party chat

Vulture’s Behind-the-Scenes Party Timeline of Oscar Weekend

Elton John and Florence and the Machine at Elton’s Viewing Party.

We’re still reeling from the epic letdown that was this year’s “young, hip” ceremony. Fortunately, the parties leading up to and following the Oscars did not disappoint. For entertainment that outshines Franco’s faraway stare and Hathaway’s mad effort to distract us from her co-host’s NYU performance piece (our best guess), read this chronicle of the weekend’s boozy bashes, assembled by Vulture’s L.A. team.

Thursday Night

6:08 p.m. The weekend kicks off with The Hollywood Reporter’s Nominees Night, held at Getty House, home of L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Director David O. Russell checks out the salad bar while wearing a cream suit and silver sneakers. Someone’s trying to take the “most stylish filmmaker” crown from the eternally scarved Darren Aronofsky.

6:37 p.m. For some reason, there’s a twinky twentysomething guy in a Black Swan dress at this party. “I like to show off my shoulders; I like to show off my clavicle,” he explains, identifying himself only as Kevin. “Suits are so constricting and frustrating. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony fought for the right for women to wear pants, so why can I not, as a dude, wear a lovely, lovely dress?” Though it should be noted that he’s also wearing torn stockings and clashy red heels. Not quite as lovely.

6:43 p.m. Still, Fairly Legal star Sarah Shahi is really into it and comes up to tell Kevin how good he looks. In the absence of any big celebrities so far, he’s the star attraction.

6:50 p.m. Though not everyone agrees. “What is up with that guy?” sniffs Disney head Rich Ross.

7:10 p.m. Finally, some starpower: True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgaard, six-foot-four and visible from space, is mobbed by well-wishers.

7:15 p.m. “Mi casa es su casa,” Villaraigosa tells the guests. “It really is. This is public housing at its finest.”

7:17 p.m. Estelle Harris (George’s mom from Seinfeld) is here, and she’s dressed like a Cossack ready for Siberian winter.

7:35 p.m. Who’s the tall handsome man who’s squiring Heather Graham? That’s be Jason Silva, a host on Current TV (the Al Gore network Keith Olbermann is headed to).

8:02 p.m. Ari Graynor and Justin Bartha are pulling for the actor they starred with in last year’s Holy Rollers: “I think we’re both partial to Jesse Eisenberg in Social Network,” Graynor says. Bartha just spoke to Eisenberg recently; how is the notoriously neurotic actor holding up during awards season? “No comment,” he laughs.

Friday Night

5:43 p.m. Halle Berry creates buzz just by entering the Soho House in West Hollywood, where she’s co-hosting the Women in Film party honoring this year’s female nominees. Film producer Cathy Schulman (Crash) co-hosts the Perrier-Jouët-sponsored event.

6:05 p.m. A beaming Jacki Weaver (Best Supporting Actress nominee, Animal Kingdom) tells us she’s finally feeling less overwhelmed by the hectic pace of awards season. Now she just needs to get used to being an in-demand actress. “I’ve been offered three films and three television series, and I’ll be working out what my options are in the next few weeks,” she says. “I think I’m going to have to come live here for a while, which would be absolutely fabulous!” Also fabulous: Weaver reveals she’ll be starring in the Chekhov play Uncle Vanya with countrywoman Cate Blanchett later this year in America. “I think we were going to go to Lincoln Center but that’s fallen through,” she says. “We may go to Washington.”

6:43 p.m. Robert Duvall walks out of the video rooms at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. “I’m getting cultured,” he laughs. He is there to celebrate the James Franco/Gus Van Sant collaboration “Unfinished.” Guests watch a projection of outtakes from My Own Private Idaho that James Franco has stitched together as a long-form art piece. It’s kind of hypnotic to see River Phoenix repeat lines over and over and over.

6:47 p.m. Women in Film: John Demsey (President MAC and Estée Lauder) talks about Lady Gaga being the spokesperson for his Viva Glam lipstick, and teases that the Grammy Awards may not be the last time we see her in an egg. He suggests we go to on March 17 because Gaga is “hatching something new for us.” His words undoubtedly contain some sort of clue, if only we could decipher it. Think, Vulture, think!

6:50 p.m. Over at Arianna Huffington’s Brentwood, California, home, we’re at a party celebrating the release of Kathy Freston’s new book, Veganist. But we have Oscars on our mind, so we approach Lorne Michaels, who is standing against the wall of a large foyer, and ask him why more comedies aren’t nominated. His response: “It isn’t as if we’re not appreciated and don’t get enough awards. We get enough awards. We’re all right. There’s no shortage of awards.”

6:57 p.m. We Live in Public director Ondi Timoner is on the lookout for Franco at the Gagosian. She’s intending to make a Robert Mapplethorpe biopic with him soon, and she’s got some potential actresses for the role of Patti Smith that she wants his take on.

