By Jasmine Elist, Amy Kaufman and Jen Yamato
Feb. 27, 2017
After the Oscar’s flub that turned tinsel town on its head, Hollywood was ready to dance it out. Heels were kicked off, grudges were hugged out, and glasses were clinked at the exclusive and elite Vanity Fair Oscars after party and Governors Ball.
Here’s what happened behind the velvet rope, and everything we saw after the telecast turned off.
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party at West Hollywood Park. The event, sponsored by Bulgari, Neuro Drinks and Diana Jenkins, is the most visible and successful fundraising event on Oscar night, this year raising an estimated $7 million.
“Silver anniversary. David and I haven't even reached that milestone yet,” John said from the white carpet, referring to his longtime partner, David Furnish.
That white carpet extended into the party, filling the three tents where the event was set up. Entryways leading to the tents were lined with purple hydrangeas and fuchsia orchids. Both bars offered beverages inspired by the titles of Oscar-nominated films, such as the “In the Moonlight” (vodka, blueberry juice, pear juice, lemon juice and lavender) and the "On the Fence" (vodka, blueberry juice and passion fruit).
As soon as the telecast began, guests took their seats in the main tent, where there was no shortage of flat-screen TVs playing the awards show. As the ceremony opened, Lea Michele, in a top-knot bun and Elie Saab gown, distractedly posed for kissy-face selfies with Brad Goreski.
For the fifth consecutive year, chef Gordon Ramsay prepared the five-course dinner menu, which included tuna sashimi, artichoke soup and a choice of filet mignon or sea bass. It concluded with blue cheese and poached pear and a smoked chocolate mousse.
Throughout the night, celebrities took to the stage to encourage guests to text in their pledges to support the foundation. It was the first year that all pledges would be matched by Survival Pictures.
“All of us are so very fortunate in so many ways, and this is our chance to make a difference,” said Sharon Stone as she encouraged guests to take out their phones and text their pledges.
The stars of Amazon’s “Transparent,” including Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass, did the same.
“At this party, it’s not rude to be texting all night. In fact, we encourage you to be texting all night. In fact, the guy next to you buried in his phone could be a hero,” Landecker said.
During commercial breaks, guests got up from their seats, posing for photos and mingling with friends. Tracee Ellis Ross, in a white fringe dress, posed for the event photographer and peeked at his camera after he snapped.
“Thank you so much. That’s very pretty,” she said before turning to face Laverne Cox. The two then shimmied to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”
Following the awards show, an auction took place and John and Furnish took the microphone to express their views on the current political climate.
“We’re going to extend an olive branch to the new administration,” said John. “We have to work with people, we can't work against them. I've already written to [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson. Dialogue is the most important thing we have.”
The auction offered a photograph of Carly Simon (sold for $70,000), a RETNA painting (sold for $100,000), tickets to that night's Vanity Fair party (sold for $75,000), among other lots.
Before the musical performance of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, John took the mic for one last reminder.
“This party and our work have always been about love. And about inclusion. And about fairness, for everyone.”
“Hey,” Jordan Horowitz said with a smile Sunday night at the Governors Ball party. The “La La Land” producer had found himself unexpectedly trending for the best possible reason. “At least I'm a meme now!”
Well into the longest night ever for the “La La Land” crew, Horowitz continued to rep his film as admirably off-screen as he had in the ceremony's final minutes when chaos reigned on the Oscars stage.
Accompanied by his wife, the director Julia Hart, Horowitz kept a good-natured smile on his face late into the Governors Ball after-party as guests and strangers kept coming up to commend him for swiftly and gracefully taking the mic to announce that “Moonlight,” not “La La Land,” had won best picture.
The biggest show of appreciation, however, came from “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins, who made it into the official Oscars after-party late, Oscar in hand — and made a beeline for Horowitz to share a hug and his own bewildered reaction to the uniquely crazy moment.
Guests streaming into the Governors Ball moments after the stunning gaffe that ended the 89th Oscars could not stop talking about the embarrassing mix-up that saw “La La Land” incorrectly announced as the best picture winner.
Servers with trays of braised beef, truffle mac 'n' cheese and baked potatoes topped with caviar greeted guests upstairs at the official Oscars after-party, everyone’s first social stop of the night. On the outside patio, a sushi and seafood raw bar served up custom-sliced sashimi, crab, oysters and chilled lobster for hungry guests.
Most people, however, made a dash for the booze first — the better to gossip excitedly, Champagne in hand, about just how exactly the biggest flub in Oscars history went down.
At first it seemed like presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were to blame, or the stagehands who somehow allowed three “La La Land” victory speeches to unfurl before producer Horowitz stepped up to the microphone to tell Jenkins and his “Moonlight” crew that they had won.
Best supporting actor nominee Jeff Bridges stood near the A24 table inside the party, locked in bemused conversation over the series of events that saw stagehands and then host Jimmy Kimmel walk onstage to help sort out the mess.
Just a few feet away, Lionsgate's tables were noticeably — and understandably — absent of “La La Land” stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and the film's key crew, including director Damien Chazelle.
Elsewhere in the cavernous Governors Ball, Netflix's Ted Sarandos mingled with Vince Vaughn and Andrew Garfield had his own meme-able moment with honorary Oscar winner Jackie Chan, who was still toting around his two stuffed pandas.
“Manchester by the Sea” supporting actor nominee Lucas Hedges seemed blithely unruffled by the Oscars scandal, hitting the dance floor with Dominic Cooper, Grammy-winning singer Cynthia Erivo, and “Moonlight”’s Trevante Rhodes as a circle of onlookers formed around them.
