Early Oscar buzz follows pic preem

HOLLYWOOD — While fellow cast members James McAvoy and Kerry Washington and helmer Kevin Macdonald mingled in the Academy’s downstairs lobby at Thursday’s post-preem party for “The Last King of Scotland,” Forest Whitaker, whose role as Idi Amin has already inspired kudos buzz, was nearly trapped upstairs, outside the theater doors, by well-wishers.

“It’s great, especially since the movie hasn’t even opened yet,” said Whitaker, who had jetted in earlier that day after a taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” “I hope this energy keeps up and gets more people into theaters.” An endorsement from Winfrey, he said, “is a major deal for a film like this.”

Among those who came out to toast the pic were Stevie Wonder, Cate Blanchett and Vanessa Williams, along with Fox Searchlight execs Peter Rice, Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula.

— Gabriel Snyder

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