7 p.m. Inside the Huffington home, Vulture asks Rupert Murdoch’s wife, Wendi, what she thinks about media consolidation. “It all depends on the deal,” she says. “I love Arianna and it’s amazing that she did a deal with AOL. I’m so happy for her. I love my friends who work for her and make a lot of money.” If there’s one common thread from people we know who work at HuffPo, it’s that they don’t know what to do with all the money.

7:08 p.m. The Gagosian: You expect some scruffy blond twinks at a party hosted by Gus Van Sant, but really: Is that Fabio from Survivor?

8 p.m. Huffington: Standing near the pass-through bar between Huffington’s study and a back hallway, Tracey Ullman shares a thought: “I like Colin Firth. I’m not a royalist — I’m anti-royalist — but I’m pro-Colin Firth. He’s a lovely guy.”

8:23 p.m. Gagosian: Songwriter Diane Warren, who won the Golden Globe for her Burlesque song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” tells us that her Oscar snub still stings. “How did that happen? There’s only four songs nominated. I just don’t get it. I think the voting rules have to really change; it’s crazy.” Did she hear Franco’s “leaked” rendition of the song, which he claims he would have performed at the ceremony had it been nominated? “I loved it. I’m a fan. I’m bummed out that it won’t be part of the show, because that would have been the best moment ever.” She adds, “I wanted to cry. Well, I wanted to cry when I wasn’t nominated after winning the Golden Globe, and I wanted to cry more after this.”

8:25 p.m. We approach Oliver Stone at Freston’s book party, and he makes it clear he isn’t feeling this year’s hosting duo. “I kinda miss the old guys — Baldwin and Martin — I thought they did a great job last year,” he says. “I think it’s going to be hard for those kids to entertain; they’re actors but showmen are something else. Older guys have that sense of play. I thought last year was one of the best shows in years. Why change it when it’s not broken? They’re pandering. They always pander to that demographic 17 to 49 or whatever the fuck it is.” What’s he working on now? “The Forgotten History of the United States, a twelve-hour series for Showtime. I’m also starting on a thriller, Savages, which should be a lot of fun for that younger demographic.”

8:45 p.m. Producer Brian Grazer fills Vulture in on his first Colin Firth encounter. “I sat with [him] the other night at a dinner party which was exciting — I never met him before. So Tom [Hanks] introduced me, which made me excited. The two of them are so brainy, talking about world politics. I know something about the culture, but those guys were super brainy — it was fun to be part of it. I soaked it in, made some minor contributions, and asked good questions.” A minute later, Oliver Stone passes by and starts chatting with Grazer, who tells Stone, “I sat next to you on a flight in 1980. We talked about Night Shift; I pitched the idea to you. Your reaction wasn’t favorable.” They both laugh.


12:31 p.m. At the casual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Best Documentary Oscar nominee Sebastian Junger (Restrepo) says he only took five minutes to get dressed for this event. But he tells us the trickery of tuxedos for the Oscars will take longer to master. “I’ve only worn a tux three times in my life,” he says. “There’s all kind of weird things to buckle. The buttons come out of the shirt completely. They’re like beads or something. It’s really bizarre. It’s insane.”

12:55 p.m. Although he’s rooting for his Rabbit Hole star Nicole Kidman, director John Cameron Mitchell tells us that he won’t actually be at the Oscars show on Sunday to cheer her on in person. It just isn’t worth the hassle apparently. “It’s a lot of work,” he explains.

3:04 p.m. Oscars co-host James Franco isn’t about to spill any details about the show backstage. “They wouldn’t be surprises if I told you,” he says with a smile. Is Franco, who’s “feeling pretty good” about the Oscars, trying to curb our expectations? “The Oscars are a thing,” he says. “They’ve been going on for 83 years. I’m kind of joining a bigger apparatus. So it’s going to be pretty familiar in some ways. But I think it’ll be fun. They’re allowing us to be relaxed. They’re not stretching us into some mold that we don’t fit. So I think it’ll be fun.” In a movie, this would be called foreshadowing.

10:06 p.m. At the Rolling Stone party at Drai’s Hollywood, there’s something poignant about a tucked-away and lonely-seeming 50 Cent sitting at a banquette with only one other dude, looking wistfully out at the crowd.

10:15 p.m. Do the overworked Glee kids actually have time to see movies? They do, thanks to screeners. “I watch them in my trailer!” laughs the hot-footed Harry Shum Jr. “I watched 127 Hours with Chord [Overstreet], because we thought, ‘If we don’t watch these movies now, we’ll never get to watch them.’ That’s pretty much our spare time. Thank God for the screeners, because we’d never be able to make it out to movies.”

