By Jenny Berg Posted February 19, 2009, 12:30 PM EST
CHICAGO From area nonprofits to Moët & Chandon, this weekend's Oscar parties will feature a wide range of host organizations. Here's a preview of some of the movie-centric happenings.
While most Oscar-related events will coincide with the ceremony's broadcast on Sunday night, River North's Vermilion Restaurant will kick things off on Saturday with a Slumdog Millionaire-themed celebration. In addition to a thematic menu of Bombay street fare, the event will feature speciality drinks such as blood-orange-chili caipirinhas. Between 8 and 9 p.m., a troupe of Bollwywood dancers will perform a choreographed routine to the film of honor's theme song, “Jai Ho.” On Wednesday, the restaurant's general manager said he had 100 reservations already on the books, and was expecting several walk-ins on Saturday night.
Sunday evening will see Academy Awards viewing parties taking place at other local restaurants, including River North's Hub 51—where film critic Richard Roeper will host an event replete with cocktails, food stations, and raffles—and the South Loop's Tapas Valencia, which will open to the public later this month. Hosted by Chicago magazine and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Spanish restaurant's happening will feature a “Dark Night" theme, a red-carpet entrance, and prizes for best-dressed guests.
In yet another viewing party, Moët & Chandon will overtake event space Gallery 1028 for a by-invitation event that calls for “red carpet ready" attire. Featuring appetizers and champagne cocktails, the soiree is expected to draw some 150 guests, among them members of the media, local business leaders, and key sommeliers.
“Moët & Chandon is the exclusive champagne of the 81st Academy Awards,“ said Kimberly Burt, a rep for the champagne label. “This new relationship with the Academy inspired us to host a local event [that would allow] Moët and our guests to celebrate the Oscars here in Chicago."
Lakeview's Center on Halsted—a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community center—will also host an Oscar celebration. This one, dubbed “On the Red Carpet,” will overtake the community center's gym, which “we are transforming into a ballroom for the evening," said Wayne Harth, event co-chair and director of catering at Fairmont Chicago. According to Harth, the event will draw some 350 guests, and will present a “great opportunity to showcase the center, and what it's all about, to people from all walks of life."
Downtown, the Gene Siskel Film Center will host around 200 guests at the city's only Academy-sanctioned viewing party. Features of the evening will include a dinner buffet, a big-screen telecast of the ceremony, and a silent auction.