Nominees party at pre-Oscar fetes

Soirees range from bashes to tea parties

The same group of people kept bumping into each other over the weekend at the numerous pre-Oscar celebrations.

After the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica on Saturday, execs and stars decamped to the traditional BAFTA-LA Tea Party at Shutters on the Beach.

Among those sipping champagne, followed by a good ol’ cuppa, were “L.A. Confidential” star Kim Basinger and director Curtis Hanson, Minnie Driver from “Good Will Hunting,” Helena Bonham Carter from “Wings of the Dove” and the ubiquitous Mark Addy from “The Full Monty.”

The speakers, BAFTA-LA co-chair Su Lesser, new Brit consul-general Paul Diamond and veteran actor Roddy McDowall, stressed the close creative ties of the U.K. and U.S.

Saturday’s William Morris Agency party, hosted by Arnold Rifkin, was a genteel affair until the uninhibited New Line prexy of production Michael De Luca made his presence felt.

For star-power, Ed Limato’s Saturday-night blast took center stage. Mel Gibson, Robert DeNiro, Jay Leno and Arnold Schwarzenegger were among those attending, along with a major turnout of suits, including Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan, Bill Mechanic, Sherry Lansing and Barry Diller.

Limato’s sumptuous house, once the residence of Betty Grable, was so packed that, as one vet producer put it, “I’ve seen people waiting on the food line who haven’t waited in line for 20 years.”

On Sunday morning, those who could handle their hangovers made their way to an Alliance-sponsored brunch at the Ivy to swig some of the best Gimlets in L.A. in honor of “The Sweet Hereafter.” The guest list included “Sweet” director Atom Egoyan, Alliance chairman Robert Lantos, Alliance Pictures president Andras Hamori, New Line Cinema chairman Bob Shaye and Fine Line Features prexy Mark Ordesky.

Celebrating its two Oscar nominees “The Full Monty” (picture, director, screenplay, original musical or comedy score) and “Oscar and Lucinda” (costume design), Fox Searchlight Pictures hosted a dinner party Sunday night at Orso in West Hollywood.

Among those gathered at the rather low-key event were 20th Century Fox chairman Bill Mechanic, Searchlight prexy Lindsay Law, marketing topper Valerie Van Galder, “Flashdance” star Jennifer Beals, “Full Monty” helmer Peter Cattaneo, writer Simon Beaufoy and co-stars Paul Barber and Hugo Speer, comedian Drew Carey and other cast members from his show, actors Stanley Tucci and Jacqueline Bissett and ICM’s Robert Newman.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects in the entertainment journalism world made their pilgrimage to Bar Marmont.

Major stars were few and far between (k.d. lang was the only noteworthy celeb). But virtually every major newspaper and mag was in evidence.

What once had been a quiet, informal gathering of ink-stained wretches of the press, however, has grown into a fully sponsored formal party thrown by the L.A. Times, Interview magazine and the International Herald Tribune.

Overcrowding was a problem in the tiny Bar Marmont. But as one journo noted, “At least the drinks are free this year.”

For sheer entertainment value, the Sunday-evening Miramax party was a major crowd-pleaser. Putting on his producer’s hat, Harvey Weinstein induced several Miramax players to read scenes from Miramax releases — except the roles were switched.

Hence, Judi Dench and Robert Forster enacted a particularly gamey scene from “Jackie Brown,” with Forster taking the Pam Grier role. In another skit, Ben Affleck — in a cloak borrowed from Madonna — did a superb Harvey Weinstein impersonation in scene with his partner, Matt Damon — “What do you mean you want points in your next movie? We don’t do that at Miramax. Ask Quentin — he’s outside panhandling.”

The ever-reliable Robin Williams contributed a short, but hilarious, monologue.

Peter Bart, Chris Petrikin and Dan Cox contributed to this report.

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