attend a fashion luncheon, but the thesp said: “If one person asks me about the war, I’m leaving.”

Needless to say, out went the press.

Even so, there were a bevy of events to which the press were invited.

Thursday’s party for Stephen Cojocaru‘s book “Red Carpet Diaries” at Emporio Armani was packed tighter than a box of designer T-shirts. The Global Vision for Peace organization reception at the Norma Talmadge estate had Drew Barrymore and Pedro Almodavar as big names. (The Spanish helmer is to anti-war speeches what Jack Valenti is to film piracy.)

New York hip met L.A. cool at Friday’s “Far From Heaven” soiree hosted by Christine Vachon‘s Killer Films, George Clooney‘s Section Eight, John Wells Prods. and Cinetic Media’s John Sloss. Helmer Todd Haynes and producer Vachon spent Spirit Awards eve hanging out at the Chateau Marmont with the film’s two Dennises — Quaid and Haysbert — composer Elmer Bernstein and exec producers Clooney, Wells and Sloss. Guests included Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lucy Liu, Olivier Martinez, Jeff Goldblum, Matt Dillon, Miramax co-topper Bob Weinstein, helmer Kevin Smith and U2’s Bono, who made an early appearance.

CAA lit guru Robert Bookman hosted a laid-back brunch on Saturday to honor nominated screenwriters Almodovar, Haynes, Jay Cocks and Peter Hedges. “These movies didn’t write themselves!” the invitation winked.

Also spotted in the Florentine splendor of the Hancock Park manse were Susan Orlean, Ricky Jay, CAA co-chair Rick Nicita and agency prexy Richard Lovett.

The Italian, Dutch and French consulates all had parties. The Society of Composers & Lyricists hosted an afternoon reception for the Academy’s music nominees at a member’s home on Beverly Drive.

And on Oscars eve, New Line topper Bob Shaye and wife Eva had a party at their art-filled, hilltop home that a few select press infiltrated, but the rules were no one could be quoted.

No one had to be. It was elegant, gracious and everyone had a mighty fine time.

(Dade Hayes and Sharon Swart contributed to this report.)

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