Hollywood’s high spirits

Weinstein opens up the festivities, Jackson does Maori dance

Call it repentance, maturity, or taking baby steps toward statesmanship, but Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein was in an expansive mood on the Mondrian’s patio Saturday night.

The indie mogul said he’d opened up his annual Oscars-eve party “to everyone at all the studios. It’s about wiping out the animus.”

After Weinstein the Elder had slipped into the packed crowd that included Stacey Snider, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jim Gianopulos, Robert Altman, Ron Meyer and Cameron Diaz, his brother Bob was asked about this “animus” thing and replied: “I dunno. It’s too big a word for me. Ask Harvey.”

In a sign that Miramax scoffs at the superstitious idea of a venue being jinxed, their affair was held in the same hotel where its Talk magazine subsid had a Golden Globes party — just hours after editor Tina Brown learned her mag was going out of business.

The non-jinxed, animus-free Mondrian was a shift from the Regent Beverly Wilshire, where the annual pre-party had been held in the past. The hotel’s patio was covered in a clear tent, a white platform set over the pool and a small stage erected at one end.

Miramax has a tradition of having its stars read scenes from each other’s films (say, Judi Dench in “Sling Blade”). While there’s a certain sweetness in seeing major talent deign to do impromptu theater, it might be merciful for all involved to have a script polish and a rehearsal.

Certainly, with a bit more practice, Weinstein and Katzenberg doing skits together dressed in gladiator armor could afford the duo the showbiz break they so richly deserve.

Not that there’s much time for rehearsing on Oscar weekend. At the same time the Miramax party was ending, the party hosted by New Line’s Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye at Shaye’s breathtaking hilltop home was just heating up.

There were a number of ways the party chez Shaye was the most impressive of the weekend: He had Ted Turner and Gerald Levine under the same roof; his art collection is better than the Hammer Museum’s (almost anyone’s art collection is better than the Hammer’s, but Shaye’s is way better); and he had food from Wolfgang Puck.

And not just Puck the corporate entity. Guests walking by the kitchen window could watch the chef himself stirring the polenta. One guest cracked that “the leftovers are going be to served at the Governors Ball.”

One guest making all the Oscar party rounds was Dominick Dunne, who was with Wendy Stark. The novelist-journalist said “he’d been going all day,” beginning with breakfast at Nate ‘n’ Al’s, then stops at Barry Diller’s al fresco party and Rupert Murdoch’s luncheon.

Despite all the glamour, Dunne seemed most impressed by the afternoon visit he’d made to the old Marion Davies estate now restored by Leonard Ross. “It’s fantastic, like Hearst himself laid it out,” said Dunne.

“Lord of the Rings” helmer Peter Jackson said he was preparing for the Oscars by doing the haka, a traditional Maori war dance, with fellow New Zealanders Sunday morning at the Four Seasons. “Gets the old Kiwi blood stirred up,” he said.

The original idea was to do the fearsome dance on the red carpet, “but the security nixed the idea,” said Jackson with a note of disappointment in his voice.

Another guest who’d been everywhere was John Waters, who hosted the Independent Spirit Awards on Santa Monica beach in the afternoon. “I do all the Oscar parties, have lots of fun and then run back to Baltimore,” said the helmer. “That’s how I stay sane.” The Spirit audience could have used a dose of sanity after his 100 mph monologue that opened the show and picked on many guests including a pale Steve Buscemi — Waters insisted Buscemi needed to get a tan.

When Buscemi won the award for supporting actor in “Ghost World,” he said he would consider taking some of Waters’ advice and “reconsider the offer to star in ‘Goat World.’ ”

Security at the Spirit Awards was the tightest ever, with guests entering through magnetometers and having their bags searched while Santa Monica police patrolled the aisles before the show. “We thought it prudent to be more security conscious this year,” said Dawn Hudson, executive director for the IFP/West.

Event becomes more mainstream every year with more people trying to attend the kudocast. “I’ve had everyone in Hollywood yelling at me to get tickets. We aren’t getting bigger, we’re staying this size,” Hudson declared. “This event is for us.”

(Kirstin Swanson contributed to this report.)

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