Events / Insights

Dispatch: Summer's Leading Ladies

Jeffrey Slonim reports from the red carpet at Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York and Meryl Streep’s Hope Springs.

August 17, 2012

Steve Carrell, Meryl Streep, and Tommy Lee Jones at the premiere of Hope Springs

The trailer for Hope Springs doesn’t do the film justice. True, no one wants to know about their parents’ sex lives. Hence, when young people see Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep headed to a sexy hotel suite in Hope Springs, they cringe. But if you’re married or your parents are still together, there are enough painful truths in this film that you may find it informative.    

“We just sat around and chatted together like a couple of broads,” said Mimi Rogers, Tom Cruise's other ex-wife, who plays Streep’s hot neighbor in the picture. What did they talk about? “Her daughter and marriages and my daughter and colleges. There is a quality about Meryl, a joyful essence . . . she’s a once-in-a-lifetime gal.”    

Well, kindness with her costar didn’t end up corresponding to face time for Dispatches with Streep. On the red carpet, the great lady zipped by all print media, wearing a belted red dress and glasses, with her blonde hair pulled back. Maybe she didn’t want to discuss blowing a banana, which she does in the film. And Tommy Lee Jones, Al Gore’s roommate at Harvard, pulled the same stunt—skipping the press, that is.       

But costars still spoke highly of Streep. “She casts a spell over everybody,” said Patch Darragh, who plays her son-in-law in the film. “I arrived and she said, 'You’re my boy!'”   

Onscreen, Jones and Streep play a couple who, for years, have slept in separate bedrooms. So even if your marriage is currently stellar, Dispatches found viewing the pitfalls that could lie ahead instructive. And it may help you to get your head around your parents' ho-hum relationship.

Alex Nahon, Julie Delpy, Owen Shipman, Chris Rock, Alexia Landeau, and Talen Riley at a screening of 2 Days in New York

At The Cinema Society and Magnolia Pictures screening of Julie Delpy’s film 2 Days in New York, also starring Chris Rock, Delpy wore a dark red off-the-shoulder gown from Not by Jenny Lang. Apparently, her nonslip bra was “slipping.” That’s what she said.      

In general, French actresses aren’t warm. They’re suspicious of journalists and too elegant to lighten up in public. But Delpy, who co-wrote this film, is kooky-funny. In the script, she’s living with Chris Rock when her nutty French family comes to visit. Her character's sister, who also comes to stay, is a nymphomaniac who's dating her ex-boyfriend. And her onscreen dad walks around in a tiny towel with his buns hanging out. It’s a rare view of the French making fun of themselves.   

Rock is terrific, but Delpy kind of steals the film. And her real-life rotund father, a famed French actor (who played Claude Monet in Clemenceau), also plays her dad onscreen. One can see where she gets all the personality; he shows everything but his junk.  

More sightings: On Thursday last week, Jay-Z and Beyoncé cheered on fellow Brooklynite Talib Kweli as he DJ’d at Jbird in Times Square for the "$uprecapitalist" wrap party. Swizz Beatz was also in the house. Meanwhile, actor Lou Diamond Phillips and family enjoyed the rib sampler and country-fried steak at Neely’s Barbecue Parlor.  

At Stanton Social Mondays, DJ Samantha Ronson celebrated her 35th birthday. Justin Bieber protégé Carly Rae Jepsen, also at Stanton Social, tucked into lamb souvlaki, pierogis, and red snapper tacos. And Good Charlotte frontman Benji Madden rocked that fête until the wee hours.

For more entertainment and society news, visit or follow @JeffreyJSlo on Twitter



Dispatch: Summer Film Fêtes

Lincoln and vampires, Woody Allen and Rome, and a waltz in Canada with Michelle Williams.

June 27, 2012

FROM LEFT: Mamie Gummer and Benjamin Walker; Tim Burton at the premiere of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at Lincoln Square
In the summer, when the streets of Manhattan feel as if they’re on fire, New Yorkers flock to crisply air-conditioned theaters. In time with the heatwave, debuts of summer films swept the Big Apple last week. On Monday, the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter premiere drew hoards of ashen oglers to AMC Loews Lincoln Square.

Writer Seth Grahame-Smith looked as if he could be any yuppie, but he was the enormously successful author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before he wrote the book and screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And in his spare time he penned the script for Dark Shadows. Seeing bookstores with piles Twilight books and enormous displays for Abraham Lincoln bios but “none about both” gave Grahame-Smith the idea for the film. So he co-opted America's great populist as a vampire-slaying superhero with a silver-tipped ax.

“I just heard the title,” said Lincoln producer Tim Burton, "and I wanted to see the movie. It was the kind of film I would have gone to see a double or triple feature of in Times Square. “I remembered seeing images of Lincoln as a child and being taken by his haunting, complex quality. It seemed to make sense that he’d be hunting vampires at night.”   

