RSVIP: Oscar Countdown, Essence Black Women in Hollywood Lunch and More
At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 24, RSVIP took a quick right off Sunset Boulevard up the palm-lined driveway of the Beverly Hills Hotel, and an efficient attendant in a polo shirt commandeered my rental car.
Downstairs, by the leafy patio, a slenderized Jennifer Hudson had her adorable baby in tow during arrivals at the 2011 Essence Magazine Black Women in Hollywood Awards luncheon. Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, and Viola Davis were also being honored.
"This is very important to me," Davis, right, told RSVIP concerning the event. "Black women need to be acknowledged as often as possible," she said. "There's the business of deprivation of roles, and even when we've done roles, they often seem to be roles that aren't fleshed out."
"This is the best," Tatyana Ali, left, concurred, on her way inside the sprawling lunchroom where ballroom chairs hugged the tables. "There is nothing like it in Hollywood."
The event was a cavalcade of African-American stars. "It took about an hour and a half to do my hair," offered Brandy. "I had to wash it and flat-iron it."
A towering Kimora Lee Simmons grabbed singer-actress Jill Scott for a photo on her BlackBerry. Angela Basset wore Valentino, and Gabriella Union said she had on Douglas Hannant.
But Angela Simmons had the most fun shoes. Her Giuseppe Zanotti high-heeled boots were covered in large yellow, pink, and aqua crystals.
Serena Williams, wearing Fendi, claimed she gets "tongue-tied" when she encounters stars. Williams carried a purse by Donna Karan. Her bangs had a dash of red, and sparkle dust accented her chest.
Moet & Chandon, meanwhile, provided gold-painted bottles of the same Imperial Brut that will be served at the Academy's Governor's ball on Sunday. Trays of pillow-cut glass chips displayed the glimmering bottles of bubbly, surrounded by arrangements of pink roses.
RSVIP's evening revelries began near Wilshire Boulevard, where the camera-ready mayor of Los Angeles, the Honorable Antonio R. Villaraigosa, and his stunning wife reside at Getty House, a Tudor manse with luxe stone-lined gardens restored by Ann Getty.
Here, sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger, The Hollywood Reporter celebrated the Academy's Best Picture nominees in a sizable tent out back. The menu featured crab legs, steak, and much bubbly.
We spied Bill Paxton and Kyle MacLachlan whooping it up with friends in a banquette. "It's like a party in Southampton," said Kathy Hilton, who said she privately frets about her sisters quarreling on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." She also promised to invite RSVIP when she entertains the entire cast at her house in Southampton, New York, this summer.
Estelle Harris, George's mother on "Seinfeld," was swathed in black-and-white fur. Cheryl Hines, right, of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," said she was wearing Tommy Hilfiger, a nod to the sponsor. And Cuba Gooding, Jr., mentioned that he had first visited Getty House in 2001. "We were only in the garden, but the house looks impeccable," he noted.
Jenna Elfman, Armie Hammer, Bill Maher, Milla Jovovich, and Vera Wang also attended.
The same night, the dress code was 1940s glamour at the Sunset Tower for the Hollywood Domino fund-raiser for the Seven Bars Foundation. The benefit was sponsored by Circa, a global company that "buys jewelry from the public and puts it back into the marketplace, a kind of 'recycling,'" according to a rep, that creates less need for mining precious metals and stones.
A greenly lean Paris Hilton, left, in sparkling beads, told RSVIP that she jogs and rides her bike in her gated community to keep her sexy shape. Her sister, Nicky, had on Missoni.
A full swing band blared. And well-known guests congregated on a deck overlooking the sweeping view of Los Angeles. "Twilight"'s Kellan Lutz appeared to have combed his hair since we last spotted him in the front row at the Calvin Klein Men's show in New York a week earlier. Poolside, Lance Bass laughed with Hayden Panettiere. Wispy Brit social, Lady Victoria Hervey, quipped, "I keep having to remind myself to eat" during a busy Oscar week. And Michelle Trachtenberg said she was wearing Georges Chakra couture.
Tables overlooking the pool weren't manned for domino playing until 11:00 p.m. This, by the way, is the same space where Vanity Fair will host its famed Oscar fete on Sunday.
No wonder RSVIP has yet to receive our invite. The location is tiny in comparison with the now-defunct Mortons on Melrose Avenue, where the party was previously held.