SO THIS IS HOLLYWOOD!

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The first Oscar party I attended was at Donna Reed's house in Beverly Hills and I got into a huge debate with Lynda Bird Johnson whose daddy was then the president and after that went off to a disco called The Daisy where a great actor but nasty man named Laurence Harvey came in with two streetwalkers and started teasing George Hamilton (then engaged to LBJ's daughter) by asking him to dance and George's mother who wore a conical hat called a medieval hennin kept telling "Larry" not to tease her George and a guy came in waving an Oscar he'd won that evening and I got into a big discussion of Scott Fitzgerald with John Ireland who'd starred in a grand BBC version of "Last Tycoon" and when I finally got home to the Beverly Hills Hotel I thought: So this is Hollywood!

I have enjoyed Oscar night ever since.

This year there were as always some smashing Oscar parties both in L.A. and in New York and I went to the one that Jim Seymore and Michael Klingensmith of Entertainment Weekly threw at Elaine's restaurant and it was a doozy.

In the gutter were two of those searchlights that you always see in movies about the RAF bombing Berlin and also at supermarket openings in Santa Monica. PR people checked names at the door where a bald gent painted all over in gold and wearing tight little underpants stood outside shivering and trying to look like an Oscar. Which he did very well. Inside there was a second chap dressed the same and he and the first guy switched places every 30 minutes, he said, so they wouldn't freeze.

And in a nice, collegial touch, the Entertainment Weekly hosts had invited the lads from Variety, Editor Peter Bart and Publisher Gerry Byrne, and we all had a quick one at the bar and gazed about at the assembled splendors, which included any number of covergirls attached at the hip to men identified to me as producers. There were paparazzi and TV cameras and in came Robert Goulet and Al Roker and Art Buchwald was there and Walter and Betsy Cronkite and Lynn Redgrave and Ricki Lake who didn't assault a single fashion designer or anyone wearing fur. Also there were Bianca Jagger, Lauren Hutton, James Ivory and Sean Young.

I saw a place card with Valerie Perrine's name on it but couldn't find Valerie. She is one of my favorite Parade interviews of all time because she told me stories about how she used to pack a gun and when she and her boyfriend had a fight she cut off the left legs of all his suits. Or maybe she cut off the right sleeves of all his suits. And then drove his car into a tree. Or something. I love Valerie Perrine who is also a gifted actress.

The great men of Time Inc. were there, including Mr. Levin, quite casual in a sports jacket and shirt with no tie. Mr. Pearlstine was there with Nancy Friday who is his wife and a great writer and would not think of cutting off the legs of her husband's suits. I had a chat with Robert Altman and reminded him he should have purchased one of my novels when he decided to make that movie about Paris fashion and his wife and he both said, "Please, don't start."

So Mike Wallace and I discussed Don Imus whom we love and by now they had served dinner and the TV sets were all tuned to ABC and we could watch the Oscars. And next morning, so I could do a CNBC report I called Peter Bart about the winners (Mel Gibson, he informed me, is "mildly civil, at best. At best!") and to John Weitz about the fashions. Said Mr. Weitz, the women looked marvelous (though from one angle Susan Sarandon "showed too much boob") and many of the men "like idiots." But he liked Mr. Gibson. "He didn't look as if he'd lost his collar and left his tie at home."

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