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Gothamites in gala gear

Nattily dressed industryites make kissy-face, schmooze

NEW YORK — New Yorkers gathered at various spots Sunday night to watch Oscar on TV together.

On the Upper East Side, Elaine’s welcomed the seventh annual Entertainment Weekly Oscar-viewing party, where a range of smartly dressed industryites converged to watch the competition and hazard opinions on who would — and who should — prevail this year.

While some argued for underdogs such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and actors Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden, others seemed resigned to the likelihood of triumph for the higher-rent projects.

But the real party talk was speeches. Was Oscars producer Gil Cates right to tighten the screws this year on prolix ramblers?

“I think people are getting bored with the speeches,” said Heather Matarazzo. Taking the opposite view, Kimberly Peirce said, “Part of the show is about gushing and being over-emotional. Why else would we watch it?”

Alan Cumming came down somewhere in the middle, telling Daily Variety, “There should be certain exceptions. If more interesting people win, they should be allowed to talk more.”

As for identifying Oscar nom trends, Cumming said, “There seems to be the theme this year that nominations are for people who get fat or thin in films. Tom Hanks has won the award before for losing weight — in ‘Philadelphia’ — so I think he might be passed over this year.”

Demurring from any such analysis was Paul Shaffer, who said, “I don’t really see many movies. I haven’t seen a movie since ‘The Yearling.’ But don’t tell anyone.”

Characteristically, a less sardonic, more earnest crowd was to be found at the Academy’s official Le Cirque 2000 Oscar Night Celebration, where guests crammed into the upstairs library room for cocktails and mused on their favorite films of the year.

“I’m into action,” said Lorenzo Lamas, unshaven and sporting a ponytail. “I loved ‘Gladiator,’ I liked Joaquin Phoenix. Also, Frances McDormand in ‘Almost Famous’ — she’s a phenomenal actress.”

Aspiring auteur Domenica Scorsese, daughter of Martin, had raves for many of the year’s films.

” ‘You Can Count on Me’ is beautiful,” she said. “Also ‘Crouching Tiger’ — I walked out of that movie feeling like I had wings.”

Not everyone, however, would reveal a favorite. Arlene Dahl, vaunting electric orange hair, would say only, “I enjoyed all of them.” And Jane Russell, decked out in silver and purple, admitted to having seen only “Chocolat.”

The guests mingling around Le Cirque’s ice sculpture of “Oscar” included Richard Barclay, Anne Coates, Celeste Holm, Tina Louise, Sheila MacRae, Sylvia Miles and Robert Richter.

Among others at Elaine’s fete were Gerry Byrne, Phyllis George, Michele Lee, Lisa Ling, Michael Madsen, Reba McEntire, Gay Talese, Aida Turturro and the party’s hosts, EW president John Squires and managing editor James Seymour.

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