Jon Hamm, Hilaria Thomas, Jennifer Westfeldt, Scott Adsit, and Alec Baldwin at the premiere of To Rome with Love

To Rome with Love
And on Wednesday, Woody Allen debuted To Rome with Love, his wet smooch to The Eternal City. There are four tales. Alec Baldwin plays a famous architect who goes back to his old stomping grounds and meets Jesse Eisenberg, who plays a young architect living in Baldwin’s old neighborhood. Roberto Benigni plays a middle-class family man who wakes up one day famous for being famous. Fabio Armiliato, the great tenor, plays a mortician who can only sing in the shower but is brought to the stage by his son’s would-be father-in-law, played by Woody Allen. And, playing a wife from the provinces, Italian actress Alessandra Mastronardi has an encounter her favorite Italian star in Rome while her husband cavorts with Penélope Cruz, playing a hooker.       

The Disaronno-fueled afterfête took place in the burning hot Lever House garden; for air, everyone moved into the restaurant. Fabio Armiliato mentioned that he does sing in the shower. “I practice in the shower. ”But is he better in the shower? “Um, no.”   

Michelle Williams and Luke Kirby at the premiere of Take This Waltz

Take This Waltz
At Thursday’s debut of Take This Waltz, Michelle Williams wore a black dress by Joseph Altuzarra that laced up the front with a necklace by Forevermark.    

“It’s a little sexier than what I usually go for,” Williams told Dispatches of the dress. In the film, married to a lunk played by Seth Rogen, Williams meets her hot neighbor (Luke Kirby) on a trip and drama ensues. Sarah Silverman does a great job as the alcoholic sister-in-law. And, if you care, there is a seriously nude shower scene with Silverman and Williams.    

Jason Segel, Williams' real-life beau, showed up at Sons of Essex for the afterparty. What a talented pair.    

Meanwhile, Katlean de Monchy hosted a Bloggerini party on the roof of The Sports Club/LA on the Upper East Side, where "Real Housewife" Ramona Singer mentioned that she’s coming out with a red wine (on the show) and that she and Aviva Drescher began as BFFs but the relationship has soured (surprise).

At the Serafina-catered Carrera 6000 Summer Solstice bash, Erin Heatherton, allegedly dating Leonardo DiCaprio, refused to be photographed with Adrian Grenier, who, by the way, intimated that a movie version of Entourage is in the works. Fun.

photography by Jim Spellman (Gummer); Jason Kempin (Williams); Larry Busacca (Hamm)


Dispatch: Cannes, a Salute to Betty White, and TV Upfronts

From sunny Mediterranean vistas and film fêtes to the Friars Club roast of a comedic treasure.

May 21, 2012

FROM LEFT: Astrid Munoz and Lara Stone; Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, and Ludivine Sagnier at the IFP Euphoria Calvin Klein party

Cannes, France
Thursday, Calvin Klein invited Dispatches to the sumptuous Villa St. Georges for the IFP Euphoria Calvin Klein fête, celebrating Women in Film at the Cannes Film Festival. Ten minutes from the Croisette, the dreamy Belle Epoque mansion on Avenue Roi Albert features a curved stone staircase with balustrades that sweeps up to the property. The pool has one serpentine edge and craggy olive trees at the far end; verdant gardens with palms overlook the bay.

The famous beauties in attendance, dressed by Klein, looked like color-coordinated art pastels. Shailene Woodley wore peach; Jessica Chastain had on a shorter pink number; Naomi Watts’ tan dress pooled an inch or two on the carpet; and Diane Kruger had her girls pushed way up in a sparkling, ankle-length pink gown.

And the buttons on Joshua Jackson’s shirt looked as if they might pop. “I don’t want to bust out," he quipped as Kruger pulled his jacket shut.

“It’s the most beautiful place,” said Naomi Watts of Cannes. “We just arrived and had a Bellini on the terrace,” she continued. “I met my darling Liev while wearing Calvin Klein.”

“I play a jaguar in Madagascar 3,” mentioned Jessica Chastain, her red hair pulled back tight, "and I’m also in Lawless. You hear about this festival your whole life.”

By the pool, tall, thin gas-burning pyramids warmed the air, and fuchsia flower petals floated on the water. Dispatches also spotted Ben Stiller and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Just in from Portofino was Euphoria model Lara Stone, with her husband, David Williams, the tall Swiss dude with bright blue eyes from Dinner with Schmucks.

Saturday, a hirsute Shia LaBeouf took his mom to the Lawless party, hosted by Harvey Weinstein and Johnnie Walker Blue Label at Cannes’ Baoli Beach. Chastain had her hair down and wore a gold sequined chiffon number.

