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Afterparty Confidential: On the Town for Oscar Night

[IMG:L]After a celebrity-booty-numbing Academy Awards ceremony that lasted nearly four hours, Hollywood’s biggest stars all agreed on one thing: it was time to party. Whether it was swilling celebratory champagne with the winners, drowning our sorrows with the, um, non-winners or dishing on the dresses at an A-list viewing party, Hollywood.com bellied up to the bar at as many Oscar bashes as we could squeeze in.

The Governors Ball
The traditional first stop for the more well-mannered of the Tinseltown elite (ah-ah, sit down, Eddie Murphy), was the Academy’s own official post-party, the Governors Ball, held high atop the roof of the Hollywood & Highland complex, just a few flights of stairs away from the Kodak Theater.

The famous faces entered beneath an extensive vine and flower-covered archway in to bayou garden themed playground that dispensed with the usual tradition of a formal sit-down dinner and opted for a more lounge-y ambiance with open seating at high wooden bar tables, suede banquettes and wooden chests. Wisteria intertwined in the chandeliers hanging above trees fashioned from roses and mini-pagodas lit with candles and covered by fresh flowers and moss. In the center of the ballroom was the main bar, an oversized Oscar looming majestically above the revelers and a combo of female violinists who periodically performed from two spiral staircases.

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If this wasn’t already the “green” Oscars, Ed Begley, Jr., made it official as the first celebrity to arrive, with Tobey Maguire and his fiance Jennifer Meyer swinging by next, socializing at the entrance. A woman wearing jewelry designed by Meyer said hello, prompting Jennifer, in turn, to flash her engagement ring and show what all that Spider-Man money could buy.

The Queen herself, Helen Mirren, held court regally with her own royal consort, hubby Taylor Hackford, who dutifully held both milady’s clutch and milady’s Oscar. In the background, saxman Dave Koz rolled out a tribute to nearby attendee Quincy Jones, performing one of Q’s signature tunes, and on another musical note Clint Eastwood (yes, he’s recorded a hit song) congratulated Oscar-toting Melissa Etheridge and her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels.

John Travolta ducked a gaggle of too-friendly female fans and offered backslaps to his Phenomenon co-star of a decade ago, Forest Whitaker, who wielded Oscar like the Last King of Scotland’s scepter. Since both of those fellas looked like they had healthy appetites, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck popped out of the kitchen to get their reaction to the all-organic buffet menu, which included kobe beef, chicken breast, risotto with French truffles, spiny lobster shanghi-style and striped bass.

Abigail Breslin’s entourage contained a lot of adults, but her Curious George doll was still part of the posse—despite its ineffectiveness as a good luck charm. She took a seat in a kid friendly corner of the room which later filled up with Steven Spielberg’s party—do we smell a deal over power dining?

Jack Black and his wife tried to shake off a pesky camera crew—for once he wasn’t hungry to be the center of attention—as they chilled with Mark Wahlberg and his beautiful baby’s mama Rhea Durham. Nearby, Mark’s dearly Departed pal Leonardo DiCaprio circled the scene, finally celebrating in style at big winner Marty Scorsese’s Oscar-laden table.

More camera friendly than Jack Black was the new crown princess of the evening, Jennifer Hudson, who happily let fans—yes, fans among the Governors Ball elite—snap pictures with her and snag autographs as she hung with her mom and co-star Anika Noni Rose. But by midnight, Jennifer was telling you she is going, and she and her celebratory crew bounced for other bashes. 

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The Elton John AIDS Foundations 
[IMG:L]For someone who told his party guests that the Oscars are, and we quote, “rubbish,” Sir Elton John sure knew how to throw a powerhouse, star-studded viewing party.

Sir Elton’s guests arrived in the traditional tented area outside West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center around four in the afternoon to watch the ceremony on television—and by tent we mean a mondo-luxurious tribute to the nightclubs of Old Hollywood, with silvery, simple decor designed to be reminiscent of the kind of glamorous supper club nights where Bogie and Bacall kicked back cocktails in style.

We’re not sure who the designated Bogie-Bacall equivalents were, but we had our pick: there was Sir Elton and hubby David Furnish, kissing and what we commonly call canoodling; there was Kid Rock and Sharon Stone, who boogied together to the beat of James Blunt, who also brought his sig o, supermodel Petra Nemcova; and there was Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, who, well, mumbled and cackled a lot.

Yes, Hollywood is different these days.

Miss Stone—who dabbed away tears during Forest Whitaker’s acceptance speech—wasn’t just there to party; she had a job to do. She played the role of celebrity auctioneer, leaving her tablemates Diddy and Jon Bon Jovi to coquettishly coax some of the big-bucks guests to open their wallets to support Sir Elton’s AIDS Foundation and we’ll be darned if Sharon didn’t make the Foundation half a million dollars before she returned to her seat.

