Stars party all around Hollywood before, during, and after the Oscars. Here, Variety hits the town to give you the inside scoop on all the star-studded soirées. Keep checking back throughout the weekend for the latest updates…
Elton John AIDS Foundation Viewing Party
West Hollywood Park, Feb. 24
Aside from serving as a benefit for his AIDS Foundation, what makes Elton John’s Oscar bash unique is that it happens to be a viewing party. But the iconic singer has little interest in the show itself. When asked how he would fix this year’s famously messy, hostless Academy Awards, John told Variety: “I have no idea. I don’t run the Oscars — thank God!”
Understandably, John already has enough on his plate between running a charity and touring the world. But surely one of his first guests to grace the event’s ivory carpet, Oscar winner Patricia Arquette — who famously used her 2015 acceptance speech to highlight gender equality — has some ideas. “I have enough problems of my own,” she told Variety. “My new speech is: ‘I can’t fix it. Bye bye!’”
But Arquette did share some thoughts on the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement. “Our industry has become more of a corporatocracy,” she said. “All of these small companies are owned by giant global conglomerates and they don’t like sexual assault in the workplace. We all know now: It’s 2019. It’s time for people to treat their coworkers with respect and have a dignified workplace.”
As for some of John’s longtime friends who fondly remember the golden age of Old Hollywood, they downplayed the Academy’s various controversies. “Honey, it’s the Oscars. It is going to go on with or without a host,” said Lorna Luft, whose mother, Judy Garland, starred in the original version of “A Star Is Born.” “It’s about letting the people know who was nominated. It’s not about if you win or lose; you will always be an Academy Awards nominee.”
“The Oscars are about excellence in moviemaking — I think we forget that,” agreed veteran actress Jane Seymour. “It’s about who made great movies; it’s not about a TV show.”
But this party also attracted a younger, eclectic crowd. “I came last year for the first time,” said Gus Kenworthy. “It’s really incredible to see how much money is raised to fight HIV and AIDS — millions and millions of dollars over the course of one night — and Elton and David [Furnish] have been doing this for 27 years. That’s as long as I’ve been alive,” joked the Olympian. (Indeed, last night raised a total of $6.3 million.)
Leave it to a first-time attendee like Nico Santos, who, just like his scene-stealing character from “Crazy Rich Asians,” was not at a loss for words and had an opinion about everything from the Oscars diversity problem to celebrity gridlock on the carpet during arrivals. “It was long,” he said of the wait to do press. “I was kind of complaining, but then I saw that even Heidi Klum had to wait, so I was like: ‘You know what? It’s fine.’”
While Santos was disappointed that his movie failed to score any nominations, he was pleased to see the wins for “Black Panther.” “It’s great to see that people of color are getting the recognition they deserve, but this is a battle that never ends, right?” he told Variety. “They say that it’s good for business, but that shouldn’t be why they make diverse productions — they should be doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”
And while nobody in this room cheered on the surprise best picture winner, “Green Book,” John’s subsequent performance (with Welsh actor Taron Egerton, who portrays him in the biopic “Rocketman,” as well as with the Killers frontman Brandon Flowers) was something that everyone could celebrate together. “I feel like Elton was Beyoncé before there was Beyoncé,” raved Santos. “Such a showman!”—James Patrick Herman
Mercedes-Benz USA Viewing Party
Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, Feb. 24
The Mercedes-Benz USA Oscars Viewing Party was firing on all cylinders as Oscar night festivities ensued. A dazzling gold AMG GT 63 coupe was a trophy in itself, greeting the partygoers entering the Four Seasons, Beverly Hills.
Before the awards were handed out, Jon Hamm offered some perspective on recognizing great performances, “It’s a validation of something that you’ve, ideally, worked very hard on for your career, and it feels good. It’s something that you, in the case of certain awards, can literally hang your hat on.”
For the Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award winner, it was the breakout performance of the year that stuck with him.
“I was pretty impressed by Yalitza Aparicio in ‘Roma.’ I don’t think I’d ever seen anything like that before,” Hamm said, “I was deeply affected by that.”
Tracee Ellis Ross was completely caught up in the excitement and buzz of the evening where dream moments happen, “This is a special night. All of us actors, that’s the mirror speech from when you’re 12.”