FROM LEFT: Jennifer Connelly and Dustin Lance Black at a screening of Virginia; Betty White and Uggie the dog at the White's Friars Club roast 

Virginia Screening, TV Upfronts, and the Friars Club Roast of Betty White
Back in New York, at the Cinema Society fête for Virginia, starring Jennifer Connelly, Jane Lynch said she was in town for the Fox Upfronts. Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes was holding hands with Juliette Lewis. She said that he was on tour and that they were thrilled that he got to take a break. “I enjoyed being brain-fucked for an hour and a half,” McCoy said of Virginia. “And I mean that in the best way possible.”

On Tuesday, The Gersh agency celebrated the TV Upfronts at Lilium, a dimly lit bar off Park Avenue South. I must have arrived early, because Kyle MacLachlan and I both said we were the only ones we knew at the whole party. Nice guy. My friend Liz Durand Streisand from UsWeekly was with her husband, who is apparently related to Barbara, but both MacLachlan and I thought he looked exactly like Matt Damon.

At the Friars Club roast for Betty White on Wednesday at the Sheridan, White told Dispatches: “I’m just going to listen and try to be a lady . . . I said try!” Gilbert Gottfried turned up the heat on the red carpet, saying that he and White do it, "she’s in an orthopedic bed with an IV attached . . . if she were 50 years younger, she’d be 1,000!”

At the USA Network Upfronts on Thursday, WWE wrestler CM Punk claimed that he doesn’t know how to tie a tie. I had recently caught Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals) in Same Time, Next Year, and then there she was walking the carpet. She said she had her dog with her in the car. Love that. And Carla Gugino (Political Animals) claimed that she punked her publicist by saying that she had her dog and that he needed a bone and water. 



Dispatch: Canines, Christie's, and Cartier

Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline debut Darling Companion, Jay-Z and Beyoncé boogie down, and more from last week’s parties.

April 17, 2012

Kasey the dog with Kevin Kline

Darling Companion
Thanks to Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier from The Artist, dogs walking the red carpet are apparently in. Kasey, a fluffy pooch that had a bite, I mean, bit part in The Lincoln Lawyer walked the soft pile at the Cinema Society debut of Darling Companion at the Tribeca Grand Hotel on Monday. Upbeat Sarah Cole—who lives with Kasey and seven other working dogs—was his speaking escort. “He just had a bath and a blow-dry at the Regency in our hotel room,” said Cole.     

In the film, Kasey plays a rescued dog that runs away from his owners, played by Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline, while Kline is talking on a cell phone. (This actually happened to director Larry Kasdan, who wrote The Big Chill). In order to find Kasey, Keaton and Kline must traipse through the mountains of Colorado. If you’re married or have a dog, the story will likely hit home.  

Meanwhile, Kline claimed that picking up his pooch’s poop in Manhattan doesn’t bother him. “You put your hand in the little blue sack, so you never actually have to touch it.”

At New Yorkers For Children, from left: Linda Fargo and Alina Cho; Crystal Renn and Coco Rocha

New Yorkers For Children Spring Dance    
There were no dogs at the New Yorkers For Children Spring Dance on Tuesday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. CNN's Alina Cho had on a seriously fluffy ball gown by CD Greene, who sponsored the event. Cho and a friend appeared stricken when a bejeweled earring went missing, possibly in her dress. Everyone nearby was asked to freeze.
Victoria's Secret model Lindsay Ellingson wore Cushnie et Ochs and was sandwiched by designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs. “The cause is amazing,” Ellingson said of the charity, which improves the lives of some 15,000 New York kids in foster care.  

A wall of tall picture windows displayed spring in Central Park and branches covered with blooms decorated long, skinny tables. This spring dinner dance always attracts a tall, thin, and attractive guest list.   

Christie’s Bid To Save The Earth
On Wednesday, Christie's and JW Marriott hosted Bid To Save The Earth: A Green Auction. Bronson van Wyck festooned the green carpet with a panel of driftwood and lush flora that gave a forested backdrop for swells like David Rockefeller Jr. arriving to bid on green auction packages.      

Aviva Drescher, a new star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York, who is apparently far richer than previous housewives, noted her green routine. “We use products that are not made from trees,” she said. “All of our cleaning products are organic. I don’t even use hairspray with aerosol.”  

At Juste un Clou, from left: Olivier Theyskens, Chanel Iman, and Karlie Kloss; Rita Ora

Juste un Clou by Cartier
On Thursday, Cartier touted its ’70s collaboration with Aldo Cipullo, who designed the famed Cartier Love Bracelet in 1969, while celebrating its newest collection, Juste un Clou (“Just a Nail”), inspired a Cipullo range of gold jewelry designed to look like hardware store nails.   

“He was shy but fabulous,” said CeCe Kieselstein-Cord of Cipullo, who died in 1984. "His Love Bracelet is one of the greatest pieces of all time. We were all at Studio 54 together in the good old days.”   

Lily Collins wore a nail ring as she manipulated pictures of Elizabeth Taylor and Aldo on an HP wall of interactive screens at the exhibition upstairs.    