Later, Rhodes posed for pictures with his fellow Chirons — Ashton Sanders and Alex R. Hibbert, who all played that character in “Moonlight” — before joining "Nocturnal Animals" nominee Michael Shannon and "Fences" actor Stephen Henderson.
The party chatter evolved as guests regaled one another with every new development of the Oscars’ envelope controversy, from what just happened? to Beatty-blaming, to the realization that the Oscars' two-envelope system was somehow to blame for Beatty and Dunaway receiving the wrong envelope.
At the end of the night, everyone could agree on one thing: Oscars tabulators and envelope-wranglers PricewaterhouseCoopers have a lot of explaining to do — and the academy might be in the market for a new accounting firm.
One hour. That's all I had. So obviously I had to lose the shoes.
Sixty precious and specifically designated minutes are allotted to each reporter covering Vanity Fair’s storied Oscar party. Sixty minutes in which to spy on the Hollywood elite while not conducting interviews with the party guests under the magazine’s famous “don’t speak unless spoken to” party policy that makes time even more precious.
But with so much drama unfolding at the Dolby Theatre after the best picture mix-up — i.e., the biggest flub in Academy Awards history — it was hard to tear myself away to make the 4.7-mile drive to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. So by the time my car entered the lineup of black SUVs waiting to go through a marathon of security checkpoints on Santa Monica Boulevard, it was almost 11 p.m., my allotted hour.
I knew what I needed to do: Forget the slow-moving valet line, ditch my car at a meter and make my way by foot to the party. That meant I was forced to make a decision: Remove my heels and make a run for it, or lose valuable moments inside the biggest bash of the year.
And that is how I found myself sprinting barefoot through Beverly Hills on Sunday night.
Even so, getting in was a feat. Police officers stood on what seemed like every street corner, meant to deter the uninvited from getting even close to the entrance doors. And if you made it to the hallowed gates, you needed a special key to pass — along with my invite, I received a plastic-encased device shaped like a credit card that granted me access to the event.
But once I arrived, barefoot and breathless, I immediately felt special. Human-size red letters spelling out the magazine’s name bookended the doors as a mariachi band played and guests made their way down a hallway decorated with black-and-white Old Hollywood photographs before arriving at the red carpet. And you have to walk the carpet; there’s no way to bypass the shutterbugs. At this point, I was back in my heels, but still, instead of posing, I opted for the run-and-cover technique.
After checking in with a magazine representative who started running her stopwatch — OK, she didn’t have an actual timer, just an iPhone she was looking at nonstop — it was finally time to take in the scene. And after just a few minutes, it’s clear what all the fuss is about. It feels kind of like the best dream ever, one in which every huge star you’ve ever heard of is in the same room, and you’re all eating hamburgers and doughnuts together. Within the first five minutes of entering the party, I saw Jason Statham with his newly pregnant fiance Rosie Huntington-Whitley, “The Office” exes (or not?) Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak, Javier Bardem, Christian Louboutin, Mick Jagger, Mary J. Blige and Adrien Brody.
It was, to say the least, overwhelming. So I decided to take a quick lay of the land, heading past the iconic photo booth to a backroom with a DJ. Here, the room had been filled with small trees and a big dance floor, and people were actually dancing. Heidi Klum, Demi Lovato and Nick and Joe Jonas were all getting down to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
A few minutes of observation seemed to confirm what many have suspected — every celebrity from every corner of the world just magically knows one another. Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson jamming together to Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)”? Obviously! Jennifer Aniston grabbing LL Cool J by the arm? Of course! New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft posing for photos with Mariah Carey? Old pals!
There were groups of stars hanging together that seemed to make more sense, such as comedians Bill Hader, Adam Scott and Seth Rogen. But then there were mixes that frankly baffled the mind — Kate Hudson hanging with the two Jonas brothers, Sarah Silverman, Martin Short, Kate Beckinsale, Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen. What could a cigar-puffing Nick Jonas possibly be whispering into Short’s ear on the smoking deck? The world may never know.
Other conversations were easier to overhear, such as the one between Priyanka Chopra and Kaling.
“I knew what Mindy Kaling stood for from your books and your shows,” the “Quantico” star gushed to Kaling, “But seeing it in person? You’re everything and more.”
“Are you kidding me?” Kaling replied in disbelief, engulfing Chopra in a hug.
Elton John, meanwhile, sat on a couch with spouse David Furnish, fielding endless questions about why he was at the Vanity Fair party instead of his own legendary Oscar-night bash.
“Because it's finished!” he insisted, over and over again.
When you’re the singer of “Tiny Dancer,” you apparently do not have to order your own food. John’s bodyguard — yes, he had one, even though most stars appeared to be flying solo — flagged a server handing out In-N-Out burgers and asked her to deliver a couple to the couple.
“Maybe just one, so they can pick on it,” the hulking security dude suggested. “Yeah, give them one to start off with. And can we have the box?”
The In-N-Out gal — dressed in the fast food chain’s uniform — retreated to a bar on the patio that was well-stocked with burgers, miniature milk bottles and Coca Cola. Sara Bareilles, who’d performed during the Oscars ceremony, was idling there and stopped fellow musician Auli’i Cravalho as she walked by.
“You did an amazing job,” Bareilles told the 16-year-old. “And I love you because you did a costume change. I’m happy for you!”
The clock was nearing midnight, and my time at the event was running out long before anyone embroiled in the “Moonlight”/“La La Land” fiasco had arrived. I inched past Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, who were engaged in some rather frisky PDA against a wall, and checked back in with the magazine’s publicist. I was given my marching orders and headed toward the exit behind Reese Witherspoon, who had also removed her heels.
Apparently going barefoot in Beverly Hills is all the rage.
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