“Somebody’s always watching you and they’re always learning from you,” said Mykelti Williamson (“Forrest Gump”) of how one great performance inspires another.
En route to watching the big show, guests were able to make a stop in the “glam station” for last-minute style touch ups provided by Priv and Orlane.
Of course, style is always a topic of conversation on the evening. For Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), making a fashion statement requires a sense of history.
“We have decades of Oscars red carpets,” she said, “That’s what tonight’s all about, celebrating the progress that the industry has made.”
As for the style icons that the entire industry has eyes on, it comes down to three for McNamara, “Glenn Close has been killing it, Lupita Nyong’o always looks amazing on the red carpet, Emily Blunt, she’s done so many amazing things this year.”
As cocktail shakers shook and champagne flutes clinked, partygoers gathered in the nooks and crannies of the intimate viewing party. Jamie Foxx, Anthony Anderson, Kelly Rowland, and others posted up on VIP couches to watch the show. When the best supporting actress was announced, the crowd came to their feet for Regina King’s moment. Then when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage to perform “Shallow,” the room was swept away by the Oscar night rendition. All conversations stopped and viewers were transfixed during Spike Lee’s best adapted screenplay acceptance speech.—Mike Botticello
There was a lot to celebrate Sunday night for Fox, and the studio managed to get one of Oscar weekend’s most A-list guests at their afterparty — and she wasn’t even nominated.
Taylor Swift was a surprise guest at the Fox party, held at the Hollywood Athletic Club. The Grammy-winning superstar attended with Joe Alwyn, who was nominated for Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite.” Alwyn spent the night schmoozing with his castmate Nicholas Hoult and Swift, who was not posing for photos and kept a low profile with her beau.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” was the big winner of the night, nabbing a whopping four Oscars — the most wins of any film — including a best actor win for Rami Malek, who arrived at the Athletic Club around 10:45 p.m. Surrounded by flashing lights and well-wishers, Malek was in great spirits, dancing with his Oscar and chatting with “Queen’s” Brian May. The first-time Oscar winner’s family, including Malek’s twin brother, accompanied him to the party, along with his co-star and girlfriend Lucy Boynton, who proudly smooched Malek for the cameras.
It seemed like everywhere you looked, a guest was holding an Oscar. Olivia Colman nabbed the best actress statue for “The Favourite,” while the “Free Solo” team (the best documentary winner is a National Geographic film, owned by Fox) was dancing with their trophy and drinks in-hand all night long.
Fox executive Emma Watts beamed about the studio’s top Oscar wins while speaking to Variety at the party, but she declined to comment on her upcoming move to Disney in the coming weeks. Watts, however, did happily point out that the after-party venue was decorated in 20th Century Fox’s Oscar statues from over the years. (A display of encased Academy Awards from hits like “Titanic” and “Braveheart” adorned the entryway in the first room.)
By midnight, the party was still bustling as guests enjoyed the coffee bar, elaborate cheese board and dinner buffet, but the biggest moment of the night was when Swift left with Alwyn around 11:15 p.m. — because before she made her way out of the party, she was so low-key in a private corner of the soiree, barely anyone even noticed she was there.—Elizabeth Wagmeister
Byron Allen Viewing Party
The Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Feb. 24
For his third annual Oscar viewing party, Byron Allen and his Entertainment Studios delivered yet another bash with Jamie Foxx and John Legend helping along the way.
Foxx hosted the event, which included an auction to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as well as a live concert from Legend to end the night.
Prior to the dinner, Allen was seen taking photos with his family before welcoming guests to his party.
“Mike and Molly” star Billy Gardell was seen mingling with WWE star Nikki Bella and Jon Lovitz. William Baldwin and Tia Carrere were also seen catching up.
ESPN legend Dick Vitale found himself sneaking into dinner without being spotted and his wife was seen snapping pictures of the event.
Foxx got the after-party started by getting the room dancing to Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” while giving a shoutout to Spike Lee as he began emceeing. He continued the festivities by bringing a number of guests on the stage for a dance-off as the DJ played “Crazy for Your Love” and “Yeah.”
Foxx eventually performed his own songs, singing “Blame It On” to get the crowd fired up.
