Oscar Party Preview: 'Vanity Fair,' Elton John, the Governors Ball, Newcomer 'Maxim,' and More

By Alesandra Dubin February 21, 2012, 8:30 AM EST

The Elton John AIDS Foundation fund-raiser will move from the Pacific Design Center to West Hollywood Park this year.

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/

The 84th annual Academy Awards on Sunday will bring on their heels a whirlwind of related parties, suites, and other events, big and small. But on the big night this year, don't expect a major shake up to the importance of the top three major events—the Governors Ball hosted by the academy, Vanity Fair's viewing bash, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation fund-raiser—which will be back on the scene commanding their typical A-list guest attendance and frenzy of media attention (albeit with some format and venue changes). Afterward, however, newcomer Maxim will attempt to claim ownership of the late-night spot.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation viewing bash will take to a new venue this year: the redesigned West Hollywood Park. The guest count will balloon to 890 from last year's 750, with the dinner catered for the eighth year by Crumble Catering. Given that the city of West Hollywood hasn't even opened the park yet, it stopped construction in order to keep the prestigious party within the city limits after its move from the Pacific Design Center. Chopard, Neuro, and Wells Fargo will sponsor, and Foster the People will perform. Production comes from V Productions.

The academy's Governors Ball will draw 1,500 guests after the show to the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center with production by Sequoia Productions led by Cheryl Cecchetto, and a retooled experience she said is meant to “energize” the room: Guests will dine on more than 50 mostly tray-passed dishes from Wolfgang Puck, instead of the typical sit-down dinner.

Rounding out the night's biggest-ticket attractions is perhaps the hottest ticket of them all: Vanity Fair's party will take to the Sunset Tower Hotel, as it has in recent years. (In addition to its Oscar-night party, the mag is back with the 13th installment of “Campaign Hollywood,” its annual weeklong celebration leading up to the awards, co-sponsored by advertisers including Chrysler and L’Oréal Paris.)

After those events wrap on the big night, a newcomer to the scene will just be getting started: Maxim, which has had an Oscar presence in the past, but not in recent years, will kick off a late-night party for more than 500 guests beginning at 11 p.m. at an as-yet undisclosed location. The event's producer, Visionary Group, said the newcomer is intended as the last stop on the night's party circuit, with drinking, dancing, and eating (the event includes a wee-hours breakfast) until 4 a.m.—in a town not known for its late-night revelry. Ford is the title sponsor.

Also among the brands expanding their presences: Montblanc, which typically hosts the Weinstein Company party, will make a bigger mark with a champagne brunch on Saturday at the Hotel Bel-Air, and a lounge for stylists this week at the Beverly Wilshire.

Throughout the week, a slate of other big events will also return. Among the more notable are Global Green U.S.A.’s ninth annual pre-Oscar party with auto sponsor Chevy Volt, coming to Avalon Hollywood on Wednesday. Essence will host its fifth annual “Black Women in Hollywood” luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday. Also Thursday, QVC’s “The Buzz on the Red Carpet” event will return to the Four Seasons with production by SPEC Entertainment, the US-Ireland Alliance will dole out its awards at JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot, and Hollywood Domino will host its fifth annual gala on Thursday at the Sunset Tower with a “Tango in Paris” theme.

On awards night, the 22nd annual “Night of 100 Stars” black-tie viewing dinner, produced by veteran music agent Norby Walters, will return to the Beverly Hills Hotel's Crystal Ballroom. And Mercedes-Benz will be back at Soho House for its viewing party.

At the Oscar show itself, Architectural Digest will work with interior designer Waldo Fernandez to create its signature greenroom. It will be the 10th consecutive year the magazine will produce the backstage lounge for presenters and honorees. Among the hosts of the many gift suites around town are GBK, which will take to the W Hollywood on Friday and Saturday, and the Humane Society of the United States and Secret Room Events, which will host their “Red Carpet Luxury Lounge” at L'Ermitage rooftop on Wednesday, with major vacation packages to the likes of the Maldives and Fiji on offer.

While the Oscar events blanket venues all over Los Angeles, Film Independent's Spirit Awards will more quietly claim their annual presence on Oscar weekend. Seth Rogen will host the more relaxed tented, beachside show in Santa Monica on Saturday. The event will bring the an official talent gift lounge from On 3 Productions.

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