At the preview of the Oscar’s Governors Ball I sat at a beautifully appointed table, held a specially decorated bottle of bubbly – Piper-Heidsieck of course – and sampled the macaroni and cheese which is just one of the many culinary delights Wolfgang Puck will dish up. The mac was a cut above and I think the hint of truffle was the secret. I also tasted Sterling Wines, but just a sip. Hey, I’m a professional!
Famed chef, Puck, is readying the cuisine for Oscar night. He said he makes his most talked about dinner for Academy Award Oscar winners, “Only once a year!”
“We try to do new things but we also know that our Hollywood friends love our special favorites. One thing I always remember – these stars have been starving themselves for weeks to look good on the red carpet so THEY ARE HUNGRY!”
Wolfgang told me that the raw bar alone weighs in at 2,600 lbs. It holds 350 lbs. of troll-caught Atlantic Big Eye Tuna, 20 whole wild-caught yellowtail, 1,000 stone crab claws, 7,500 individual shrimp, 300 Maine lobsters and 1,300 oysters. That plus some Spago smoked-salmon Oscar shaped pizza and gold-dusted chocolate Oscars makes the triumphant celebration a “dream of gold!”
RARE BIRDS OF HOLLYWOOD: Rooney Mara, a nominee for “Carol,” told me about Awards Season with a lovely smile: “There’s two hands to it. It’s a huge honor and it’s such a great way to celebrate all of our films, but then, it can be very overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been celebrating the same person’s birthday for months on end and it’s just never gonna stop. Sometimes it can feel like a little bit much, like I want the birthday party to end. But then there is this other wonderful side to it where you get to meet all these people that you’re inspired by and want to work with. It’s really nice to be able to celebrate film with other people who also wanna celebrate film.”
Leo-LEO- LEEEEE-OOOOOH! The hysteria generated by DiCaprio’s arrival on the red carpet at the SAG Awards on Saturday was like feeling The Big One. Fans in the bleachers had been pretty subdued until his appearance. Here’s the funny part. As he joined the crowded-together line up of celebs waiting to be barraged by the flashes of the camera-brigade they didn’t scream but you could you see his magnetism affecting them too. Stars openly stared at him or even tried to maneuver closer to where he was standing. There are only a few personalities that can noticeably change the whole direction of an event – the entire attention of hundreds of famous and non-famous faces. Leo once told me that the only way to cope with people calling your name while you can’t stop is “to look straight ahead and keep walking and smiling.” He did just that, with an occasional pause to wave at the fans in the bleachers.
Leonardo was the biggest part of the event. His win for Best Actor was applauded and, of course, the buzz is that he’s all but landed the Best Actor Oscar. He speaks with knowledge and passion about climate change and he’s also a good sport about the sillier questions in the pressroom. When I think about how many years he’s been at the center of the screams and chants of his name – since he was a teen – you’ve got to give him props for his dedication, his attitude, and his growing star power.
I was at a front and center table at the Critics’ Choice Awards with members of Universal’s film marketing team. I love them but, no offense guys, what made it even better was having Bryce Dallas Howard sit down next to me. Bryce, of course, stars in Universal’s “Jurassic World,” a monster of a film that was the biggest around the globe in 2015 until Disney unleashed you know what. A table away was J.J. Abrams whose “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” knocked Bryce’s pic from the number one spot.
Bryce was gorgeous in a super low-cut cleavage revealing black dress. Even getting deluged with enthusiasm – hugs and handshakes from the people who came to meet her – there was never a wardrobe malfunction. OK, I did notice a few guys taking a naughty peek. Bryce’s double-stick tape has to be better than any I’ve ever tried. She sparkled more than her necklace.
Now Director Howard (not her Dad, Ron, but Bryce herself) will take her short film “Solemates” to Sundance. She says it’s a couple’s journey through life revealed through shoes. Think she was inspired by those high heels she famously ran in throughout “Jurassic?”
You can’t sit still during the commercial breaks at the awards. There’s a frenzy of table hopping and I admit to giving congrats to Sly Stallone who is so emotional about all the attention to “Creed”. When I went up to Leslie Mann and Helen Mirren, they were giving each other confidence about an upcoming project. Amy Schumer was a delight. She was fixing host, T.J. Miller’s make up while he warned her, ”Don’t be funnier than me, please.”
It was quite a night and there were a lot of gasps when “Spotlight” took Best Picture. After the Oscar noms it was all “Revenant.” Now all bets are off again. Who says awards season can’t be fun and perplexing?