Legend closed out the night by serenading the crowd.—Justin Kroll
Sony Pictures Classics Annual Pre-Academy Awards Dinner Party
STK, Los Angeles, Feb. 23
Sony Pictures Classics hosted their annual night before dinner party on Saturday with guest of honor Glenn Close. The intimate soirée at STK was a glamorous family affair with nominees surrounded by love ones who came out to applaud their parents who are up for golden glory.
Fresh off her morning win at the Independent Spirit Awards, the star arrived for a brief walk on the red carpet with her precious pup Pippin.
The legend’s daughter and co-star in “The Wife,” Annie Starke, spoke to Variety about her exciting anticipation for Hollywood’s biggest night.
After her mother has thanked her in several speeches this awards season she stated on the potential Oscar triumph, “If she wins it will be such an amazing affirmation of the unbelievable amount of hard work that I have bore witness too. What could be better than that?”
Close’s title holding of being the most nominated living actor to never take home the Oscar is projected to be shattered. With stats shining bright her luck looks to change when the actress makes her way through the doors of the Dolby Theatre for the 91st annual Academy Awards.
The night of celebration included other Hollywood family royalty including multi Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who is up for foreign language film surprise category clincher “Never Look Away.” Daughter and star of “Bones” Emily Deschanel and wife Mary Jo Deschanel of “The Right Stuff” proudly stood with him on the red carpet before heading into the swanky affair.
Guests at the intimate bash mingled over Dobel black salt margaritas and champagne while applauding the two nominated films, as well as the cast and crew on site for Oscar contender “Capernaum.”
Other attendees included “The Wife” author Meg Wolitzer, Starke’s husband Marc Albu, “Never Look Away” actors Tom Schilling and Oliver Masucci, as well as director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Dinner featured Wild Atlantic Cod, Braised Artichoke Risotto and New York Steak.
Getting ready for what is one of the biggest nights of their lives on Sunday is an adrenaline rush that leaves no room for rest as stated by the “Never Look Away” helmer. “I look at this as one big extended celebration of the thing that I care about most, which is movies,” von Donnersmarck told Variety. It’s great way to meet people who feel the same way about the art of filmmaking. It is all positive and fun to me truly and not exhausting.”—Elizabeth Taylor
Giorgio Armani Party
Giorgio Armani, Beverly Hills, Feb. 22
No need to ask Glenn Close who she’s wearing to the Oscars on Sunday.
Close, the favorite to win best actress for her work in “The Wife,” was toasted by Giorgio Armani on Saturday night with a party in her honor at the fashion house’s Rodeo Drive flagship store.
She arrived at the party about 30 minutes in, having changed out of the metallic pink suit she was wearing earlier in the day when she picked up the best actress award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards into a chic black ensemble.
Close was the center of attention toward the back of the store with her agent, CAA’s Kevin Huvane, and publicist Catherine Olim keeping a close eye on her. She embraced Samuel L. Jackson before placing her head on his chest and smiling.
The guest list also included Ava DuVernay, newlyweds Allen Leech (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Jessica Blair Herman, Close’s daughter Annie Starke, Jeff Goldblum, Topher Grace, Nyle DiMarco, Nikki Reede, Ian Somerhalder, Camilla Belle, stylist Bruno Lima, New York City deejay Marjorie Gubelmann and Nancy Davis.
A crew of model-worthy waiters offered guests bite sized rice balls and crackers with salmon. Champagne flutes were continually refilled by the attentive wait staff.
Not making an appearance was Close’s dog Pippin, who was with her at the Spirit Awards. No word if he’ll be by her side at the Oscars.—Marc Malkin
Women in Film Pre-Oscar Celebration
Spring Place, Beverly Hills, Feb. 22
Hollywood celebrated its own sisterhood at this annual gathering of female Oscar nominees held at a gorgeous ultra-mod penthouse space across the street from the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills.
Women in Film leader Cathy Schulman co-hosted the evening with Sandy Powell, the beloved costume designer who Is a double nominee this year for “The Favourite” and “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Sporting a slick patterned suit and her signature fire-orange coif, Powell welcomed many female nominees, including Diane Warren, Regina King, Glenn Close, Yalitza Aparicio and“Free Solo” director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.
Many famous and well-heeled folks also turned up to support, including cinematographer Rachel Morrison, Eva Longoria, Connie Britton, Our Lady J, Kimiko Glenn, Maria Bello, Anjelica Huston, Kiki Layne, Nikki Reed, Felicity Huffman and Angela Bassett. There were also a few notable men on hand to hep celebrate, including “Stranger Things” star David Harbour, Ian Somerhalder and Justin Baldoni.