To end the night, Cartier recreated a 1970s nightclub at a photo studio downtown—a nod to Aldo and the ’70s (sniff, sniff). New parents Jay-Z and Beyoncé stopped by to boogie and support performer Rita Ora (signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation), who covered Destiny's Child hit "Say My Name" during her set.  

—Jeffrey Slonim


Dispatch: Damsels in Distress and Girls

From Damsels to Girls to Streep onstage, last week belonged to the ladies.

April 09, 2012

Adam Brody, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig, Whit Stillman, Carrie MacLemore, Analeigh Tipiton, and Billy Magnussen

Damsels in Distress
Busy week last week. Nineties-era indie filmmaker Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona), one of Dispatches' favorite directors, returned from a decade-long hiatus on Monday with the debut of Damsels in Distress, a wacky tale that takes place at Seven Oaks, a nondescript East Coast college in the process of going co-ed.   
Town and Country magazine sponsored the premiere. And Stillman mentioned that the film lampoons Harvard. The alarmingly casual use of behemoth SAT words by Greta Gerwig’s character, Violet, is the giveaway. "I suffered under the grim pre-Damsels period," Stillman informed Dispatches, speaking of his all-guy Harvard days.

"Harvard had a Damsels period after my time. I went back, and everyone was really amused with these girls who wore strong French perfume and changed the social life.”
The air conditioning in the screening room was out and the squirm factor was high in what felt like an unedited John Waters feature written in Stillman-speak. Still, Gerwig was enthusiastic. "It was my favorite character that I've played to date," she told Dispatches. "[Violet’s] so crazy and big-hearted and wild and contradictory."                

Damsels introduces a new generation to Stillman. Adam Brody, who plays Charlie Walker, a player, said Barcelona is his favorite Stillman flick. "Whit writes highly literate dialog," he said.    

If you're a Whit-lover, Damsels is a must, but throw back a few cocktails first.           

Sting, Sir Elton John, Trudie Styler, and Tom Hanks at Rock the Rainforest

The Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund
Tuesday's Revlon-sponsored Rainforest Fund biennial concert at Carnegie Hall was followed by an elegant dinner at The Pierre. Fund founder Trudie Styler wore a white dress by Pucci, and James Taylor indicated that Styler is the queen bee. "Trudie rules things with an iron fist," he said. "It's her baby."

At Carnegie Hall, Bruno Mars, Sir Elton John, Rita Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, and even Meryl Streep sang. Tom Hanks, who showed up at the dinner with Wilson, told Dispatches he’d never been to Carnegie Hall. "It was fabulous," he said. "I can’t stop smiling," added Wilson. "Jennifer Hudson is so insanely, once-in-a-lifetime talented."

"Bruno Mars is a real, lasting talent," said John. "And I didn't know Channing Tatum [also onstage] could dance.”               

Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke, Lena Dunham, and Allison Williams

Finally, on Wednesday, HBO premiered its new series Girls, written and directed by Lena Dunham. Judd Apatow, who produces Girls, had never heard of Dunham until he saw her Brooklyn-shot feature Tiny Furniture at Sundance. "I didn't know the actress in the movie wrote it and directed it. And I looked at the credits and said, 'Oh! She did everything, and it cost $45,000!'"     

Girls is a Sex and the City for the job-free generation: less fashion, more ho-hum sex. The female stars are, for the most part, the daughters of well-known fathers. "My father has yet to see it," said Zosia Mamet, daughter of playwright and filmmaker David Mamet. "But he will be tuning in on Sunday." (Most will recognize Zosia from Mad Men. She currently plays Joyce Ramsay, Life magazine photo editor and gal pal of Peggy Olson.)      

"I was a little bit nervous about the more intimate scenes," mentioned Allison Williams, daughter of NBC newsman Brian Williams, who gets horizontal on camera. "But he handled it like a pro,” she said. “He’s really happy for me."

—Jeffrey Slonim
photographs by Dimitrios Kambouris (Damsels, Girls); Kevin Mazur (Rock the Rainforest)


Dispatch: Detachment Premiere and Afterparty

A star is born at the Bingo Gubelmann-produced film screening.

March 15, 2012

Sami Gayle  

Dispatches met 16-year-old Sami Gayle of CBS’s Blue Bloods during fall fashion week. She is the opposite of the rest of the stars on a red carpet: A breath of fresh air, thankful, and full of youth. To meet her is to instantly have your heart won over.      

I was thrilled to see her acting opposite Adrien Brody in a screening of Detachment hosted by American Express, The Cinema Society, and the Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday. Gayle plays a young prostitute that Brody, an emotionally broken shell of a substitute schoolteacher, takes in and tries to save.      

The movie meanders in an arty fashion but has power. When the lens wanders, the imagery is lyrical. And, frankly, Dispatches could watch Brody read a phone book—the man is like a walking Modigliani portrait.       

