Byline: Louise Farr

For years, producer Lili Fini Zanuck watched the Oscar telecast with a professional eye, longing to get her hands on it — even though it’s the show everyone else couldn’t wait to sink their fangs into.
“It was always, ‘The show’s too long, the wrong picture won, and I hated everybody’s dress,”‘ said Zanuck, about the old days. “Now I think everyone comes looking wonderful.”
Well, almost everyone. As a safety measure, soon after she signed on as the Oscars’ first female producer (husband Dick Zanuck is co-producing), Fini Zanuck hired stylist L’Wren Scott to dress the show, which was almost as important a move as doing away with those embarrassing dance numbers.
Zanuck knows her clothes. And knowing that her workday would start at 10 a.m. at the Shrine Auditorium, her own Oscar attire was immediately on her mind.
As the big night approached, she worried, “Can I find something to wear that’s appropriate for the Governor’s Ball, but that I can wear for the 12 hours or whatever before I get there?”
Finally, Zanuck — a longtime Giorgio Armani fan — decided to let Armani solve her problem. The solution: a powder blue suit with a long jacket and clear beads like water droplets on the pants. And a couple of weeks before the Oscars at the Armani boutique in Beverly Hills, a bawdy luncheon was held in Zanuck’s honor. Armani himself was in Milan (presumably slaving over Zanuck’s Oscar night outfit). But a powerhouse group of Zanuck’s friends showed up, including Sherry Lansing, Barbara and Nancy Davis, Joanna Poitier, Melanie Cook and Salma Hayek.
After accepting a mock Oscar inscribed and signed by Armani, Zanuck played to her audience, telling them in her throaty voice that she was convinced the Academy had actually asked her husband to produce the show and that Dick Zanuck had answered, “We’d love to.”
“I’m trying to blaze a trail for a competent woman producer to get the gig by herself,” she said, as models circulated in front of the guests. Clothes, of course, weren’t Fini Zanuck’s only worry. “This is not my birthday party,” she insisted. “It’s not a night about being a girl.”

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