Guests nibbled on passed tuna tartar wrapped in cucumber, which paled in comparison to a massive desert bar erected in one corner. The sweets helped to take the edge off of Schulman’s remarks to the crowd, which included glowing praise for the women nominees but a tough confrontation of how far show business still needs to go in achieving gender parity. Women in Film is a key participant in ReFrame, a partnership with the Sundance Institute and many production companies which issues a stamp to film and TV content that achieves adequate gender balance.
Powell then took the mic and talked about her early days as a costumer, and the pushback she got for experimenting with androgynous aesthetics for female characters. Individual Oscar nominees were then invited up to introduce themselves and stand for a massive group photo. As the evening let out for more after parties, guests waited patiently in line for the evening’s coveted gift bag.—Matt Donnelly
Impact Awards Gala
Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Feb. 22
Photographers and videographers clamored near the doorways of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Friday night as Yalitza Aparicio arrived to the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s 22nd annual Impact Awards Gala.
The Oscar-nominated “Roma” star flashed a smile as she walked inside with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders.
Aparicio was just one of the honorees of the evening. Veronica Falcón was honored for outstanding performance in a TV series for “Queen of the South.” Clifton Collins Jr. received Outstanding Performance in Film & Television for his work in “Westworld” and “Pacific Rim,” among others. Pantelion Films nabbed the Excellence in Production of Latino-themed Content award and “Vida” took home Outstanding Television Series.
Like many others at the awards show, “Vida” showrunner Tanya Saracho talked about the doors that are opening for Latinos in the industry, saying that while there is still a long way to go, the increase in the number of roles and non-stereotypical roles for Latinos in the industry has been exciting.
“We’ve never seen some of the imagery [that we see in “Vida”], we’ve never seen brown players like this, or Latino millennials with agency, or the sex scenes,” Sriracha told Variety. “Sometimes as Latinos we don’t get to tell those stories. All of the writers are LatinX. They’re mostly female. All of my directors this season are Latina. All of my editors are female. It’s such a male field. To be building this with brown females this way is really important. So, I’m really proud of how we built it, not just what we built.”
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” stars Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz, who hosted the event, said that while they’ve seen changes in diversity in TV, film is “lagging behind.” Beatriz added, “We’re waiting for film to catch up to television for sure.” She continued, “So, there’s a lot of work to be done there, but I think we’ve started to see the beginnings of improvement behind the scenes and behind the camera in terms of writers’ rooms and producers and directors.”
Fumero continued, “That’s the most exciting thing to me, because part of the reason we keep seeing the same stories told over and over is because it’s the same people telling the stories. Once you get new people in those rooms, like Tanya Saracho, these newer voices that also have a different point of view—and often times a Latinx queer point of view—which is really exciting to me.
As the honorees and attendees like Jacob Vargas and Gloria Calderon-Kellett
took their seats at white floral topped tables, they munched on salads and roasted chicken, sipped wine and mingled before Fumero and Beatriz took the stage to start the show.—Brandi Fowler
Oscar Wilde Awards
Bad Robot, Santa Monica, Feb 21
Irish eyes were smiling in Santa Monica for the 14th annual Oscar Wilde Awards as JJ Abrams hosted an evening at his Bad Robot offices.
Before the festivities commenced, Abrams was able to reflect on reaching the finish line for his work on the “Star Wars” franchise. When asked if his inner fanboy was able to savor the moment, Abrams told Variety, “As long as I’ve been involved, it still is unreal to me that I get to be a part of it. So the answer is no.”
Among the superhero figurines and retro movie props, the Bad Robot offices were bustling with honorees and partygoers. “Westworld” co-stars James Marsden, Angela Sarafyan and John Cho (“Star Trek”) were among those on the rooftop patio for the award presentation.
Kicking off the ceremony, Abrams introduced Allen Leach (“Downton Abbey,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”) to present to Aiden Gillen (“Game of Thrones,” “The Wire”).
“This is as exciting to me as getting an Oscar,” Gillen said. “It fits more with my constitution as in I was promised it was going to be more fun and less pressure. And…that’s what I like.”
