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LOS ANGELES — The ballroom of The Beverly Hills Hotel oozed female empowerment Wednesday night as stars gathered for Premiere’s 13th annual Women in Hollywood gala honoring Cate Blanchett, Annette Bening, Sofia Coppola, Sally Field and Evan Rachel Wood. Still, the evening’s endearments were more personal than pre-scripted. Gwyneth Paltrow, who called herself a “breast-feeding mess,” described Bening as “so un-Hollywood in the best way. She always wears black to every Hollywood event, which is extraordinary.”

And Coppola said of her onetime mentor, Anjelica Huston: “I always thought of Anjelica when things would get tough. She always told me I would grow into my nose.”

Huston repeated the sentiment, saying: “Sofia and I have much in common. We have both posed for perfume ads; we both have three generations of Oscar winners in our families, and our teenage acting debuts were met with hurtful criticism at a time when we had not yet grown into our noses.”

After dinner, several of the younger guests hotfooted it over to the Chateau Marmont, where Teen Vogue hosted an event that doubled as Nicole Richie‘s 25th birthday party.

The next night, Quincy Jones threw a birthday party for Janet Jackson‘s beau, Jermaine Dupri, at his Bel-Air estate. As the 34-year-old blew out the candles on his Hennessy Paradis-flavored cake (the spirit company was a party sponsor), Jones made a wish of his own. “He’s gonna have about 10 babies now,” Jones said, before checking out Jackson in vintage Hervé Léger, Cartier jewels and a pair of showstopping Christian Louboutin heels. “And I want to be the godfather!”

Gabrielle Union played it cool, sipping martinis with Jackson at the bar, but recalled that her first meeting with the pop icon at a Miami club a few years back did not go as smoothly. “I just couldn’t pull it together,” Union said. “I felt like such a damn idiot and she was so nice. She said, ‘I’m proud of you.’ I just bawled.”

This story first appeared in the September 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Meanwhile, guests including Lil Jon and Jones’ daughters, Kidada and Rashida, feasted on Asian-inspired short ribs and miso sake black cod while they grooved to R&B, rap and hip-hop under a white tent. Serena Williams flaunted her Hervé Léger-clad curves in front of ex-boyfriend Brett Ratner, and Penélope Cruz swanned in around midnight with her posse, including director Pedro Almodóvar. “I really wanted to come to wish him happy birthday,” said Cruz.

And what did the guest of honor wish for his birthday? “I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ fan,” the Grammy winner revealed, “so anytime that someone can get me more ‘Star Wars’ collectible stuff, that’s what I ask for.”

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