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Oscar Night Stargazing
by Thom Fowler

The best place for stargazing was across the street from the Vanity Fair party in West Hollywood. The parties for Elton John's AIDS Foundation, Genre, Out in Television and Film and Vanity Fair were all along the same block and provided a steady stream of limos. While The EJ party was host to the glamorous and wealthy, Vanity Fair was THE stop of the night for hosts and winners who wanted to parade in front of the army of the worlds media assembled outside.

Gwyneth Paltrow arrived with Cameron Diaz. Paltrow had changed into something more comfortable and hurried past the crowd while Diaz stopped and gave a few enthusiastic waves at the peanut gallery. Mary Kate and Ashley, Joan Collins, Beck, Sandra Bernhard (who looked disgustedly at the crowd when someone shouted, "where's Madonna?") Ryan Phillipe and a smarmy but gorgeous Reese Witherspoon, The "guy who played Kramer" arrived to shouts of "KRAMER!". So I won't even bother printing his real name since to the person on the street, it's irrelevant.
Samuel L. Jackson and wife followed by Suzanne Somers and Jennifer Connelly in that gorgeous, demure gown that swept the staircase so ethereally as she descened to accept her award. Owen Wilson broke the mighty security ranks to come across the street and sign a couple autographs while a helpless arrivals coordinator let the star have his way with the world. Publicists are good at facilitating good media but they can hinder social alchemy if you let them control the entire process.

Puff Daddy (aka Sean Coombs, aka P. Diddy) was trailed by Jennifer Lopez (and that hair, oh my god!), Caroline Rhea from Sabrina The Teen Witch warmed up the concrete for Joaquin Phoenix. A passel of young british chicks in Britney-wear informed me that Gerri Halliwell was indeed inside. Once the official press technicians realized I was on a beat, I got lots of tidbits of information. If I had worn a tuxedo I could have just walked through the press entrance. Or so I was informed while shivering across the street. Next time, call a few publicists, they'll tell you where the parties are. It's amazing how well oiled the publicity machine is. And a little frightening.

I'm a project waiting to happen. I need a wardrobe budget, better equipment, and a desk with a trendy, popular magazine with a high subscription rate.

And an agent, a book deal, and someone to turn my novel into a great movie.

Darryl Hannah emerged to shouts of "FARRAH!", Marissa Tomei, Sissy Spacek, David Lynch and Toby McGuire (about who a young male fan said to a friend, "you're so gay"), arrived in quick succession, pausing to smile at the fans. Paul McCartney raised a power to the people fist to the people and his long haired rock and roll companions (think, Rolling Stones, 1974 - gypsy wear, Moroccan kif and Bel Ami cologne) raised a peace sign. Andy Richter, ex-sidekick of Conan O'Brian took a lengthy call at the security checkpoint. Elijah Wood walked from Elton John to Vanity Fair along the crowded sidewalk and seemed, like many of the arrivals, sheepish and a bit embarassed, followed by Kirsten Dunst. Baz Luhrmann hammed it up while taking his Oscar through the metal detector. He beeped, but didn't get patted down. How's that for tight security?

Security was high everywhere, with metal detectors, Secret Service looking guys and the LA county sherriffs keeping a watchful eye and emptying the pockets of the party goers. Low Risk - celebs you know, High Risk - celebs you don't. John Voight stopped a half block away from the party, the press and the security to sign photos for the professional autograph hounds. That was nice of him, knowing I'm sure, that they can sell those at conventions and ebay. Not bad for just hanging out on Oscar night. Two hours and Maggie Smith later, I had my fill and went back to the car. I got lucky and found a parking spot a mere block away. I also got lucky because I had no idea the Vanity Fair party was going to be down the street from the OTF party. I also didn't know Vanity Fair was that important. I've been so far underground, I feel like an alien when dealing with the capital M media. All in good time.

I don't drink but I woke up Monday morning, I felt hung over. I want to thank Robert Redford for informing the world that Hollywood is now ready for creative diversity. This bodes well for a writer like me, arriving in Hollywood at the exactly the right time when the economics of the industry are changing, the character of the industry is changing and the audience's desires are changing and important voices are speaking on behalf of the artists. I'd also like to thank Bruce Villanch for using my jokes. And Whoopi Goldberg for not being afraid to talk openly about race.


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originally posted: 03/26/02 21:14:10
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