Melissa McCarthy presented fellow lead actress Oscar nominee Glenn Close but was quick to point out Close’s lack of Irish lineage.
“I’m pretty sure she is not one bit Irish,” McCarthy pondered about the three-time Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe award winner. “Dutch, Norwegian at best?”
Before Close took the stage, McCarthy added, “Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ and if you’re lucky enough to be Glenn Close that’s a pretty damn good spot to be in.”
In turn, Close began her acceptance speech in flawless Irish brogue. “People think I’m not Irish, because I don’t got the blood. I’m Irish in my heart. So take that Melissa. Shove it up where the sun don’t shine,” said Close to big laughs.
The final honoree, Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”), who hails from Boyle, Ireland, acknowledged the path he took from his home country to Hollywood and how it has only becoming an increasingly difficult road.
“I am painfully aware that my journey from home to here has been immeasurably smoothed by the color of my skin and the content of my purse,” said O’Dowd. “To the witness the bombardment of terms like border wall caravan and separation camps, breaks my f–king heart.”
Kathy Griffin credits her Irish heritage as the backbone of her sense of humor, “There’s something about being given s–t by someone you trust that’s the most delicious of all,” she cracked. “So basically it’s their fault.”
Hearts and glasses were full as a Guinness tap featured laser photo printing in the foam and a whiskey bar was available for toasting. Irish comfort food bites were served throughout the evening, while the Dublin band Vinci performed to close out the night.—Mike Botticello
Icon Mann Power 150 Dinner
Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, Feb. 21
The Icon Mann Power 150 Dinner and Honors celebrated Samuel L Jackson and Oscar nominees Ruth Carter and Spike Lee.
The event was like a full circle moment. Lee, who received his first Oscar nomination for best director and best picture for “BlacKkKlansman” after more than 30 years in the business, helped launch the careers of Jackson and Carter when he gave them their first jobs.
“I’m grateful that I’m being honored with Spike because ‘Jungle Fever’ propelled me into Hollywood and I’m extremely grateful for that,” Jackson told Variety before the dinner began. Carter, who is up for an Oscar for costume design for “Black Panther,” added, “I think it’s important to celebrate each other, because we have to teach generations behind us how that’s done.”
As for what sets Carter apart from the rest in terms of costume design, David Oyelowo, who worked with her on “Selma” and “The Butler,” and presented her with her award told Variety, “The great thing about her is not only does she make beautiful costumes but she helps the actor find their character.” He continued, “She helped me find Dr. King. She helped me find Lewis Gaines and I mean that in a true sense. Sometimes, you’re playing a character and you find that you’re fighting the costume. Never with Ruth. She is so centered in what an actor needs.”
Before guests, including Don Cheadle, Michael Ealy and Trevante Rhodes, headed to dinner, Lee reflected on his biggest lessons since being in the business. “It’s a tough business,” he said. “It’s not for the faint hearted or the weak minded. So, you have to have the strength within yourself to withstand all the stuff you have to go against. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and you can’t look at the long game and not the short game.”
As guests sipped pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon, spooned butternut squash, and munched on pan-seared black sea bass, chicken honey tagine, and warm valrhona chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert, the event began, with Jackson, Carter, and Lee all taking the stage to accept their awards.
Jackson recalled the moment that changed his career after he finished “Jungle Fever,” saying that he received an unexpected award at Cannes Film Festival not long afterwards that led him to his role in “White Sands.” “Know that it’s possible to come from segregated Tennessee during American apartheid and not be resentful, not be bitter, still find joy in life and a craft that you love that will take you places you never dreamed of as a poor little black boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee,” Jackson said.
Lee, meanwhile, talked about the importance of people of color being “in the room” to continue to increase diversity in the industry, as he brought Cheryl Boone Isaacs, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, back to the stage (she presented him with his award). “April Rayne was outside [the room] with her hashtag #OscarsSoWhite that was powerful, and then we had Cheryl working on the inside. In order for [diversity] not to be a trend, we have to get into the room. I’m talking about gatekeepers. If we’re not in the room, we don’t have a voice.”—Brandi Fowler
Hollywood for Science Gala
Private estate of Jeanne and Tony Pritzker, Beverly Hills, Feb. 21
The entertainment and fashion worlds collided at this year’s Hollywood for Science Gala, which honored actress Barbra Streisand and supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
Hosted by IoES global fundraising chairman Milutin Gatsby, with event co-hosts Lawrence Bender and Alexandria Jackson, supermodels Adriana Lima and Petra Nemcova mingled amongst some of Hollywood’s best and brightest for an evening of free-flowing drinks, expensive auction items and impassioned speeches about the environment.
