Modest party weekend due to economy

At a moment when the nation is engulfed in an economic crisis, and showbiz is enduring layoffs and cutbacks, the theme for this year’s private Oscar bashes is shaping up to be: Throw a party, have fun, but don’t do too much.

“You want to celebrate nominations but at the same time be respectful of the fact that a lot of people have lost jobs, and it’s a bad economic climate,” said one studio exec involved with event planning. “You want to have an appropriate level of celebration without being ostentatious.”

Balancing modesty with glitz is no easy task, but award season veterans are definitely seeing some changes this year. Saturday’s seventh annual Night Before party at the Beverly Hills Hotel benefitting the Motion Picture & Television Fund is cutting out the gift bags, and it is not holding the Friday night pre-event as in years past.

“It was the sponsors who suggested we find ways to have the same kind of evening but without being lavish,” MPTF Foundation topper Ken Scherer said. “They wanted the cost savings to hit the bottom of the charity.”

And while the overall number of events is down a notch, there’s still no shortage of parties and receptions and places for nominees to grab a glass of champagne. Whether you’re a sound editor or a star, somewhere there’s a plate of hors d’oeuvres out there with your name on it.

Heading into the 72-hour home stretch of Oscar weekend, Friday’s events are dominated by top tenpercenters. CAA’s Bryan Lourd hosts a major affair at his home, and Endeavor has a reception for the agency’s nominees at Ari Emanuel’s house. But this year, William Morris tenpercenter Ed Limato is not throwing his traditional fete.

Women in Film is hosting a reception at Peter and Tara Guber’s home for the femme nominees. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences hosts a reception for the foreign-language film nominees in the Academy lobby.

Saturday has become the day that rivals the Oscars in terms of the sheer volume of events. The studios like throwing parties on the night when everyone is still a winner.

Saturday’s big gathering is the Independent Spirit Awards, together with its IFC-hosted after-party at Shutters. Earlier, Universal/Focus is hosting a brunch for its Oscar and Spirit nominees at an exec’s home. DreamWorks hosts its annual brunch for all animation nominees. Barry Diller and wife Diane Von Furstenberg have the luncheon they host each year honoring Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

Charles Bernstein chairs the Society of Composers & Lyricists’ annual afternoon reception for the music nominees at a BevHills home.

In the evening, Miramax/Disney celebrate their noms with a party on the London Hotel’s rooftop. Focus Features will hold court at BLT Steak. Sony Pictures Classics is having a dinner at Cecconi’s (former site of Mortons) for its nominees. Brit producer Charles Finch is having his party at Madeo’s. Par and Warners are not having parties this year, while the Weinstein Co. is having what it calls a “bipartisan” Oscar party at Andaz West Hollywood, where “all the nominees are celebrated.” And capping the day is the Night Before party at the BevHills Hotel.

On Oscar night itself, there are now four major events: the Governors Ball, Vanity Fair, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Madonna/Demi Moore/Guy Oseary party.

At the Kodak, the theme for this year’s ball done by Sequoia Prods. is East Meets West, with a mix of Asian elements and contemporary Western overtones. Some 1,500 guests are skedded to arrive at the ball after the kudocast.

After more than a decade at Mortons (and then no party last year), Vanity Fair has moved to the Sunset Tower for its viewing and after-party. The mag says the “invitation list has been cut down considerably,” but a permit filed with the city of West Hollywood said there would be between 800 guests over the course of the evening.

John will be having a viewing dinner at the Pacific Design Center with 650 guests followed by a Raphael Saadiq perf. There will be no after-party. Last year, before expenses, the event raised $5.1 million.

Last year was the first time Madonna, her manager Oseary and Moore had an Oscar after-party at the manager’s Hollywood Hills home. It’s back this year and, if nothing else, it’s exclusive.

“No fluff, no entourages, no security, no hangers-on,” said one person involved with the event.

InStyle will be hosting its 10th annual viewing party at My House, the newly opened club on Hollywood Boulevard that’s decorated as a 1950s home. The mag is expecting 250 guests. After a year off, Dani Janssen is once again having her party in her Century City penthouse.

Leeza Gibbons, Olivia Newton-John and David Foster are hosting a viewing and after-party at Mr. Chow that benefits a number of charities. Jennifer Love Hewitt hosts APLA’s benefit viewing party at the Abbey.

Fox Searchlight will be celebrating at One Sunset. And there are published reports that Prince will be having a late-late-night party at his Beverly Park estate, as he has in years past.

And for one last stop on the way out of town, the U.K. Film Council is hosting a Monday afternoon reception for the British nominees at Cecconi’s.

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