10:25 p.m. Clark Duke suggests a dark horse for Best Picture. “Is Ghostbusters 2 nominated, or no?” he asks. Duke spent the last year playing supporting roles in Hot Tub Time Machine and Kick-Ass, two movies that don’t immediately warrant awards attention. “I was snubbed, as you know,” he says. “Most of my friends and fellow comedic actors were snubbed. I love comedy and I love drinking, so the Globes are more my show. Comedy gets snubbed in general, it gets no respect.”

10:37 p.m. Aaron Sorkin briefly hits the party, heading for the bar with his date.

10:45 p.m. Cognitive-dissonance alert: A go-go dancer in a gothic baby-doll dress is gyrating on a pole while images from Toy Story 3 play on TVs behind her.

11:02 p.m. Sarah Silverman has little to say about the Oscar race: “I got nothing. I liked them all!” But she opens up a bit about this week’s episode of 30 Rock, which featured a baby-talking, sexy comedienne who many people thought was based on her. “I didn’t see it yet, but from what I hear, that’s fucking insulting if it is,” she says. “I’m sure it wasn’t. Maybe it was other people stirring up shit.” She then asks, “How was it like me? Tell me what about her was like me.” When told about the similarities in voice, pigtails, and wardrobe, she thinks for a bit. “Oh, yeah? Oh. Well, no comment.”

11:20 p.m. The Roots are onstage and the crowd is impressed by Damon Bryson’s mobility while handling an enormous tuba.

11:37 p.m. Dancing With the Stars hoofer Maksim Chmerkovskiy is on a raised platform, dancing with a clutch of girls in short, glittery dresses.


4:10 p.m. At the Elton John Oscar Viewing Party at the Pacific Design Center, the non-famous guests are starting to arrive and each one wants to get their picture snapped standing against the press line background. Their seats at the sit-down dinner/viewing party reportedly cost $5,000 each, with proceeds going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

4:44 p.m. Jenna Ushkowitz can’t spill what the glee club sings with Gwyneth Paltrow in the next new episode of Glee, but she does say, “It’s definitely a rock-and-roll song.” Her dream guest stars? Hugh Jackman, and Sandra Oh as her crazy aunt. She tells us she has yet to meet Oscar host Anne Hathaway, who landed herself a guest spot as Kurt’s aunt on the show after a run-in with Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy at the Golden Globes. And even if she had, she probably would have been too “starstruck” and “speechless” to say anything. “I don’t know when that [episode] is going to happen,” says Ushkowitz. “We only heard about that. [I’m] so excited. She’s amazing. I think she and James are going to do awesome tonight.” More foreshadowing.

4:47 p.m. We ask Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, who recently hosted the WGA Awards with co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, if he’d ever want to host the Oscars. “Yeah, but I would be scared to death,” he answers. “Boy, that would be pretty frightening because I’m not a real song and dance man myself. I don’t know what I would do. Now you’ve got me nervous. What if they ask?! I’m not ready to even be asked!” We changed the subject, wondering whether there were any more fun guest stars coming up on Modern Family. “No, I hope not. Oh, did I say that aloud?” He doesn’t think they’re necessary when they’ve “got a great cast.” He continues, “I think sometimes when we have guest stars on, it’s just a glaring example of how good our cast is. I like working actors to get opportunities to be on our show.”

4:50 p.m. Glee’s Jane Lynch walks by the press line dressed in black pants and a sparkly gold jacket.

4:54 p.m. You can’t accuse Sharon Osbourne of not being truthful. The secret to looking glamorous, according to the star: “Money.”

5:10 p.m. What does $5,000 per seat buy you at the Elton John party? “We try and go around to every table and say hello. We give them a good meal,” says Elton John. “A lot of people come for years, so we know the people that are here. They like to socialize when the Oscar broadcast gets a bit boring. After the first half-hour, it plummets to the deeps of the earth and then it gets interesting again towards the end.” He sings the praises of Florence and the Machine, who will be performing at the Oscars and his party later on: “I’ve always loved the record. I’ve always loved her originality. She’s a real original British talent. They said yes when we first asked them. I was so happy about that.”

5:30 p.m. As the Oscars telecast begins, a voice-over speaker asks the guests to take their seats for the dinner viewing party.

5:58 p.m. Although a sit-down dinner is being served and the telecast is being broadcast on multiple screens inside the main ballroom, several celebs are milling about the foyer and outdoor patio, which has turned into an unofficial smoking section. We spot Al Roker getting chocolate at the Godiva station, Emma Roberts smoking, Matthew Morrison carrying drinks from the bar, Holly Robinson Peet and Taye Diggs hugging, and a line for the porta-pottis featuring Baz Luhrmann and Dustin Lance Black.

6:25 p.m. James Franco’s Charlie Sheen joke gets a laugh from the crowd in the outdoor party area.

