Stars get ready for the big night

Adding new meaning to the term “Oscar pool,” some 800 revelers assembled atop the Beverly Hills Hotel’s famed swimming pool and raised more than $4 million at the annual Night Before party.

For the third time, the hotel covered over its pool area for the pre-Academy Awards fete, which benefits the Motion Picture & TV Fund.

The ground rules — no photographers or press allowed in the party, no speeches — remained the same as in previous years, which contributes to a relaxed, festive atmosphere when everybody feels like a winner.

The host committee included a stellar list of players: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jennifer Aniston with Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas & Melanie Griffith, Courteney Cox & David Arquette, Mike Myers & Robin Ruzan, Tom Cruise and the MPTF’s CEO Ken Scherer. The guest roster included Alec Baldwin, Christine Baranski, Thora Birch, Steven Bochco, Pierce Brosnan, Zach Braff, James Caan, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Chiklis, Natalie Cole, Sean Combs, Frances Conroy, Laura Dern, Brendan Fraser, Paul Giamatti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel Griffiths, Teri Hatcher, Jill Hennessy, Dustin Hoffman, Helen Hunt, Jeremy Irons, Scarlett Johansson, Greg Kinnear, Spike Lee, Heather Locklear & Richie Sambora, Tobey Maguire, Camryn Manheim, Debra Messing, Diane Keaton, Spike Lee, Sugar Ray Leonard, Helen Mirren, Isaac Mizrahi, Mandy Moore, Eddie Murphy, Wolfgang Puck, Meg Ryan, Nicolette Sheridan, Alicia Silverstone, David Spade, Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Chris Tucker, Usher, Vince Vaughn, Jon Voight and Wyclef Jean.

Plus execs: Jeff Berg, Jeff Blake, Mark Burnett, Jim Gianopulos, Dan Glickman, Peter Guber, Alan Horn, Alan Ladd, Ed Limato, Chris McGurk, Frank Mancuso, Ron Meyer, Rick Nicita & Paula Wagner, Terry Press, Joe Roth, Bob Shaye, Tom Sherak, Howard Stringer, Steve Tisch, Harvey Weinstein and Bob Wright.

Perennial “Night Before” sponsors Variety, Hewlett-Packard and Ford again lent support, joined by first-time sponsors Target, JP Morgan Chase and AOL.

Rubbing elbows were Oscar acting contenders Annette Bening (with hubby Warren Beatty), Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio with Gisele Bundchen, Jamie Foxx, Virginia Madsen with son Jack, Sophie Okonedo and Imelda Staunton. Other nominees included Graham King, Taylor Hackford, Mike Leigh and Michael London.

All the sponsors contributed to the event. Varietyeditor-in-chief Peter Bart and publisher Charlie Koones attended — brought celeb chef Jamie Oliver and his crew, who had a demonstration kitchen inside the party. Ford provided a Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe for raffle; HP provided a version of the Apple iPod, AOL gave noise-blocking headphones and Target supplied Isaac Mizrahi pajamas, to help those with sleepless nights. Also raffled off was JP Morgan’s donation of a courtside box for the Women’s Final of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.

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