Vanity Fair returned to the Oscar party landscape in a new venue (with better views), a smaller size, and chicken potpies.
Vanity Fair put its hat back in the Oscar ring last night, returning after last year’s sabbatical with a smaller viewing dinner and after-party at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Long known as the evening’s hottest ticket, the fete drew an A-list-only crowd, seeing the likes of Kate Winslet, Sean Penn, Penélope Cruz, Mickey Rourke, Madonna, Elton John, and Meryl Streep make their way down the red carpet.
Party host and Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter told reporters last night that he wanted to create a glamorous but cozy party this year, and he achieved the latter with a whittled-down guest list of 650—compared with 1,150 in 2007—in a venue known for its striking views and old-Hollywood cache, but lack of event space. Carter had announced back in November that the party would be pared down, saying, “We’ll celebrate Hollywood’s big night the way we did when we first threw the party 15 years ago—it will be a cozier, more understated event.” (That said, Cityfile noted on Friday that an event permit filed by the mag in West Hollywood listed the head count at 1,000 guests.)
The evening kicked off at 5 p.m. with an intimate viewing dinner for 150, where Sunset Tower’s Janice Alexander and Waverly Inn’s John DeLucie served a menu of New York strip steak, chicken potpie, wild mushroom risotto, and bananas Foster. Surrounded by flat-screen TVs, the circular dining tables were simple, with tight bunches of pink, orange, and yellow rose centerpieces from Chris Brock and tiny Oscar statues accenting each table setting.
Vanity Fair director of special projects Sara Marks framed the driveway and entrance to the party with backlit images from the “Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs From 1913-2008” exhibit at Lacma. As in year’s past, the red carpet had grassy accents, among them Oscar-shaped hedges and the Vanity Fair logo encased in greenery. Lighting too played a big role, with logoed gobos and blue and white lights uplighting the hotel.
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