Gayle’s research to play a prostitute? “I watched Pretty Woman and Taxi Driver,” she said. “There is not that much you can see at 14 [her age when the film was shot]. So I really attribute [my performance] to Adrien, who guided me. It was challenging, gritty, rough, and very scary. And Adrien was such a mentor.”    

One sensational scene takes place with Brody’s onscreen grandfather at a hospital. Art apparently imitated life that evening. “My grandma actually had some health issues tonight,” said Gayle. “She’s in the hospital. It’s been a rough day. She wishes she could be here. And I wish that she could be here. But she’s going to be fine . . . everything will be okay.”     

Brody, a phone-it-in downtown style icon, walked the red carpet in a black skinny tie, tie clip, dark Dolce & Gabbana spring/summer 2012 collection suit (Euro size 48), facial scruff, and long, slicked back jet hair.    

When I mentioned that Gayle had brought up Taxi Driver, Brody nodded. “It’s funny. I felt that dynamic between her character and mine, similar [to the one] between De Niro and Jodie Foster. [Gayle] is fresh and fearless and extremely intelligent for a young girl—she has emotional depth, good intuition.”     

Dispatches caught up with the film’s coproducer Bingo Gubelmann, social Marjorie Gubelmann’s cousin, at The Standard Hotel afterfête. “We shot at an empty school on Mineola,” he said. “Sami is dope, gorgeous. They were fantastic together!” said Gubelmann.     

Yet another breakout actress in the film was the director Tony Kaye's daughter, Betty Kaye, whose character is a suicidal student photographer who bakes a mean cupcake. Just before the film rolled, Tony sweetly broke down a bit when speaking about his daughter’s performance.       

“All of my scenes are with Adrien,” Kaye told Dispatches. “I love him. He’s a really supportive actor. It was an amazing experience.” Kaye is currently studying photography in London.     

The film, which also stars Lucy Liu, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Christina Hendricks, breaks into poetic, apocalyptic scenes toward the end with leaves blowing through an empty school. Only Brody, reciting verse, could carry the disjointed imagery.       

“He carries the movie in such an impactful way,” mentioned Liu on her way into the theater.         

On whether the art film was a stretch for Paper Street Films, Gubelmann’s young production company with Stark Carpet heir Austin Stark, Benji Kohn, and Chris Papavasiliou, Gubelmann commented, “It’s good, because we get to show range. It’s good to take risks.”

—Jeffrey Slonim


Oscar Week Dispatch: Women in Film Cocktail Party

Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a pre-Oscar toast for Hollywood’s leading women, and young ladies.

February 29, 2012

Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner

Closing off Hollywood Boulevard to build the behemoth red carpet for the Academy Awards doesn't help traffic during Tinseltown’s biggest week. The stars have to wake up pretty early in the morning if they want to dodge the delays, get their hair blown out, and make it to their fêtes on time.

Friday before the Oscars, Dispatches set out early and managed to catch the Women in Film pre-Oscar cocktail party, hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow at Cecconi's (formerly known as Mortons) in West Hollywood. 

  Shailene Woodley

The restaurant used to serve steak and had big art by Ed Ruscha, and it was the home of the Vanity Fair Oscar afterparty for years. The present incarnation has marble floors and a wood-burning oven. Homey chichi.

Paltrow's mother, Blythe Danner had on a crushed velvet number designed by Hanna Hartnell, who is a family friend. Danner wore keepsake jewels that her late husband, Bruce Paltrow, had bought her from Georg Jensen. "I thought I'd beat the traffic," she said of her schlep from Santa Monica. "I told Gwyneth not to come that way."

Apparently, Paltrow is second cousins with former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, joined them. Danner took Kelly by the arm and spent the evening with him, showing him around the dinner party like one should do for an out-of-towner. As she left a little early, she asked a tony reporter from Glamour magazine to continue taking Kelly around.  

The Help’s Viola Davis, wore a purple wrap dress by Max Mara, who co-sponsored the event along with Perrier-Jouët and M.A.C. Davis brought her sister Delores, who sounds remarkably like Viola when she talks. Delores's eyeshadow exactly matched the shade of Viola's dress. "It really is exciting, the build-up, all the events that lead up to the Oscars," Delores told Dispatches. "I am a drama teacher in Central Falls, Rhode Island. It's the stage where [Viola] got her start. That's where we grew up," she added. When Dispatches asked Viola if her new short hair was for a role, she answered, "No, it's for life. I've found my voice, my comfort level, and I'm so excited to see where it takes me."           

Octavia Spencer had on a lemon-lime Tadashi Shoji. When I asked Allison Janney, who starred alongside Spencer in The Help, if she knew that she was wearing the same designer as Spencer, she answered, “Of course. She’s my best friend.”

Loretta Devine, meanwhile, said she found her suit at Forever 21, and it looked expensive. She was perfectly well suited the event, so good for her.

