Feb 7, 2008

Vanity Fair Cancels Its Oscars Party

Imagine a wedding reception without food, music or Champagne, and you get an inkling of how a lot of Hollywood would view the Oscars without the Vanity Fair party. But Hollywood will no longer have to imagine it — the party is off.

In sympathy with striking writers, Vanity Fair on Tuesday canceled its annual multimillion-dollar must-attend party. There are other parties, but this is the one Oscar-related trapping that has come to rival the main event for a cast of above-the-title stars, assorted billionaires and several hundred of their closest friends.

The editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, said on Tuesday that canceling was the right thing to do, whether or not there was a breakthrough in talks between the Writers Guild of America and production companies before the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 24.

“A magazine like Vanity Fair is a group of writers and artists, and we are in solidarity with the writers and artists out there,” Mr. Carter said. “Whether the strike is over or not, there are a lot of bruised feelings. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a big magazine from the East to come in and pretend nothing happened.”

He added, “There will be something sort of liberating about ordering Chinese food and watching the Oscars in bed.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has pledged that the Oscars will go on, and it has asked the writers not to picket given recent progress in contract talks.

But the guild insists that it will picket, and many stars are expected to skip the event rather than cross a picket line.

Vanity Fair’s invitation-only party — it would have been the 15th — was to begin with dinner for 170 people during the ceremony at Craft restaurant in Century City, Mr. Carter said, and continue into the early morning with 650 to 700 people.

Someone cruising through last year’s party could have seen Oprah Winfrey chatting with John Travolta, Ellen DeGeneres with Sacha Baron Cohen, or Martin Scorsese with John Singleton.

For the stars, arrival at the party offers the second red carpet walk of the day, complete with cameras. Many women change gowns between the Oscars and the party.

“The Vanity Fair party is the crown jewel,” said Leslee Dart, the publicist, who has several clients up for awards. “It’s the party everybody wants to go to. At 1 and 2 in the morning, it’s still going on strong. I started getting calls a month ago from people saying, ‘Can you help me get into the Vanity Fair Party?’ ”

At the annual lunch for nominees in Beverly Hills on Monday, Sidney Ganis, the academy’s president, urged the group — including the actors George Clooney, Viggo Mortensen and Laura Linney — to show up and claim their awards. He joked that official certificates of nomination would carry the legend “Must be present to win.”

Even if the sides continue to move toward a settlement of the three-month-old strike, it appeared unlikely that the walkout would end before the middle of next week. That leaves academy officials planning for alternatives — one with a full complement of nominees, one without.

Michael Cieply contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com

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