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Gotham parties hearty for film’s biggest night

The stars are out to celebrate the Oscars

NEW YORK — Gotham gave its thumbs-up to the Oscar hoopla Sunday night with three very distinctive parties, each keyed to a different demo, but each with its own festive flair.

The Academy itself hosted an elegant, understated affair at the St. Regis hotel which brought out the good and great of old-time Hollywood with a notable sprinkling of theater people and surprise drop-ins.

“I was in town, and I asked my people, ‘Is there an Oscar thing on the East Coast?’ ” said Louis Gossett Jr., adding that he hit Gotham over the weekend to meet with the son of Jackie Robinson to talk to the sports legend’s progeny about repping — of all things — an imported coffee brand. “This is first-class, being in the presence of Arlene Dahl. She’s great. I feel at home.”

Broadway star Carol Kane arrived practically breathless after finishing a matinee of “Wicked,” at the request of fellow thesp Celia Weston. “I’d usually be in my pajamas ordering from Empire Szechuan — but not tonight,” she said.

Aside from Dahl and Kane, other guests included Sylvia Miles, Patricia Neal and Marge Campion as well as producers Richard Barclay, Arlene Donovan and Bernard Carragher.

The Academy’s N.Y. Events chair Arthur Manson said he was hopeful that the nominees this year, which sparked so much preliminary discussion, would translate into decent ratings for the telecast.

Rita Gamm, decked in a white pants suit with discreet sequined glitters, seconded his comments. “I’m enthusiastically hopeful,” she said about the Oscar event and the evening ahead. After champagne and canapes, some 50-odd Academy members and their guests adjourned to dine and watch the show in one of the hotel’s ornate ballrooms.

Over at Elaine’s Entertainment Weekly put on a blow-out shindig for the 12th year in a row.

Jeffrey Wright, Marcia Gay Harden and Jonathan Rhys Meyers mingled with producer Martin Bregman and Actors Studio activator James Lipton, while sipping one or another of the newfangled drinks inspired by the nominated movies — the blue cowboy, a 1950’s gimlet and a “Crash” cosmo.

“This is my local bar anyway,” quipped Dan Aykroyd, referring to the longtime eatery. As for the Oscars themselves, an opinion he did have: “I’m not so much rooting for anyone in particular, though I know who’s going to take it.” His actor picks: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Felicity Huffman.

As for the younger demo, “In the Life,” a gay and lesbian newsmag on PBS, hosted its sixth annual party and fundraising event at Pressure in Union Square, which this time seized the opportunity to celebrate the many sexually diverse characters nominated for Academy Awards.

Guests making the red carpet entrance were greeted by a Joan Rivers impersonator; guest host for the event was comedienne Judy Gold.

She offered her trademark barbs from beneath one of several 21-ft movie screens. Honorary hosts included Bill Brochtrup, Kate Clinton, Sharon Gless, Lesley Gore, Billy Porter, though only the latter three were actually present.

The refrain on everyone’s lips at this event was “Brokeback, Brokeback.”

As Gold put it, “Why is playing gay considered the biggest stretch for a straight actor? The movie is basically just a love story.”

Her query reflected the tenor of the event, which was upscale and polished, heavy on opinionated discourse and light on flamboyant fussiness.

(Ian Mohr, Addie Morfoot and Robert Riddell contributed to this report.)