RSVIP: Oscar Countdown: 26th Film Independent Spirit Awards
The tent for the Film Independent Spirit Awards was a white plastic Quonset hut the size of an office complex. A crane huddled beside the white plastic structure that rippled in the wind. But apparently it was strong enough to hold the man standing on it three stories in the air, drawing a rope over the top.
Driving wind cut across the choppy surf, accumulating fine sand on the cement bike path. In our bones, we could feel the raw, salty proximity to the briny sea. One foreign female journalist in a short black sequined dress had goose bumps on her legs that resembled hives.
Waiting while staffed dried rain that had poured into the tent the night before, the press struggled for an hour in the bitter chill.
By 11:00 a.m.,the gray carpet arrivals corridor was flanked on one side by metal stanchions and a thousand journalists. Open at both ends it had flaps cut into the side facing the Pacific, creating a mild wind-tunnel.
"I love the weather," said director John Waters, above, a host at previous events, wearing Comme des Garcon and pants decorated with camouflage paint. "It's like a face lift." Actor Rainn Wilson, too, said he was relaxed "not to be hosting this time."
"I changed my mind three times about what I was going to wear," offered Nia Vardalos, dressed comfortably. "I was going to wear a sleeveless Michael Kors dress with jewels in the front. But it was too cold . . . so I brought this coat."
Mia Wasikowska, left, of "The Kids Are All Right" went with a white lace Rodarte number with fine straps on her shoulders, and she appeared to be suffering. Mark Ruffalo had on a suit with skinny black pants and an open shirt. But his wife appeared to be shaking as the wind caught her chiffon dress.
After chatting with crews, Erika Christensen jogged to the tented lunchroom. She had a triangle open to the cold on the back of her short dress. "My car was like a sauna on the way over," she told RSVIP. "As soon as I got out, I was like, 'Thank God.' The cold didn't hit me until right at the end of the carpet."
Naomi Watts, her bag covered in a patchwork of needlepoint letters, also looked cold as she hurried inside with her head down.
Samuel L. Jackson, in a jacket with thin, summery stripes, rubbed the shoulders of a woman standing beside him. Jon Hamm and his wife, Jennifer walked the carpet arm in arm for warmth. And a woolen auteur's scarf swirled around the neck of "Black Swan" director Darren
Pregnant, Natalie Portman, right, resembled a demure Miss Muffet in a short dress with a bright yellow lace top and finely pleated skirt. It had rained hard the night before, and on the wet stage, Portman said she nearly slipped in her tall, plastic shoes.
Nicole Kidman's long, lacy red dress was by designer L'Wren Scott, Mick Jagger's tall gal pal. Pink spots decorated Kidman's shoes.
James Franco, below, who picked up a Spirit Award for his performance in "127 Hours," wisely wore a long sweater over the shoulders of his suit. "My whole family is coming out," said Franco of his performance as co-host at the Academy Awards on Sunday. "I gave my ticket to one of my family members." So where will he be standing when his category is called? "I'll be backstage."
"It's been going on for 80 years," Franco continued to speak of the Academy Awards apparatus and his act onstage, "So in some ways, it will seem familiar."
Rosario Dawson wore a sexy animal print, saying that when she opened the package, she thought, "Half my dress is missing . It's kind of freezing."
"I'm kind of bummed," Dawson added. "I brought my raincoat, and it didn't rain."
At 3:15 p.m., RSVIP passed a pregnant Natalie Portman making her third visit to a Porta-San. Remaining hydrated is key when you're expecting.
Nearby, in a warm tent, On 3 Productions offered swag to the stars. Kate Walsh, who knew both her American and European shoe sizes, was offered New Balance sneakers. "What's your Japanese size?" kidded a rep for the company. She also got a nautical-inspired Nautica bikini. Ahoy!
Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts eased into the gift tent together and perched near LG Cinema's amazing 3D HDTV display until a rep asked them to sign T-shirts, presumably for charity. They scurried from the venue.
Vanessa Hudgens, meanwhile, lifted her hair to show RSVIP a fresh butterfly tattoo on the back of her neck shortly after she received a year's supply of Pure Dark chocolate as well as an AMC film pass. A team from Vera Bradley luggage, who provided swag bags for stars, offered a paisley burgundy umbrella to Hudgens that she had admired. She was wearing a long knit dress and danced to stay warm.
"Wow, is he good-looking," offered a rep for On 3 when Joe Manganiello, who plays a buff werewolf on "True Blood," left the venue.