The Oscar Race is On

The sweet scent of an Oscar nomination mingled with that of the lavish hors d’oeuvres at Morton’s Tuesday night when Paramount pulled out all the stops to toast Oliver Stone.

On Monday night, Stone won the Hollywood Film Fest’s Best Director Award for “World Trade Center.” A very relaxed Stone arrived at the restaurant with his wife Chong and warmly mingled, receiving congrats from the roomful of guests.

Par’s Brad Grey proudly introduced Stone and noted that the film was the first of his new regime. He recalled when Oliver first arrived in his office, said he wanted to do the film — it was greenlighted pronto and has now passed the $150 million mark. Stone thanked his filmmaking team and Scott Strauss, N.Y. Emergency Special Unit who rescued Will Jimeno.

A classy touch to the cocktail’er was the piano performance by Craig Armstrong, “World Trade Center” composer who played the piano and cello themes from the film.

Nicolas Cage, who just returned from filming “Bangkok Dangerous,” huddled with Stone, costar Michael Pena and James Woods who starred for Stone in “El Salvador.”

I talked with Stone on the lingering memories of the World Trade Center and the recent horrible news that additional remains from 9/11 had been unearthed. As for Stone’s future film, he said of “Jawbreaker,” also at Paramount, “I’m still “working on it.”

Politics and the world’s condition were also topics of talk at this party. Among the parleying participants, Gore Vidal, Bill Maher and Stanley Sheinbaum. Vidal, onetime Congressional candidate, said he’d been touring the state campaigning and heads out to Texas to continue on the national scene. His new book is “Point to Point Navigation” — he knows the political waters — as well as those in the Atlantic where he served aboard an Army transport in WWII. Bill Maher said he’s not writing another book-until after the next elections. “I’ll let it (the book) lie farrow for a while,” he smiled.

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