On the younger end of the spectrum of women in film, The Descendents actress Shailene Woodley attended with the party with her mom (who is a schoolteacher) and wore a polka dot blouse paired with violet slacks. Selena Gomez, sans beau Justin Bieber, wore a short cocktail dress with a plunging sweetheart neckline and said she mostly wears swimsuits and short shorts in Spring Break, her next film, also starring James Franco. In case you're wondering, Franco does not play a spring breaker in the flick, per se.

—Jeffrey Slonim


Oscar Week Dispatch: The Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon

Lunch with the ladies of The Help, dinner with the mayor, and a late-night round of dominoes with young Hollywood.

February 27, 2012

Viola Davis and Constance White  

Thursday, dateline Beverly Hills.

At the tony pink Beverly Hills Hotel, after a smooth, winding ride amid verdant palm fond and fragrant floral vines, a young valet in a polo shirt and running shoes asks for the keys to my car.

Dispatches was attending Essence magazine’s fifth annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, where Kerry Washington (vanguard award), Paula Patton (shining star award), and Octavia Spencer (breakthrough performance), among others, were being honored. Constance White, who used to write about fashion at The New York Times and is now crossing the one year mark as editor in chief at Essence, was the afternoon’s unofficial host.

With its frenetically animated red carpet, the meaningful luncheon is always one of the most warm and welcoming events of Oscar week. And, of course, with The Help being a strong Academy Award contender, all eyes were on Viola Davis, who flaunted short red hair and wore a form-fitting dress by Victoria Beckham. (Said form appears slightly less curvy than it was during her last Oscar run.)

Octavia Spencer indicated that she was dieting but taking it one day at a time, one meal at a time. She mentioned that she hadn't been considering Sunday’s Oscars, but that when she did, she had a "freak-out moment" the night before.

Paula Patton, who wore Marchesa, apparently shares the same trainer as Davis and said that she's rooting for Spencer and Davis, "because I know their journey," she said. Still, Midnight in Paris was the film that spoke to her this year.

Salim Akil, director of Sparkle, spoke to Dispatches about Whitney Houston's performance in his film, which he is currently editing. "Her fans will be the judge of what it means and how it will stand up over time. But she gave a fabulous performance.” Jordin Sparks, who co-starred in the film with Houston, also attended but declined to chat with print media.

Dennis Haysbert, just back from filming in the jungles of Puerto Rico, swam 50 laps to bolster his physique and impress the head-turning ladies at the luncheon.

A Night for Nominees
Later that night, The Hollywood Reporter hosted an Oscar Nominees' Night at the residence of LA mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. The bucolic stone house—restored by Ann Getty as a gift to the city—is one of hundreds in the historically 1920s-grand Hancock Park neighborhood.

"We filmed in Hancock Park," noted The Artist’s Penelope Ann Miller, who had an I Dream of Jeannie blonde ponytail and explained that the area was once peopled by studio bigs. "You're right by Paramount. You're in studioland," she said.

Max Von Sydow, 82, mentioned to Dispatches that he resides in France. "I was very moved by the script when I read it," he said of Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close. And no, he didn't manage to save anything from the set of The Seventh Seal.

  Kathy Hilton and Kim Richards

Amara Miller, the little girl from The Descendants, said that after one scene, George Clooney (known prankster) threw himself on the floor and pretended his back had gone out. 

On the subject of the Mayor Villaraigosa as host, Piers Morgan correctly noted, "He always has the best food at this party." Indeed, there were three different types of caviar on bellini. And Dispatches went back twice to the espresso bar. A youthful and bright Kathy Hilton, there with husband Rick, introduced sister Kim, of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, to the mayor, who had asked to meet her. Hilton also found time to squash a rumor that members of the press aren’t her real friends, citing this writer as “a real friend.” A thank you goes out to her for that kind aside. 

Midnight in Paris leading man Owen Wilson made me feel terrific, because he has a small pot belly—but that didn't stop the gals from swarming. It was one of those clear, crisp nights in an elegantly appointed garden, tented on one side.  And I really didn't want to leave.

But at the Sunset Tower in West Hollywood, where the Vanity Fair Oscar fête takes place, Bovet 1822 was hosting the fifth annual Hollywood Domino Gala and Tournament, benefiting Artists for Peace and Justice.

The back end of the party by the pool overlooked a sparkling view of LA and had a fun open-air photo booth, where guests could don a fake mustache and be green-screened next to the Eiffel Tower.

Dispatches spotted Ben Stiller and Jon Hamm busting a move. I also saw Rachael Leigh Cook, Laura Prepon, LeAnn Rimes, Ali Larter, and Zachary Levi, but none of them actually stayed long enough for the gaming to begin. The truth is, while the Domino Gala is fun, young Hollywood barely has the attention span to play a game and it often begins in the wee hours.

While waiting for my car, I ran into Moby, who mentioned that he'd moved to California. He said he works at home, avoiding the traffic situation, which can be daunting.        