Early in the evening, guest explored the massive Pitsker estate, before gathering in an enormous tent set up over the mansion’s large tennis court. There, Lauryn Hill welcomed attendees with a booming performance of “Lost Ones” and “Killing Me Softly,” which Bündchen jived to alongside her husband Tom Brady, fresh off his Super Bowl win.
Presenting the evening’s first award was longtime producer Norman Lear, who introduced Streisand with a reflection on their past together. Leer recounted their first dinner, in which they shared some borscht – “when’s the last time you saw that on a menu?” he joked – before listing Streisand’s numerous accomplishments, both in the entertainment industry and in the ecological sphere.
“Her spectacular voice is among the most recognized and appreciated on the planet,” he said. “That voice is a part of each of us.”
Soon after, a standing ovation welcomed Streisand onto the stage, where she delivered a searing indictment of Pres. Donald Trump.
“This president doesn’t seem to understand that nuclear proliferation is a threat to our environment. But he has no interest in the environment. He willfully ignores the clear science and pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord,” she said. “People are dying from huge hurricanes, fires, floods, and that’s the reality due to new extremes in weather, but our reality show president won’t acknowledge it, and doesn’t seem to care. The only national emergency he sees is his wall.”
“This administration wants to rewrite the rules and let coal companies emit higher levels of mercury. They are willing to destroy our air and water for short-term profits but it comes at what cost,” she continued. “Stop this insanity of denying proven science.”
Bündchen recalled her growing up in a small village in Brazil and a trip to the Amazon in 2004.
“Witnessing the destruction of its beauty and native communities broke my heart. I realized that what took Mother Nature years to create could be destroyed in minutes,” she said. “It is so important for children to learn early on to respect, nurture and honor nature. After all, nature is what sustains all of our lives.”
Also in attendance was Courteney Cox, Rosanna Arquette, Gerard Butler, Nina Dobrev, Goldie Hawn and Robin Thicke.—Nate Nickolai
Cadillac Oscars Celebration
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles, Feb. 21
“This Cadillac party is the kick off for me for Oscar weekend,” Allison Janney told reporters on the red carpet, turning heads in a red Galvan jumpsuit.
Inside, she caught up with Hilary Swank and her husband Philip Schneider. Posing for photos and fawning over pictures on Swank’s phone, Janney and Swank had to cup their hand to each other’s ear to be heard over the din of voices and a soundtrack of remixed pop songstresses like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey spun by DJ Michelle Pesce.
Waitstaff circulated with comfort food hors d’oeuvres, including grilled cheese bites, crispy spiced cauliflower and mini fried chicken sandwiches.
Under the glow of heat lamps, Liev Schreiber ordered a cocktail on the rocks with lime before joining Janney for smiles and warm conversation. Not far away, Tiffany Haddish’s laughter cut through the noise where she sat at her reserved seating area.
John Stamos and his wife Caitlin McHugh camped out in a corner near the stream of guests flowing outside from the lobby, where they could intercept friends headed to the outdoor bar. The two had a long, animated conversation with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, punctuated by Stamos graciously pausing to take selfies with a few fans.
Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed were all smiles as they too made the rounds, chatting with fans and friends alike.
The guest list also included Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Christoph Waltz, Jessica Paré, John Kastner, Joe Mazzello, Kyle MacLachlan, Emma Dumont, Heather Hemmens, Colton Haynes, Calum Worthy, Shaun Toub, Elijah Kelley, Charlie Carver and Paul Oakenfold.—Margeaux Sippell
Black Women in Hollywood Awards
Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Feb. 21
Industry vets like Angela Bassett and Regina King mingled with newbies like Marsai Martin before the 12th annual Essence luncheon began, embracing each other and flashing smiles, all excited to celebrate the nominees of the day: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Jenifer Lewis and Kiki Layne.
Kelly Rowland hosted the event and welcomed guests as she stepped out in a cream coat dress adorned with furry embellishments, saying that as a four-time Essence cover star, hosting the ceremony felt like a “pinch myself moment for sure.” She continued, “Being in this room feels like a homecoming. It feels like home.”
