TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Studios say Oscar night party monopoly is abit Vanity Un-Fair

There is something a bit peculiar about the upcoming Academy

Awards.



The usual Oscar night bashes thrown by studios with films in competition

are noticeably absent. Some are having no parties at all, others are

throwing them the night before. The night before? How can you celebrate

an event that hasn't happened?



Why are the studios suddenly absenting themselves from hosting

festivities on the Hollywood's biggest night of the year? Two words:

Vanity Fair.



The lifestyle magazine, which has become perhaps the most important such

publication to Tinseltown over the past few years, also hosts the

biggest Oscar night bash in town. It is, in the words of a studio

publicist, 'the 800-pound gorilla.' It has essentially become such a

dominant presence on the night's party circuit that it has become

'Vanity Scare,' frightening most everyone else away. Except Elton John,

of course, who still holds his own with his annual charity event.



Everyone is so intent on making the Vanity Fair party, held at Morton's,

that in years past many have attended their studio's party out of a

sense of obligation, but with a mind to skip out at the earliest polite

moment.



'It seems like some stars have had their eyes on the clock at the other

parties,' a publicist at one of the studios with a Best

Picture-nominated film told me. 'The attitude seems to be, 'Yes, this is

very nice, but when can I go to the real party?''



Even parties thrown by Universal and DreamWorks, with some 32 combined

nominations, including Best Picture favorite Gladiator, have moved to

Saturday. DreamWorks' party will be held at Spago, while Universal's

will be at El Cielo. In fact, the activity on Saturday will be so hot

that one studio, MGM, has even moved its party to Friday.



In addition to the shadow of Vanity Fair's party, the other reason for

the shift to Saturday concerns the thrill of victory and agony of

defeat.



It's more fun to host stars still hopeful of winning than ones who have

just lost. The day before everyone is giddy, optimistic, glowing. On

Sunday night, depending on the outcome, it's a bit awkward for some of

the nominees to attend studio 'victory' parties when they didn't bring

home the bacon.



Sony Studios is standing tough, however. They will be hosting a party on

Sunday, the lone studio survivor of 'Vanity Scare.' Their soiree will be

at the trendy new restaurant Crustacean. Should they wind up

empty-handed, they'll be serving crow.



And speaking of Vanity Fair, PR people may be interested to see that the

powerhouse publicity firm PMK is highlighted in April's 'Hollywood'

issue. Might enhance the magazine's access to PMK's retinue of stars,

which includes Tom Cruise, just named the most powerful figure in

entertainment.



His publicist may not be far behind.



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