—Jeffrey Slonim
photographs by Frederick M. Brown/ (Davis, White); KEVIN MAZUR/ (Hilton, Richards)


Oscar Week Dispatch: Global Green’s Pre-Oscar Party

Celebrities like Emmy Rossum and Maggie Grace donned eco-friendly threads for Wednesday’s Global Green USA bash.

February 24, 2012

This morning I ate breakfast at The Fountain Coffee Room in the basement of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Julian Schnabel said hello from across the counter. We've bonded on the red carpet, and at a lunch for Blue Velvet last year. He really does have a charming way about him. When Denise, a waitress who has worked there for 14 years, asked him if he wanted anything else, he said, "To marry you."

After he took off, I suggested that the next time he offered to marry her, she ask him to draw a sketch of her on a napkin. And then, whiIe I was waiting for my car, Sandra Lee, Andrew Cuomo's gal pal, walked up in flats and smooched me. She told me she's co-hosting Elton John's fête on Sunday. You can always tell how beautiful a beauty is when you run into her in the daylight. Lee looked sensational, even in flip-flops. Although, I kind of had no idea who she was for a second.

On Wednesday night I attended the Ninth Annual Pre-Oscar Global Green USA Party at Avalon in West Hollywood. Avalon is a great old nightclub that must have had a hundred lives over the years. It has hanging plants in the upstairs VIP area, where I ran into Adrian Grenier, who mentioned that "water is the biggest issue" for him. "It's over 70-percent of the planet's surface." Didn't we pick that up in elementary school? Kat Graham of Vampire Diaries caught our eye with her green eyeshadow.

Oh, and the latest model of the Chevy Volt was parked on the green Astroturf carpet. The Volt was plugged in and, frankly, looked quite sleek. Perfect for the Hamptons.

Emmy Rossum and Maggie Grace both wore eco-friendly gowns designed by Oliver Tolentino, who uses pineapple fiber and hemp to make his dresses. Rossum's was a pineapple-lemon shade, and Grace's was light peach. Yum. Grace mentioned that her sexy gown had a silk lining but was biodegradable. 

And Julia Jones, of Twilight fame, was wearing vintage Carolina Herrera. She was shooting in Montana and found a store run by a country club-type who was selling all of her old Armani and Herrera. If buying vintage, a kind of recycling, means I'm green, I'm in. When is the next bus to Great Falls, Montana? Or should we cycle to recycle?

By the way, the Chevy Volt can travel 379 miles on a charge at up to 50 mph, sort of. There was also a fun $55,000 Xenon electric bike. I've attended this party for nearly nine years, and every year it is nutty fun. 

I overheard a hunky Global Green board member mention that he'd just been to the arctic and that it was in "terrible condition." One thing’s for sure, if we all wear clothes made out of pineapples and drive cars that run on electricity, no one can point the finger at us come the next Ice Age.


by jeffrey slonim


Dispatch: The DGA and SAG Awards Weekend

Palm trees, panty lines, the rise of The Artist and the Brangelina show.

February 01, 2012

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the SAG Awards

Years ago, when Dispatches was staying at a big hotel on Sunset Boulevard during Oscar week, my hotel pool was being used for a party, and the front desk sent me to a tiny boutique hotel off Santa Monica to swim in the pool on their jewel rooftop. The small hotel sits beside a picturesque traffic circle with a fountain in the center and loads of tropical flowers. Charm notwithstanding, the then aging dive had seen better days. No surprise it was eventually sold, given a hip makeover and steep new room rates. I haven’t stayed there in years. So when a travel agent suggested a special price at the Chamberlain, I grabbed the chance to stay there.  

It was also, of course, heaven to trade Manhattan’s 30-degree temperatures for sunny West Hollywood. Welcome to Dispatches’ tony SAG Awards weekend.   

Directors Guild of America Awards
Arriving at the Chamberlain, I was dismayed to find that the hotel had gone so upscale: Draperies now covered the walls of the valet area, which used to be self park. I checked in, ran upstairs, threw on my tux and zipped over to the Grand Ballroom at Kodak Theatre, where, at the last minute, I was invited to a friend's table to watch the Directors Guild Awards.

Kelsey Grammer, who was hosting, told me he wasn’t planning to rip apart the room full of penguins as Ricky Gervais had done at the Golden Globes. “I don’t have any ax to grind,” he said. “I’m not a comedian.”  

He correctly described his act as being “simple and charming . . . a couple of jokes and we’re out.” Phew. So how did he prep for the big day? He played catch with his kids and then took them to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast. (Has anyone else noticed that Le Pain Quotidien now has locations on practically every corner in the free world?) 

I also met Nick Krause, the kid who plays Shailene Woodley’s friend (a.k.a. the preppy dolt who gets punched) in The Descendants. He claims that the sun turned his hair a little lighter for the film: "I was out in the Hawaiian sun all the time, and it has that effect,” he said. Nice work if you can get it. The film’s director, Alexander Payne, told us he listened to a lot of ukulele tracks while on the Big Island.    