The songstress called Stenberg an “inspiration,” before introducing the outspoken activist and thesp to the stage. “The Hate You Give” star brought the audience to their feet as she thanked her mom and the women who paved the way for her.
“Sometimes it may feel like we carry a lot of weight, but it is because we have been given roots that run deep into the earth,” Stenberg said. “The love and protection of our ancestors envelops us and transcends time itself. No matter what we face, we are wrapped in that protection whether we find it in each other or in the circle of the sisters who hover above us with their hands linked and their hearts in prayer.”
Meanwhile Regina King teared up as she presented the award to her “If Beale Street Could Talk” costar, Layne, saying that after working together on the project she felt like they had a real mother-daughter relationship in real life. “In so many ways, I feel like Kiki could be my daughter,” King said. “She’s a chameleon…The honesty that she brings to her performance is what makes actors so good at their jobs. She understands the power of the gifts she’s been given.”
Layne was also teary eyed as she hit the stage to accept the award, saying that it had been her dream to be in the Essence Black Women in Hollywood issue. “I’m shocked that I’m standing on this stage accepting this award for the first role of my career,” she said. “It hit me that this is the perfect time to receive this honor, because it is the perfect moment for me. It’s showing me that I’m not by myself in all of this.”—Brandi Fowler
Variety x Armani Beauty Makeup Artistry Dinner
Sunset Tower, Los Angeles, Feb. 20
Variety and Giorgio Armani Beauty honored makeup artists Molly Greenwald, Patrick Ta, Nick Barose, Beau Nelson, and Tim Quinn during an intimate dinner and presentation. Olivia Munn began working with Ta after discovering him on Instagram. She credited him as one of the few makeup artists who knows how to work with her multi-ethnic features. “As soon as we saw each other, we were like family,” Munn said.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw was on hand to toast Barose, who approached the actress after seeing her picture on a poster for her star-making film, 2013’s “Belle.” “I was like, ‘I want to work with her,’ and I reached out to Fox Searchlight,” he told Variety.
Nelson gushed about working with Kristen Stewart. “Kristen likes to wear a look,” he said. “It’s really nice to have an adventurous client like that who wants to do things. She lets me do whatever I want and wears it so well that it looks like she came up with the idea herself.”
Meanwhile, Greenwald joked that she’s been helping client Constance Wu cover up bruises she’s suffered while taking pole-dancing classes to prepare to play a stripper opposite Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming “The Hustlers at Scores.”
Wu revealed to Variety, “I’m taking a lot of pole dancing classes to try to really get into it. … There’s actually [a stripper pole] in my living room. I had it installed for practice.”—Marc Malkin
Global Green Gala
Four Seasons, Beverly Hills, Feb. 20
“In a dark period that we’re going through, it’s organizations like Global Green that give a little bit of hope shining on the horizon,” Jane Goodall said while accepting this year’s legacy award via a pre-taped video speech. “Particularly the emphasis on aspiring youth and helping them to do what they can for their own future.”
For the past 25 years, the Global Green Gala has highlighted the efforts of environmental activists, sustainability practices, and progress toward a sustainable future.
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation CEO Terry Tamminen was on hand to honor Mark Ruffalo’s the Solutions Project. “Thanks to Mark and the Solutions Project, they’ve made the goal of a world powered by 100% clean, renewable energy a mainstream policy for governments and companies to follow,” Tamminen said. “So no one can say it’s impossible or impractical.”
Tamminen also recalled a meeting he and DiCaprio had with President Donald Trump in the days following the 2016 election in hopes to “persuade” him that strong environmental policy begets strong economic policy. “He did say that day that he would have an open mind,” Tamminen said. “All of us know his mind did not stay open for very long.”
Jane Seymour pointed out the need for strong messaging to help further promote environmental issues. “If everyone puts out the facts, people listen and realize it’s their planet,” she said. “I think the younger generation already knows this and I think they’re on it as much as they can.”
Two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan doubled down on the need to communicate and urged leaders to action. “It’s through ambassadors, people who are environmental activists that are going to lead the way,” Kwan said. “Communication is vital.”
A performance by Robin Thicke capped off the evening.—Mike Botticello