7:51 p.m. Emma Roberts, Chace Crawford, and another male are outside smoking and planning their next move: The Vanity Fair party, the one that even celebs want to crash. “Let’s just go,” Roberts tells the guys. “Just show up. What are they going to say, no?”

8:17 p.m. Rufus Wainwright, who’s wearing flip-flops, is very happy when Natalie Portman wins for Best Actress, giving her a big clap as he watches the TV. Seconds after Portman’s win, a partygoer behind us makes the following observation about the actress: “She’s really matured since Star Wars. She was bad in Star Wars.” To Portman’s credit, nobody was good in Star Wars.

8:44 p.m. We spot Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother and ask her if she’s got her own suspicions about whose wedding that was in the season premiere. “Of course I do. I’m not sharing them though,” she says with a smile. How about why Robin’s suddenly a Barney/Nora shipper then? “I think she wants Barney to settle down and find someone and be happy,” says Smulders. “She knows that would make him really happy. I don’t know why it’s Nora specifically, but he seems to really like her, so I think she’s pushing for it.”

8:54 p.m. The auction benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation is under way. Two tickets to SNL, including backstage party access, end up going for $75,000. In total, nearly $4 million is raised during the party.

8:58 p.m. Dave Annable tells us he’s not sure if Brothers & Sisters is coming back. ABC has been keeping the cast on their toes regarding a renewal, but Annable hopes it returns for another season. “It’s the best job,” says the actor, who’s just grateful to be working after coming to L.A. five years ago. “It’ll be a sad day when it comes to an end. But hopefully, we’ll have one more year.”

9:24 p.m. Mamie Gummer, who’s hanging out with Claire Danes and her husband Hugh Dancy, reveals to us that she’ll be shooting another episode of The Good Wife in April. As for whether mom Meryl Streep might grant creators Robert and Michelle King’s wish to have her on the show, she says we’ll have to ask Meryl about that.

9:26 p.m. A partygoer exclaims, “I’m so high, I have to go to the bathroom,” before realizing everyone around her heard that.

10 p.m. The party guests rush back inside the ballroom for a performance by Florence and the Machine. Florence Welch, who’s dancing around the stage barefoot, wows the audience with her vocals and energy.

10:30 p.m. Elton John joins Florence and the Machine onstage. He takes the piano and as the sounds of “Tiny Dancer” begin to play, partygoers start whipping out their cell phones and cameras, trying to capture the duet. They follow up the song with a duet of Florence and the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love.”

10:48 p.m. Florence and the Machine closes the set with a crowd favorite, “Dog Days Are Over.” Florence asks the audience to jump in unison repeatedly during the end of the song, unless they’re sitting down or are worried about their diamonds. Surprisingly, the older crowd actually gets jumping.

10:59 p.m. Kelly Osbourne takes a spill in the foyer, falling on her bottom. It takes two guys to help her back up in her body-hugging dress.

11:10 p.m. We tell Kyle MacLachlan we loved his very funny, very kooky, very different guest arc on How I Met Your Mother this season. “The scary thing is it’s probably closer to the truth than any of the stuff I’ve done,” he says. “I love that type of comedy.”

11:40 p.m. Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Josh Hutcherson, and Zachary Levi are dancing up a storm. Tisdale’s shoes are already off and soon Levi takes off his jacket too. Hutcherson is dancing so hard, he’s starting to developing beads of sweat on his forehead. But most impressive is how energetically Hudgens is dancing in sky-high heels with platforms without so much as a wobble. Maybe she can help Kelly Osbourne.

11:42 p.m. Outside the Vanity Fair party at Sunset Tower on the Strip, paparazzi and crowds go nuts as the very-tiny Justin Bieber and his girlfriend Selena Gomez rush from the party into a waiting SUV, heads ducked as it if were raining.

12:01 a.m. Inside the party, Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Furness walk past a waiter who’s got In-N-Out cheeseburgers on a silver platter. “Deb, you want a burger?” asks the high-spirited former Oscar host. “No, I’d rather die,” she replies, grim.

12:05 a.m. Luke Matheny, with his wild, curly hair and endearing live-action short win (for God of Love), is the party’s most popular guest. Even Tom Hanks wants some face time with Matheny, telling him how much he enjoyed his speech and posing happily for pictures. “That was surreal!” Matheny later says about the Hanks photo op. “We’ve got this huge poster of him in Joe Versus the Volcano on our wall.”

12:25 a.m. New Transformers ingénue Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (perhaps better known so far from modeling for Victoria’s Secret) backs Jason Statham up against the bar and begins kissing his neck … all the while reaching behind him to pull over the bartender’s bowl of martini olives, then popping one in her mouth. Who says models don’t eat?

Vulture’s Behind-the-Scenes Party Timeline of Oscar Weekend