Vanity Fair Party
Though 500 fewer people were invited this year than last—just to keep things exclusive—there was plenty of starpower at Vanity Fair’s Oscar-viewing bash and afterparty at Mortons. A glittery crowd that included Joaquin Phoenix, Sandra Bullock, Mick Jagger, Uma Thurman and Robert Altman dined on mini crab cakes, In-N-Out burgers, three-cheese pizzas and smoked-salmon blinis; later there was dancing to DJ Mateo. The highlights? Rachel Bilson brought her own supply of candy, Best Actress nominee Felicity Huffman had put her high heels on the table—and Madonna was engrossed in conversation with author Salman Rushdie.
Architect Basil Walter transformed Mortons, adding a 7,000-sq.-ft. room with bamboo flooring to the back of the restaurant. The mood: “Old Hollywood nightclub,” says a spokesperson. Guests nibbled on cookies stenciled with Vanity Fair cover images (100 lucky ones got Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley‘s recent nude spread). The best part: Zippo lighters at each table engraved with the Noel Coward line “I’ve been to a marvelous party.”
As the gasps finally died down after Crash’s surprise Best Picture win, Oscargoers got down to business: party time! The first stop, as always, was the Governors Ball, thrown by the Academy directly above the Kodak Theatre. Some 1,500 guests mingled, noshed and applauded the arrival of winners like Reese Witherspoon and George Clooney. Other stars had more personal admirers: Marc Anthony gazed adoringly at wife Jennifer Lopez, whom he called “a perfect 20,” while Heath Ledger jokingly hugged and kissed the space vacated by Michelle Williams, who briefly left to chat with Paul Giamatti.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
After the long ceremony, hungry ball guests were more than ready to sample the dishes prepared by Wolfgang Puck, in his 13th year as chef. Sitting at glass tabletops, some covered in white Ultrasuede, they munched on duck-sausage pizza, chicken with black-truffle risotto, smoked salmon matzo with caviar, and miniburgers (a favorite of Jamie Foxx’s; he quickly scarfed down three of them). Best of all, they each received chocolate Oscars—so, in the end, everybody went home a winner.
READY, SET, PARTY HOP!
As they refueled, the night’s winners reflected on their new accessories (“It’s heavier than you’d think,” said Reese Witherspoon), while everyone else finalized their party plans. “We’re tearing up the town,” said Steve Carell, adding that he and wife Nancy Walls were gearing up for fast times—and fast food. “In-N-Out Burger will be our last stop before we head home.”
Elton John’s Party
EVERYONE INTO THE POOL!
As the 520 dinner guests arrived at the 14th annual Oscar party hosted by Sir Elton John and David Furnish to raise money for the singer’s AIDS foundation, they were handed ballots to select their picks for the evening’s winners. After cocktails, a five-course meal and the telecast, Sir Elton John announced the name of the Oscar-pool winner once, twice, then a third time before Will & Grace star Eric McCormack finally heard his wife Janet’s name being called. When he shouted, “Yes! Here!” and came rushing from another room, the host then named a second winner: McCormack. Beaming like shocked lottery winners, the couple, who had filled out their ballots independently of each other, made off with prize watches furnished by Chopard, the jeweler that cosponsored the fund-raiser with Audi and VH1.
CUE THE LIGHTS
Beneath a tent at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center, music types came together with Hollywood’s finest in a subdued setting accented in tones of periwinkle and chocolate brown. The one jarring detail? The bright red piano brought in from Las Vegas and later put up for auction on eBay, with an opening bid from Sharon Stone of $170,000, to raise funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “We hope, with its history, that it raises a lot of money for us,” said Sir Elton, whose table guests included Donatella Versace, Mary J. Blige and Stone. Given no table assignment, Sir Elton’s dog Arthur mingled.
Some 75 of Clooney’s pals, including Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves and Naomi Watts, feted his win until 4 a.m. at cozy Dan Tana’s. “It was classy, intimate and sincere,” says Craig Susser, the restaurant’s manager.
THE LATE LATE SHOW
At Prince’s Hollywood Hills home, Morgan Freeman, Terrence Howard and Venus and Serena Williams partied like it was 3121 (emblazoned on hostesses’ uniforms, the number is the title of his new album, out March 21). The dance floor was hopping as Prince performed with his newest protégée, Tamar, until 4 a.m…. Young Hollywood stayed up for the bash hosted by manager Rick Yorn, agent Patrick Whitesell, producer Mike De Luca and party producer Brent Bolthouse at Soho House. Joining Mary-Kate Olsen (above) were Keira Knightley, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams and a squabbling Paris Hilton and Stavros Niarchos…. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe stopped by the Lionsgate party at Chateau Marmont. The tired pair headed out before midnight…. Chris Rock, Nick Lachey (above) and Michael Vartan hit the party PEOPLE threw with film producer Phil Maloof at his Beverly Hills home. Slippers and foot massages were provided, along with a 3 a.m. country breakfast cooked by Britney Spears‘s dad, Jamie.