Byline: Merle Ginsberg and Louise Farr

LOS ANGELES — ‘Twas the day of the Oscars, and all over town, creatures were stirring, wriggling into their gowns.
It’s business — but not as usual — on Oscar Day in Hollywood. A handful of hopefuls are dealing with the stress of knowing that their lives, careers and, most importantly, salaries, can change drastically — or not at all — in one minute tonight. For the presenters, it means a billion people will be sizing up their appearances. And for just one day, almost everyone in town is employed by these privileged few.
Call it “trickle-down adrenaline.” Anyone attached to a winner or a well-dressed presenter gets a piece of the glory. Or at least, the glitter.
Over at Jessica’s Nail Clinic in the tony Sunset Plaza section of the Strip, Jessica brings in four or five extra manicurists to supplement her staff of 28.
“Most of our clients go to the Academy Awards,” Jessica says. “There’s a lot of tension in the salon.”
The folks at Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels leap into limos and do their dropoffs of luxurious loot — with armored guards, of course — to the homes and hotels of nominees and presenters.
For most agents, it’s a day like any other, except that their secretaries will be reconfirming that their names are on the right party lists. For those with nominated clients, it’s a good day to cash in on their heat, while it lasts. That means getting them movie deals — or being seen with them during lunch at The Grill.
“Lunch is normal,” says The Grill’s manager, Michael Goddard. “But Oscar night is as quiet as Yom Kippur.”
On the other hand, it’s the longest day of the year for restaurateurs giving Oscar parties. Victor Drai will work from 9 a.m. until three the following morning on the Columbia/TriStar event at his restaurant on LaCienaga Boulevard.
“It’s like giving three parties in one,” says Drai, who’s expecting 700 guests; 200 for a sit-down dinner, the rest for the post-Oscar festivities.
For Wolfgang Puck, today and tonight are like missions of military precision. He’ll spend his time helicoptering between the Governor’s Ball, which he’s catering at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and Spago, where Miramax is throwing its bash. They are about 25 miles apart.
Photographer/director Matthew Rolston will arrive at the Chandler Pavilion by 11 a.m. to ready the Costume Design award presentation he’s staging with models Tyra Banks, Irina, Frederique, Brandy, Veronica Webb, Patricia Velasquez, Michael Bergin, Joel West, Tyson, Marcus Schenkenberg and Bridget Hall (in the bride’s costume from “Restoration”); they’ll all be getting their hair done by Teddy Antolin and Chris McMillan of Estilo.
“It’s a living hell,” says Rolston spokesman Jim Johnson. Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell will also be backstage among the model madness; they’re presenting the Costume Design award with Pierce Brosnan.
Obviously, the top hair and makeup people are making top dollar today, all having been booked six months in advance. Cloutier’s Kim Goodwin will do Sharon Stone’s makeup, Kathleen McGarry will do Emma Thompson’s hair and makeup, Lucienne Zammit and Richard Marin will work on Jodie Foster (who’s going only to the Vanity Fair party), Joanne Gair will do Laura Dern’s makeup and Carol Shaw, Peter Savic and Enzo Angileri won’t even reveal the biggies they are booked for. Over at Art Luna’s salon, “we chant to stay calm,” says hair guru Luna.
Wanda McDaniel, Armani’s corporate liaison for the West Coast, finally gets a bit of a breather today, after 14 fittings a day last week.
“Up until 2 o’clock, we trouble-shoot,” she says. “We’ve gotten all the calls about the shoes being too small and the bags being too big. Then, for the first time in three months, I get to think about what I’ll wear.”
One wonders what’s left, since Emma Thompson, Sophia Loren, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Salma Hayek, Mira Sorvino and Rita Wilson are all wearing Armani. Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Timothy Hutton, Steven Spielberg and Liam Neeson will also be dressed by Armani. As of Friday, a spokeswoman for the designer would not say whether John Travolta would be dressed by him. Apparently, Travolta has an Armani tux, but Versace was claiming to be dressing him, too.
Somewhere in the Pacific Palisades, Nicole Kidman is wondering whether people will think she’s following in Uma Thurman’s footsteps by having commissioned an original Prada for the evening. Dianne Wiest is worried about fitting into her Versace. (So are Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Anjelica Huston and Kelly Preston.) On Friday, Angela Bassett was reportedly going to wear Versace (see sketch, left), but on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the designer said Bassett may have changed her mind. Susan Sarandon is choosing between her two Robert Dane dresses. Gwyneth Paltrow and Sandra Bullock are slithering into their Calvins. Whoopi Goldberg and Meryl Streep are climbing into Donna Karans. And Lauren Holly is looking longingly at the Versace she won’t be wearing now that she and Jim Carrey have broken up — and as of Friday, she wasn’t going.
David Zeisler of Kata Eyewear is busy delivering stylish sunglasses to Brad Pitt, Alicia Silverstone, Elisabeth Shue, Ben Stiller, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Nicolas Cage and Patricia Arquette, so the afternoon sun won’t make them squint into the cameras. And every single stretch in the fleets of Dav-El, Ascot and CLS is stocked with champagne, Pellegrino, Diet Coke and Jack Daniels, making for limo-lock on the already gridlocked streets.
“And we had to bring in a helluva lot more cars from San Diego,” says Dav-El’s Robert DiCicco.
Tony Perrone, nutritionist to the stars, is checking in with his clients who’ve been on his quick protein diet — no carbos at all — for the last few days.
“It gets rid of water retention,” he claims. “It polishes up already near-perfect physiques.”
Alan Berliner of the Berliner Photo Studio says his day will last 48 hours.
“At 3 p.m., I have to go to the Peninsula Hotel and shoot Claudia Schiffer and Halle Berry for Revlon. Then I’m shooting the Mortons party all night. My son Alex will be shooting arrivals and the Governor’s Ball. Our other photographers will be stationed at the Miramax party, the Paramount party and the Maple Drive party. We’re going crazy. It’s the biggest, nutsiest day of the year — and then we have to stay up and print!”
Perhaps in all of Los Angeles, there is only one person remaining calm — and that’s Peter Morton. Hollywood’s favorite host won’t be working the crowd at his famed Mortons tonight.
“Truthfully,” he admits, “I’ll be in the Bahamas playing golf. I just broke the news to Graydon Carter — he was a little puzzled. But, at the end of the day, I’m not in the film business and it’s not my party. If you want to, you can say I got the dates wrong.”

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