As chairman of the Governors Ball, Jeffrey Kurland offered simplicity and elegance to create, as he said, “intimacy for 1,500 people” in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. It worked. But with unassigned seating, it also evoked “West Side Story’s” dance at the gym, as rival gangs staked out their turf: A Universal-Focus group in one area, the Weinstein Co. troupe nearby, the Warner Bros. team across the room.
The “Argo” winners accepted congrats from well-wishers including Kevin Tsujihara, Jeff Bewkes, Sue Kroll, Jeff Robinov and the WB ensemble. Praising Daniel Day-Lewis’ acceptance speech, Hugh Jackman mingled with Ron Meyer, Donna Langley and Adam Fogelson.
Other key topics of conversation: Acclaim for Seth MacFarlane and the show, surprise about some winners, optimism that the glut of strong films is a good omen — and relief that the season is over.
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Food servers roamed with trays of Wolfgang Puck’s spicy bass, lobster, lamb and vegetarian offerings. Among partygoers were winners including Anne Hathaway, Mark Andrews (“Brave”), Rick Carter, Jacqueline Durran, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell. (There is something surreal about watching an Oscar winner eat a chicken pot pie with the statuette casually placed on the table.)
Barbra Streisand and Adele sat at tables a few feet apart, chatting with their respective entourages. The room was filled with heavyweights including Stacey Snider, Francis Coppola, Tom Hooper, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Charlize Theron, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Jacki Weaver.
Michael Feinstein entertained.
Big winner Ang Lee was the toast of the Fox party at Lure in Hollywood.
A few miles farther west, Elton John hosted a rocking post Oscar bash at West Hollywood Park. The highlight was a performance by Emeli Sande that had guests on their feet dancing.
During the viewing party guests bid on such items as a five-day holiday in Steven Tyler’s Hawaiian retreat that went for $250,000, a Chopard timepiece and a Soho House private bash with “Great Gatsby” screening for 40. John threw in four private perfs that went for $250,000 each. He later told the crowd the evening raised an unprecedented $6 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“It’s almost become a status event on Oscar night … and gives us an opportunity to raise more money and make more people aware” of AIDS, John said.
But beyond the serious nature of the fundraising, guests enjoyed themselves on the dance floor to DJ Johnny Dynell.
And even farther west, a number of former Oscar winners and nominees turned out to watch a new generation of contenders collect their trophies, at the Night of 100 Stars viewing party at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Impresario Norby Walters gave shout-outs to Don Murray (“Bus Stop”), Michael Lerner (“Barton Fink”), Shirley Jones (“Elmer Gantry”), Louis Gossett Jr. (“An Officer and a Gentleman”) and others.
The feisty crowd had no shortage of opinions about the evolution of business.
“Pictures haven’t gotten better,” said Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for “Ed Wood.” “Now it’s all about car chases, explosions and climbing up the sides of buildings.”
And Seymour Cassel, nommed for “Faces,” said, “Our business is corrupt and there are so many cheats. Everyone is looking for money and needs the studios to get things done. It’s all a hustle.”