STARRY NIGHTS

Byline: Marcy Medina

“It’s certainly not a white-collar day,” Tilda Swinton observed as she stepped off the beach at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards clad in a royal blue Viktor & Rolf. The crowd — traditionally turned out in an unapologetic antithesis of Oscar glitz — included indie royalty like Christina Ricci, John Cameron Mitchell, Eric Stoltz and John Waters. Selma Blair showed up in jeans and fashionably unwashed locks.
“I’m trying to achieve that Sid Vicious effect,” she whispered, “which really doesn’t work with clean hair.”
“Am I still the indie queen?” Ricci asked with a sigh. “Goddammit! When does the next queen arrive and take the hat?”
For the reigning commercial queen, Nicole Kidman, the beach party offered a chance to relax before the big day.
“My parents couldn’t deal with dragging around to any more awards shows with me,” she said. “They’re actually off camping with no phone, no TV, no radio. I said to them, ‘I hope you’ll call me on Monday, at least.”‘
The flurry of Oscar festivities actually began the Wednesday before, when WWD, Jacqui Getty and A Diamond is Forever threw a bash in Hancock Park. For party-hopping actresses, the immaculate all-white dress code posed a bit of a problem.
“I’ve become a compulsive handwasher,” said Lauren Graham, smoothing her white Thierry Mugler tuxedo.
“Well, I have no underwear on, which is even more nerve-wracking,” countered Patricia Heaton.
Lisa Marie felt differently. “It’s nice to see everyone wearing white. It makes Oscar week seem so innocent,” she said with a sarcastic laugh.
Gwyneth Paltrow was just happy to be wearing something other than her sweatpants.
“I go to yoga at 5 a.m. and then straight to work, so I’m so lucky I had another outfit in the back of my car,” she said, patting down her pair of $90 Abercrombie & Fitch trousers.
Rufus Wainwright, who performed a few songs poolside on a white baby grand, got the diamonds part of the theme even without the help of Fred Leighton.
“I’m wearing diamonds from the Home Shopping Network,” he said. “Borrowed, of course.”
Across town, Tom Ford, who usually keeps a low profile in Hollywood, braved the flashbulbs to host a book party at the Gucci store for the godfather of paparazzi, Ron Galella.
“If someone wouldn’t give him a picture, he’d chase them down, and I admire that,” Ford said. “In the end, I think most people were really thankful that he followed them because he made them look good.”
The guest of honor, with a camera slung around his neck, kept watch at the door as Diane Keaton, Rita Wilson and Daryl Hannah filed in.
“It’s my job to take pictures,” he said, “so let’s hope more celebrities show up!”
The next night, the Australian Film and Television Association threw a party for its Oscar nominees at the consulate in Beverly Hills, and a few miles away, Larry Gagosian held his annual pre-Oscar opening, this time for Julian Schnabel’s “Big Girl Paintings.” The show drew the likes of Elton John, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman and Paltrow. New Yorker Adrien Brody showed up even though he’d already seen the paintings back East. “I’m glad I did, because tonight there are so many people standing in front of them you can’t see a thing,” he said.
On Saturday night, the pre-Oscar festivities came to a close when a slew of studios hosted their own parties — Universal/Dreamworks at Spago, Miramax at Sky Bar and Lion’s Gate at Mirabelle, where the big surprise turned out to be Oprah Winfrey, who held court with Halle Berry and P. Diddy in a corner booth. At Miramax’s annual event, at which actors spoof one another’s films, Benjamin Bratt scored the biggest hit of the night with his satire of the meddlesome heroine in “Amelie.”
“To amuse herself,” Bratt joked, “Amelie would call Valentino and tell him Halle Berry got her Oscar dress at Target.”

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