Sir Ben Kingsley’s wife, Lady Daniela Kingsley, is more than a head taller than him—and so lovely. Sir Ben is apparently a fabulous chef and Lady Daniela mentioned she’s into his guinea fowl. 

Peter Fonda wasn’t up for an award, but said he was completely freaked out by the traffic on the way over. Nick Nolte, who has gained much weight, said that his driver got lost and wanted to drop him off next to the fake Marilyn in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Nolte wasn’t having it.

And director Michel Hazanavicius, who won the big award for The Artist (starring his wife Bérénice Bejo), said he didn’t have a distributor when they shot the film in Los Angeles with the mainly American cast. Bejo was dressed for the '20s and offered, in a delightful Gallic lilt, “Of course, it’s Michel’s award." Man, is that movie cute.

Screen Actors Guild Awards
On an exceedingly sunny Sunday, The SAG Awards took place at the Shrine Auditorium, a huge white wedding cake of a building sat beside USC. The neighborhood is filled with moldy frat houses but then also soon flooded with limos and stars.

In New York, onlookers are generally too busy to actually stop and act like fans. But in Los Angeles, they build bleachers for the screaming masses that line the quarter-mile red carpet that hugs the Shrine. Brad and Angelina inevitably worked the fans’ side of the red carpet, the far side, where the shrieking folks who actually buy tickets to their films sit.

An aging Dick Van Dyke, who was there to say a few kind words about Mary Tyler Moore, spotted “Brangelina” and hurried over, thinking they would pause to shake his hand. No such luck; they didn’t even turn his way. Instead, he was glad-handed by their stylist.  

30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden was sporting a sweet, smallish diamond (reportedly $30K). “That’s the ring,” she told Dispatches, holding out a band with a relatively modest stone. She then pointed out her small but hunky fiancé, Ben Jorgensen, of the band Armor for Sleep. Ashlee Simpson, who had short, cropped blonde hair, was with her new man, Boardwalk Empire actor Vincent Piazza. She had on a dress by Jenny Packham, as did Angelina, by the way.  

An overzealous press woman at the end of the carpet found out what Angelina was wearing and ran down the red plush yelling to reporters "Jenny Beckham!" Oops.  And, wow, did Angelina have a lot of tats on view in that dress, loads of script and a biggie showing where the dress was cut low in back. She’s like a curvy billboard in person.   

Nominated for her role as Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep did the royal wave to the bleacher-bound as she beelined down the center of the carpet without chatting.  

Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland recalled the moment at the Golden Globes when her vintage Dolce & Gabbana dress began to disintegrate before Dispatches eyes. She had stood demurely on the carpet while her handlers sewed her back into the gown. “It was interesting,” she said. “I was upset, because, of course, it has to happen to me, but I was fine." She did, however, take issue with publicists and passersby who tried to snap photos of her wardrobe malfunction. "If you want a picture, ask me. But when you're just trying to sneak it…”

Of course, we now know that The Artist is one of the year’s very biggest films. When James Cromwell was cast in the smaller role of the chauffer, he didn’t balk. “I started my career playing a chauffeur,” he told Dispatches on the red carpet. “But I was surprised that the film got made, and more surprised when I saw it. Michel did it more than right; he made a work of art."

  "I always wear underwear," exclaimed Sofia Vergara to the press backstage at the SAG Awards

Moving from the red carpet to backstage, where the stars address the press following a win, Steve Buscemi broke up a fight between the little twin boys from Boardwalk Empire. One of them was grandstanding—doing some dance moves—and ended up smacking his brother in the head. It is so rare that kid actors actually act like kids that it was almost refreshing, minus the Lord of the Flies overtones.

As Sofia Vergara stepped up to the podium, she also stepped on the hem of her Marchesa dress and nearly toppled as she took the mic to talk about the big Modern Family win. “I always wear underwear,” Vergara said of her bikini briefs that were in no way showing. “It’s just that they’re very tiny. You could say there is almost no underwear, but there is always underwear. It’s under there,” she said.

The cast of The Help warmed everyone’s hearts as they discussed their real-life roles as advocates against racism—Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer defended playing maids in the film. Cicely Tyson called Davis and Spencer’s dual SAG award wins a “historic moment.” It didn’t surprise Tyson that Davis and Spencer both won, however. “What surprised me was that they were both black,” she said. “That’s unusual.”    

But the man who really charmed the press backstage was The Artist 's Jean Dujardin. When the topic of his Academy Award race came up, he began dancing with a big smile rather than speaking. And then, when one reporter asked if he would be proud to be the first Frenchman ever to win an Oscar—the last six SAG winners for best actor went on to win Academy Awards—he began singing "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. He has as much personality in person as he does onscreen.    

Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin, who won for his role on 30 Rock, dredged up his now famed American airlines incident by admitting that he’s “still playing words with friends.”

“But now on Virgin Atlantic,” he added.

—jeffrey slonim

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