“I’m tired. Tired of being admired/tired of love uninspired. Let’s face it, I’m kaput!”
That was the divine Madeline Kahn in “Blazing Saddles,” comically channeling Marlene Dietrich.
Today, Oscar, that much coveted golden guy is probably feeling kaput himself.
A whole year of anticipation and it’s over in a mere four hours — six if you count the red-carpet coverage. So much money spent on PR campaigns, borrowed gowns and jewelry, musical numbers, Botox, spray tans, film montages, etc. And of course, it’s never much to write home about. Inevitable bad reviews and longing for the “good old days.” Which were never very good, at least in terms of Oscar telecasts.
But here we are, already forgetting who won — and learning that the biggest hubbub in the Kodak Theater press room was when the camera cut to Angelina Jolie while Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black were onstage. “I never heard such a gasp, in all my years!” said one grizzled media veteran. And that’s celebrity culture 2009 — accept it, folks. But we’ll all be back next year, and don’t pretend otherwise.
So before we settle uneasily into the real world of financial stimulus and plunging stock markets, here are a few sights and sounds from the Oscar weekend.
It began at honcho Peter Guber’s opulent Hollywood home where he held a cocktail party honoring Women In Film.
Among the throng was Christine Lahti, who admitted she and hubby Tommy Schlamme were trying to pinch a few pennies these days: “We are traveling less and have made some other adjustments, but I hesitate to list them, as they would seem trivial in comparison to people losing jobs and homes.”
Nia Vardalos, the famous, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” actress, was there, slim and citing giving up cheese as her salvation. “I decided it was the devil!” said Nia. She has also turned her back on many years of vegetarianism. She merrily said, “Now I’m a steak and martini girl.” And Vardalos, too, is cutting back. Her entire Oscar-week wardrobe cost her only $300. She said, “I’m going to have to provide a college education for my daughter. In light of the recession, I thought this was a good way to start to contribute.”
Asked his picks for the big night, the host, Mr. Guber, once a powerhouse Columbia titan, said: “Slam dunk for ‘Slumdog Millionaire!’ It is the quintessential non-Hollywood film from the way it was financed, to the studio passing and then buying, then selling it to it’s competitor… It was an unknown subject matter not close to the heart of the American audience. And yet the ‘Slumdog’ arrow found it’s way to the heart of our culture.”
Mr. Guber was not alone in predicting a “Slumdog” sweep,” but this was as good a summing up as I’ve heard.
The Big Night: Really, the awards are not the thing. Certainly sitting in the Kodak is no fun, and the press room can be grueling as well. Oscar night is all about the after-parties.
Madonna arrived early at Vanity Fair’s scaled-down-but still-starry fete at the Sunset Tower Hotel. (She had her own party, co-hosting with Demi Moore to attend to.) La Ciccone looked dazzlingly fresh from the bosoms up. However, unless she decides to gain fifteen pounds and stop already with the exercise, those arms need to be covered. As she approached the red-carpet, M, the veteran of a million such nights, said, “Oh, so many checkpoints!” Then she went inside and mingled with old friend Sacha Baron Cohen, and newer pals like Gwen Stefani and Daniel Craig.
At Elton John’s soiree in the Pacific Design Center, Rosanna Arquette said, “Everybody’s a winner! To see the nominees get accolades from their peers so highly respected in the industry, had to have made them feel so special. There was no ego. I think the new administration made for a whole new shift in energy and it was obvious tonight.” Hmmm … no ego on Oscar night? Rosanna is a darling girl. I think her ego has always been in check. She went on to say she was a little sad Mickey Rourke hadn’t won, but “He did get the Spirit Award, and that’s a little hipper anyway.”
Others partying at Elton’s bash included Kate Beckinsale, Eva Longoria and Victoria Beckham who were like gossipy, giggling teenage girls at a sleep-over. Also spotted — a young woman who looked a lot like Molly Sims had employed three — count ‘em — three men to handle the train of her dress. (“She’s nobody” griped one paparazzi. “Some stylist is showing off that dress and she’s just the model.”)
Viola Davis, the fabulous best supporting actress nominee from “Doubt,” had a big laugh with Anne Hathaway, when Hathaway said, “Oh, I wish I could be a nominee indefinitely!” (Davis had just seen Hathaway’s nominated performance in “Rachel Getting Married” and raved over it.)
Viola said, “I can’t get kicked out of this party! The most fun of all is that I’ve been able to come to these parties as myself. I’ve been forced to leave my low self-esteem behind. I’ve embraced who I am!”
Davis says her “star of stars” is Meryl Streep, with whom she shared “Doubt’s” most electrifying moments. “But if I could meet Helen Mirren, that would be good, too!”
Over at Norby Walter’s “Night of 100 Stars,” which attracts a more vintage but still vital crowd, the subject of Nadya Suleman, the Octo-Mom came up. The famous feminist firebrand attorney Gloria Allred announced, on her way to her table at the Beverly Hills Hotel viewing party:
“Nadya has until Thursday to accept my offer to provide the medical and emotional needs for her children. Otherwise she will be forced to let foster parents raise these children at the cost of the taxpayers.”
Others chowing down in the hotel’s Crystal Room: Shirley Jones, Chevy Chase, Peter Bogdanovich, Laura Dern, Connie Stevens, Laine Kazan, Martin Landau, Harry Hamlin and the indestructible Dominick Dunne. The writer dined at the Norby’s party and went off to the “intimate” VF affair.
Finally … I won’t name names. Maybe they were just carried away by the excitement of the parties and all the star-gazing, but two very well-know actors, with well-known drinking problems, were seen swigging back martinis and wine. My on-the-spot source said, “Neither one of these guys was drunk under the tables, but still … very sad.”
Well, when they get to the under-the-table point, that’s when TV’s reality show ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’ comes ‘a calling.