TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Publicists pitch persistently to procurepost-Oscar party place

Spring is a very busy season for Hollywood publicists. We're diligently writing bios, embellishing our clients' notable achievements, and pitching them harder than Nolan Ryan. No stone is left unturned. If our calls are ignored, we call again, making a complete nuisance of ourselves. Persistence is the motto.

Spring is a very busy season for Hollywood publicists. We're diligently writing bios, embellishing our clients' notable achievements, and pitching them harder than Nolan Ryan. No stone is left unturned. If our calls are ignored, we call again, making a complete nuisance of ourselves. Persistence is the motto.

And what motivates all this effort? A spot on a popular TV talk show?

A cover story in major entertainment magazine? A feature story in Time?

Hardly. The main goal this time of year is something more precious still: an invite to a fashionable post-Oscar party.

Oh yes. Guest lists for these soirees are drawn up like a strategic battle plan. Who's in, who's out. Who has more celebrity weight, and who can generate the most media heat. The A-list stars are obvious. The real scrutiny comes in selecting stars who are on the bubble. Let's see ... this young actor, though not a household name, grossed $45 million on his last two pictures. He is also having a not-so-secretive affair with a married starlet.

Perfect. Meanwhile, this older actor's stock, alas, is waning. Once a strong B-plusser, he's slipped to C status. Perhaps his usual coveted table spot might be better utilized by that up-and-comer from Six Feet Under.

Heavy-hitter publicists go to bat for their clients early in the year, enclosing suggestions in Christmas or Hanukkah cards: "Here's some fruitcake.

How about including Dirk Dirkson in your Oscar party plans this year?"

Sometimes publicists are forced to pitch, by client mandate, party applicants who really don't stand a chance. Still, the effort must be made if you want to be paid. So, one boldly strikes forth with a hopeful pitch. Deep breath. Here goes:

"What makes a good party perfect? The effervescent presence of Tiffany Dawn Amber. This lovely and talented 20-year-old model-actress - who can currently be seen in a recurring role as "Brittany

on the WB teen series Are You Actually Watching This? - is a welcome addition to any guest list.

She attended (for three weeks, until landing a regional toothpaste ad and heading to Hollywood) the University of Missouri as a broadcasting major (you know, to study being a weather girl) before she was discovered (no comment) by a Hollywood casting agent while having her car detailed at Otto's Auto Wash at the corner of Melrose and Vine.

Sorry. Maybe next year - if she lands a CNN gig.

Of course, being a past Oscar winner helps anyone's chances, but it's no guarantee. Who even remembers who won 15 years ago? Fifteen minutes ago?

I'm working on a film now starring a young actor who, considered a fair bet to win an Oscar this year, juggled his hectic shooting schedule to attend.

He didn't win. Or maybe he did: He was admitted to the Vanity Fair party.

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