[IMG:R]One of the biggest-ticket items that Sharon let the professionals dicker away for was a one-on-one, one-hour football (that’s soccer to us Yanks) lesson with superstar and future Los Angeles athlete David Beckham, who would presumably teach the winner to bend it like, well, he does. One bidder offered $75,000 before changing his mind and deciding to give the money directly to the Foundation, which allowed a second bidder to snatch it up for the relatively bargain price of $50,000. Meanwhile, David’s spicy wife Victoria got lessons on the Posh-est places to shop when the Becks relocate from across the Pond—Diddy recommended Beverly Hills’ own Rodeo Drive…as if Victoria wouldn’t have found it on her own.

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Also on the block were a pair of Audis, available to be purchased for private ownership for the very first time in the U.S.: the brand-new 2008 Audi R8, valued at nearly $140,000; and the equally newly minted Audi TT Roadster, a $55,000 value that certainly tempted Ozzy. “ I like this car,” he told his missus. “I want one.”

“But Ozzy,” Sharon replied, “we have two already.”

[IMG:L]As Kiefer Sutherland celebrated his close pal Forest Whitaker’s win, he warmly greeted just about anyone who wanted to tell him how much they loved 24, while Tara Reid warmly greeted just about any cocktail in her immediate vicinity.

Eric McCormack danced with his wife Janet and offered us an uncensored, thespian-centric critique of the Oscars: “We have to figure out a way where actors have longer to speak and less other crap,” he said. “It was at 3:45 and every actor still was in dread about being cut off by the orchestra—not right.” Although he was moved by Helen Mirren and Martin Scorsese’s speeches, he wasn’t as weepy as Sharon Stone. “I never cry,” he insisted.

Tim Allen also offered his commentary on the ceremony. “I’m surprised that Babel did not win best movie,” he revealed, adding that he was “real happy with Forest Whitaker, and Scorsese’s moment got me—so cool to see those guys [Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola] give it to him. And the Dreamgirls were so cool, man—so much talent up there.”

Tim also sounded off on the age-old Academy discrimination against honoring comedic roles. “Every comic, myself included, wonders: when was the last time a comedian won anything? Really, it was Dustin Hoffman for Tootsie—but he isn’t even a comic.”

James Blunt closed out the night dueting on “Tiny Dancer” with Elton, followed by his own set that included the mega-hit “Beautiful,” and his appropriately beautiful lady love Petra danced atop a chair at the Audi table—taking photos of him on his cell phone to the delight of her tablemates Sarah Michelle Gellar(sans hubby Freddie Prinze but squired by her recent co-star Lee Pace…hmmm) and Desperate Housewives hunk James Denton.

[IMG:R]As Audi’s chauffeured cars whisked celebs including Sheryl Crowe, Macy Gray, Emmy Rossum, Kelly Osbourne (with new beau Kevin Zegers of Transamerica) and Chris O’Donnell to their various Oscar night destinations, no one was happier to see the party end than Sir Elton, and not because it was past his bedtime: the bash had raised $4.2 million for the fight against AIDS, and that was something worth celebrating.

The Envelope Please…
From Sir Elton’s bash it was just a quick walk up the block to The Abbey, one of gay Hollywood’s favorite hangouts, for yet another celebrity bash benefiting AIDS Project Los Angeles. “The Envelope Please…” was presented by SBE, the list-making, clubber-appraising peeps behind such star-packed hotspots as Hyde and Area, but the guest quotient was far less A-list than most average nights at their other clubs, despite the allure of hostess Jennifer Love Hewitt’s party of two. Note to SBE: Big boobs are rarely a key draw in West Hollywood.

[IMG:L]Love, who came clad in a cleavage-friendly Christian Dior gown, lived up to her name as she showered affection on her beau Ross McCall throughout the evening, while Haylie Duff couldn’t keep her lips off of her new man, A.J. Discala (Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s ex), and former Laker Rick Fox laid some hugs and kisses on a pair of beauties who asked him to pose in some photos. Even Girls Gone Wild’s icky entrepreneur Joe Francis was cruising around, presumably with some free t-shirt to hand out stashed somewhere on his person.

Given that the Abbey is such an epicenter on the gay club scene, there sure was a lot of hetero action happening!

Fortunately, newly single Lance Bass brought the place back to its roots, blowing off 80s pop idol Tiffany to fetch a glass of wine for a fetching blonde guy he was workin’ all night. Thanks for keeping it real, Lance.

Vanity Fair
All that was left was a quick little jaunt over to the hottest of the Oscar night after-bashes, the Vanity Fair party at Morton’s. But Hollywood.com’s invitation apparently got lost in the mail this year… Like Jaden Smith really needed a whole friggin’ table for his posse!

The End
Instead it was a time for one last nightcap at the Four Seasons Hotel, where we’d heard Leonardo had been staying and we knew Peter O’Toole had hoisted several glasses earlier in the week.

No sign at the bar of either of those two nominees, but we did encounter one generous and gregarious Academy Award winner, Thomas Lennon, who’d taken a trophy for the documentary short The Blood of Yingsou District, and—given that we surrounded him with three enthusiastic and drop-dead gorgeous TV hostesses in their sexiest party dresses—graciously offered to let us hold the coveted golden statuette.

And the Oscar goes to…Hollywood.com. At least for a few precious seconds.

—Reporting by Leah Sydney and Carlene Davis

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