The Lord had it easy, getting to rest on the seventh day. Around here, there will be no rest Oscar Sunday following a weeklong nonstop whirlwind of cocktail soirees, luncheons, pool parties, fashion shows and after-parties. Even the Night Before party has its own, well, night-before party.
All week long, the main hurdle for many is getting on the list. For those already invited, there are weightier concerns that call for social prowess. What do you say to a nominee if you hated his performance? How do you juggle three rival events in one night?
Here are a few pointers for gracefully navigating your way through the year’s busiest social calendar:
Just say “no.” Don’t RSVP if you don’t mean it. Some event planners have a secret blacklist of phantom guests who in the past have responded but never shown up. “If only I could out all the high-profile flakes in this town,” moans one studio publicist. “It’s impossible to figure out how much food and alcohol to order.”
Be judicious. Think of parties as pastries — overindulge and you’ll get sick.
“It’s crazy to try and go to everything that’s happening,” says Oscar-winning producer Dan Jinks. “It’s also completely exhausting, so I only go to the key parties like Ed Limato’s, which is a great Hollywood tradition.”
Jinks also loves Bryan Lourd’s annual shindig. A smart rule of thumb for non-nominees is to hit three events per day, including a luncheon. “You don’t want to be on WireImage for four different parties on a Thursday night,” says a studio exec. “You look like a lame frat boy.”
Thumbs up, thumbs down? Who cares? Don’t play Pauline Kael when it comes to discussing contenders. “It’s not the time for critical analysis of the films,” says Bill Block, head of QED Intl.
Indeed, one publicist remembers watching an agent badmouth a nominee’s performance while said contender stood three feet behind him and listened closely. “You never know who’s in earshot or even who has alliances with whom,” she says. “The only word out of my mouth is ‘great!’ ”
Laps vs. lingering. Everyone has a party modus operandi, but Oscar week calls for some respectful decorum. “I’d rather have five meaningful conversations, than spend 30 seconds with 100 people,” Jinks says.
Nominees, of course, may feel the need to work the room. Engaging any Oscar hopeful for too long can be sticky. “Nominees are like political candidates before an election,” says Block. “They don’t want to miss out on their constituencies.”
We can’t handle the truth. Especially since we heard two different versions of it last night at the Endeavor bash. “Clint Eastwood once told me, ‘You (embellish) your stories as you go along,’ ” says Mandalay Entertainment’s Cathy Schulman, who nabbed an Oscar as a producer of “Crash” last year. “It’s how you get through when everyone keeps asking, ‘How do you feel?'”
Never unnerve a nominee. Schulman recalls hearing, “What will you do if you lose?” and “What do you think your chances of winning are?” Obviously, both questions will quickly deaden a contender’s natural high. “People just say, ‘It’s your best work ever,’ no matter what,” says Block.
BlackBerries are not plus-ones. Frantically texting during an Oscar party is frowned upon. Even networking should be kept to a minimum. “Hollywood is not without its share of heat-seekers,” says Participant Pictures prez Ricky Strauss. “But it should be kept at a minimum because these parties are for celebrating the nominees.”
Don’t solicit seats. Begging Sid Ganis for a pair of tickets to the Oscars spells awkward. Same goes for publicly hitting up studio heads, publicists, caterers or any other party potentates for party invites.
The prez of the Academy is too gracious to dish about how many requests he has fielded in the week leading up to the big night: “Everyone wants an extra ticket for the right reasons,” Ganis says. “But every once in a while, I do get a bozo request.”