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Despite war, winners celebrate in style

The so-called 'subdued' 75th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre had barely ended when guests began pouring into the Governor's Ball.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2003 12:03 IST

The so-called 'subdued' 75th Annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theatre had barely ended when guests began pouring into the Governor's Ball, the official Academy dinner party for 1,650 winners, nominees, presenters and performers in the sumptuously decorated Governor's Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland complex.

The ballroom was filled to capacity with white dogwood and lilies, huge black-and-white stills of old movie stars, and a revolving orchestra in the center of the room that at times made the whole place feel like it was spinning. But for the Oscar winners, their worlds were already spinning.

"Frida" director Julie Taymor hugged Mexican hottie Gael Garcia Bernal, then took off her lace cover-up and shared possession of the Best Score Oscar with partner and composer Elliot Rosenthal.

Best Actor Oscar winner Adrien Brody, gripping his gold man, was definitely the man of the hour, accepting congrats from the Academy members who had voted for him. Ironically the actor, who had said so few words in the moving film directed by exiled Oscar winner Roman Polanski, was quite the Chatty Cathy -- and Kissing Bandit. Of his shocking tongue wrestle with presenter Halle Berry, Brody, clad in Zegna, shrugged and said, "Hey, I went for it. I gave it my best shot." A lot of the female party guests loitered near the dapper actor, hoping they might get caught in a lip lock as well.

Diane Lane, sparkling in a golden Oscar de la Renta gown, and Julianne Moore, resplendent in a deep green strapless YSL frock and emerald Boucheron chandelier earrings, talked about how much their husband/boyfriends looked alike. Both actor Josh Brolin and director Bart Freundlich are dark-haired, a few years younger than their mates and hunkily handsome.

Amy Madigan and husband Ed Harris looked for a place to smoke before going to the ball, just as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" star Nia Vardalos, looking svelte in a black gown with sheer sleeves, was accosted by an In Style reporter who pleaded with her to talk to him. She resisted the urge, saying, "I'm sorry, I'm not supposed to talk to reporters. And if I talk to you, then I have to talk to everyone." She added, however, "I can tell you that I'm wearing Badgley Mischka and I loved the show."

Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein shared the sentiments. And why not, with "Chicago" taking top honors. Weinstein was all smiles, giving a congratulatory hug to Prada-suited "Chicago" director Rob Marshall. Catherine Zeta-Jones, with her attractive (if embalmed) husband Michael Douglas, looked radiant, relaxed and refreshed. So much so, that every woman there wanted to know her secret to serenity at eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Maybe it was her chocolate brown, custom-made Versace frock?

Kathy Bates, looking darn sexy in a crimson Eric Gaskins gown and a 27-carat Harry Winston necklace, sat down and snarfed some food to get her through the night. Nicole Kidman, wearing a chic and sheer Jean Paul Gaultier couture gown, didn't succumb to the snacks, but dragged Mum and Dad through the crowd to a reserved table so they could grab a bite of Wolfgang Puck's vittles: lobster salad, sweet pea soup, striped sea bass, spring vegetables and chocolate creme brulee with vanilla ice cream.

Julia Roberts, who looked like she hadn't had a good meal in ages, arrived with her publicist but sans hubby cameraman Danny Moder. Roberts dashed to the back of the ball, but paused by the table where Daniel Day-Lewis, wearing a shiny Ozwald Boateng suit, was dining with his wife and some Miramax biggies including Bob Weinstein.

Rumor has it that Roberts and Day-Lewis dated way back when she wasn't such a big Hollywood diva. Word was this would be the first time she'd run into the reclusive actor since their big bust-up (when he dumped her, we hear). But much to everyone's dismay, Day-Lewis never even looked up from his meal. Still, from his gaunt frame, he needed the calories more than a meeting with an ex-girlfriend.

Much of the party buzz was centered on the boos during "Bowling for Columbine" Oscar winner Michael Moore's acceptance speech, an impassioned plea for peace in which he slammed Bush with mentions of disapproval from The Dixie Chicks and the Pope.

"I represent the majority opinion in this country," Moore said in his defense later. "The majority of us did not elect George W. Bush. The majority of us did not want this war and the majority of Americans have a good heart and will remember what Mr. Bush has done." But he was pretty happy to be a winner and preferred to focus on the standing ovation, not the boos his speech inspired. "That's what this country is all about. Freedom of speech."

It was well after midnight before stars broke free for Vanity Fair's annual Oscar bash, held at Morton's in West Hollywood. But this year, the Miramax bash gave the mag a run for its après-Oscar party money with its event at the St. Regis Hotel in Century City. Mostly non-famous industry folks crowded the lower lounge-like floor, with circle bars, beige sectionals and more gardenias and lilies, until the casts of "Chicago" and "Frida" arrived well after one in the morning. Honcho Harvey sipped his Diet Coke with the still razzmatazz Zeta-Jones, who was congratulated by the diminutive Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The other brunette nominee, Salma Hayek, looked a little weary but summoned the strength to hug her makeup artist, Beatrice De Alba, the woman behind her bushy brows in "Frida."

With Oscar night being a big date night, Matthew McConaughey obliged with a shapely brunette in a strapless dress. E! hostess Melissa Rivers posed for pics with Jennifer Lopez's ex-husband, dancer Cris Judd. The pair had bonded while filming the reality show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," during which he revealed the details of falling in love with Lopez which brought tears to Rivers' brown eyes. But don't feel too sorry for him. He also posed for photos with two Coors Light Girls. The guy gets around.

Most of the Oscar partygoers lingered until 2am. But perhaps 007 Sean Connery was the smartest celebrator. In a frilly white shirt and a tux jacket with tails, the original James Bond did a discreet walk-through and fled in 15 minutes flat -- shaken, but definitely not stirred.

First Published: Mar 25, 2003 11:28 IST