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New bashes, rain worries feed Oscar frenzy

With Oscars coming on Sunday, this is the most stressful week of the year in Hollywood. No, not over who’s going to win or lose: The big question on everyone’s lips is “How many parties am I going to get invited to?”

The calendar is chockablock with pre-Academy Awards events. Nobody could possibly attend all of them; nobody really wants to. They just want to make sure they’re invited — to feel, you know, loved and important.

But if the potential partygoers are stressed out, that’s nothing compared to the planners. Aside from the usual stress that goes into working out details for a major Hollywood event, they have to contend with one more horrifying factor: wet ground.

The punishing rains of the last few weeks have left virtually every area in town filled with potholes and puddles, which do not easily mix with formal wear. Now, aside from flowers, candles and tiki torches on the walkway to the parties, the planners have to make sure the red carpet is dry.

Sure, the Oscars have survived rainy days before, but the last time was when the show was held at the Music Center downtown. The mixture of Hollywood Boulevard and rain hasn’t been tested.

Though rain’s not forecast for the weekend, the planners go pale at the mere mention of more showers.

Still, Hollywood is putting on a brave face. The show must go on, and so must the party.

Most of the large Oscar events this year are happening on the same day — and at the same place — they were held last year (a major exception is the Elton John Oscar bash), but a number of smaller events have cropped up at new venues.

“The people putting on the parties are going to make the safe decision,” said one longtime event organizer. “No one got screamed at last year, so do the same thing again.”

Among those planning pre-Oscar events, the most nervous have to be the folks in charge of the Independent Spirit Awards, which is always an outdoor event on Santa Monica Beach. Though the area is tented, it’s pretty deafening when the rain falls, and the show airs live on IFC.

The calendar of pre-Academy Awards fetes for the week is fairly brimming. Though Wednesday is a relatively quiet night (the main event is the Intl. Documentary Assn.’s tribute to nominees at the Academy), Thursday is absolutely packed.

The environmental group Global Green will have its “Rock the Earth” event, hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Roland Emmerich at Hollywood & Highland’s Day After club.

Architectural Digest and the Art Directors Guild are hosting a reception honoring nominated production designers and set decorators at Yamashiro.

Vanity Fair (the mag’s ad side, not the editorial) and Guess will put on “Amped” at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Event is hosted by Luke Wilson with a perf by Black Eyed Peas.

MGM/UA will host a party at Campanile for its Spirit and Oscar nominees.

The Italian Film Commission will host a dinner for its country’s nominees at Spago.

Ebony magazine will have its “Harlem in Hollywood” party at Crustacean.

The same night the Gagosian Gallery is having an opening that honors Richard Prince. The gallery traditionally has a big opening and dinner during Oscar week.

And there’s a reception for the Independent Spirit Award nominees at the Sheraton Delfina hotel in Santa Monica.

Limato’s annual event

Friday, the big event is traditionally Ed Limato’s annual party at his home. The same night, Warners will host a party for its nominees at the Bel-Air Hotel.

The Oscar-eve parties should also conform to last year’s pattern.

The main Saturday-night event will be the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Night Before bash at the Beverly Hills Hotel, co-hosted by Variety. Last year, more than $3 million was raised. This will be the event that draws the big names.

Universal will have a party for its nominees at Spago.

The Independent Spirit Awards will be held midday Saturday in a massive white tent set on the beach in Santa Monica. This event gets bigger each year; the pre-awards reception is almost a separate party in itself.

Immediately after the ceremony, the Independent Film Channel will be hosting a party at Shutters.

Also in the afternoon, Barry Diller and his wife, Diane Von Furstenberg, host their annual picnic-style lunch at their Coldwater Canyon estate.

That evening at the Pacific Design Center, Miramax will have its annual “Max Awards” party that also celebrates the mini-major’s 25th anniversary.

The main events

As in 2004, the troika of major events on Oscar night is the Governors Ball at Hollywood & Highland; Vanity Fair at Mortons; and the Elton John AIDS fund-raiser, which this year will be held at the Pacific Design Center for the first time.

One first-time affair that could be big is the party Premiere magazine and Ted Field will host at the producer’s home late on Oscar night. Though it’s difficult to compete with the Big Three (the studios have pretty much given up), this could be a contender.

Another tyro event is the after-party Ron Burkle, Jeffrey Best, Alan Finkelstein and Nick Haque are hosting at Koi.

Esquire magazine and Jennifer Love Hewitt will host a viewing dinner/dance party/APLA benefit at the Abbey in West Hollywood.

There will be a viewing/after-party for “Super Size Me” helmer Morgan Spurlock at Cinespace. (Organizers are touting the event’s “super-sized” gift bag and hangovers.)

The U.N.’s Children Uniting Nations fund-raiser will be at the Factory in West Hollywood.

The Lee Strasberg Theater and the city of West Hollywood will host an event at Ago that benefits Amnesty Intl. and the Southern California ACLU Foundation. Dinner/viewing party honors Martin Sheen and Terry George.

The Night of the 100 Stars viewing party will be at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s ballroom. (Event is no longer connected with the Film Foundation.)

Miramax says it hasn’t decided yet whether it will have a latenight Academy Awards after-party.

In New York, AMPAS’ official viewing party will be at Gabriel’s at 11th and 60th. And also in Gotham, Entertainment Weekly will throw its annual viewing party at Elaine’s.

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