By Jenny Peters
It isn’t easy being a big star during Oscar Week, the days leading up to the big Academy Awards show. Seriously. There are so many parties to juggle that the top names in Hollywood literally need a scorecard, an assistant and a driver to help plan out their stops on any given night.
Take Thursday, February 25, for example. We happily headed out to the 11th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” director J. J. Abrams’ offices in Santa Monica, the famed Bad Robot Productions digs. That’s always a great celebration, put on by the US-Ireland Alliance to help remind Hollywood of the terrific Irish talent available both here in America and across the pond. Abrams was recognized by the organization a few years as an honorary Irishman, which he revealed had played into the fact that he shot the final scene of “The Force Awakens” at Skellig Michael on Ireland’s western coast.
Abrams hosted the festivities, which happened mostly on the jam-packed rooftop of Bad Robot, as the group honored Irish actress Sarah Greene of “Penny Dreadful” fame, along with Irish band Snow Patrol, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson (a 2016 Oscar nominee for “Room”), part-Irish actress Daisy Ridley, who was charmingly nervous as she thanked Abrams for casting her in “The Force Awakens” and “changing my life completely,” and Brit James Corden, the “Late Late Show” host, who took home the prize as this year’s honorary Irishman.
And typical of Oscar Week parties, the star wattage was blinding at the bash. Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw turned out, as did handsome Idris Elba, John Cho and Karl Urban and female favorites like Joanne Froggatt from “Downton Abbey” and Aisha Tyler. As everyone tucked in Irish food and pints of Guinness, Snow Patrol played a lively set with Corden sitting in for a song.
Meanwhile, over at Chateau Marmot, Cadillac (the official vehicle sponsor of the Academy Awards) threw its first Oscar bash and the crowd really formed. Joanne Froggatt made her way there from Santa Monica to Sunset and joined two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz for the festivities.
As fashionably dressed stars ranging from Kate Walsh and Allison Janney to Kelly Rowland and Samantha Barks rubbed shoulders with our favorite “Modern Family” guys – Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and the genius creator of the show Steve Levitan, the party really got hot. And while there was plenty of dancing and drinking at the bash, it was no problem since most of the celebs were chauffeured home in Cadillac’s latest 2016 CT6, a full-size luxury sedan.
Even that wasn’t it for Thursday night, as the UNITE4:GOOD and Variety’s 3rd Annual “UNITE4:HUMANITY” Event Presented by Karma (quite the mouthful, that one) held their gala at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Honoring heavy hitters like Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Seth Rogen, Gina Rodriguez and Olivia Wilde, the gala celebrates those in Hollywood who use their fame and fortune for the good of others. There was music from DNCE and Mali Music and plenty of conviviality, helped along by sponsor Ketel One Vodka; happily, no one was driving a Karma after drinking, as that automotive company launches its first made-in-California luxury hybrid later in 2016.
Friday night brought another round of fun all over town, including the annual Women in Film pre-Oscar bash and the Vanity Fair Young Hollywood party hosted by Hailee Steinfeld. But our favorite was the annual Film is GREAT Reception that honors the British Academy Award nominees.
Famous faces like host and Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne rolled into the Fig& Olive restaurant via sleek Bentley rides (one of the event’s sponsors) and nominated talents above and below the line were everywhere we turned during that lively celebration, which was highlighted by Chef Gordon Ramsay’s menu of British-style bites.
Of course, just listening to everyone’s accents swirl into the ether was enough for us to be in heaven; and it didn’t hurt that some the people doing the talking were Sir Patrick Stewart, Naomi Campbell, Minnie Driver and even James Bond (actually George Lazenby, who starred as the suave spy in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” way back in 1969).
Also negotiating the massive crowd were eventual Best Actress winner Alicia Vikander, Joan Collins, Cat Deeley, Nigel Lythgoe and some of the nonstop partiers we kept spotting everywhere, as Idris Elba, Joanne Froggatt and James Corden (who acted as the night’s emcee) were on hand here too, not surprisingly, as they all happen to be from the U.K. Singer Jamie Cullum entertained the enchanted onlookers and by the time all was said and done just about everyone agreed that the Brits really do put on one of the best pre-Oscar parties in town.