Friday, November 15, 2013

Dining With the Stars:
Italian Style on Sunset Blvd.

A night on the town in Rome and Hollywood

Is Paolo Sorrentino the Fellini of our time?

After watching the hypnotic Italian jewel “La Grande Bellezza,” you might not think that the comparison is inappropriate or that it’s disrespectful to either man. Sorrentino’s film premiered at Cannes to five-star reviews. The Guardian described it as “a pure sensual overload of richness and strangeness and sadness.” 

Toni Servillo stars in "La Grande Bellezza," la dolce vita Sorrentino-style

The film begins at a deafening party on a Roman terrace filled with a writhing mass of revelers. At one point, Sorrentino swoops in on a close up of a suddenly distraught woman screaming hysterically into the camera, “I’ve lost my cell phone!” as if that is the worst tragedy imaginable nowadays. 

The director is doing for the depredations of the Berlusconi era what Fellini did for Rome in the 1960s. 

Watch the trailer for "La Grande Bellezza"

Inexplicably, the film is both a wicked paean to the excesses of our times and a meditation on what it means to live with humility, introspection and kindness for others. It all strangely works in the most enjoyable, impressive way possible. Not to be missed. 

A combination of Hollywood and Italian glitterati showed up for a gala screening on Thursday night. 

Oscar's Golden Moments:
That Was Entertainment

A Fine Bromance!

On the 1979 broadcast, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Steve Lawrence performed this clever tribute to memorable songs that did not receive Oscar nominations.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dining With the Stars:
Bruce Dern, Jack Nicholson
and More Cupcakes

A private screening of "Nebraska"
for 600 of Jack's Close Friends

 It was another big night in Hollywood on Tuesday at the Jack Nicholson-hosted private showing of Alexander Payne’s terrific “Nebraska.” 

Is it Bruce Dern's turn for an Oscar? He was last nominated in 1978.

Screen icons of an important earlier generation turned out in force to applaud Bruce Dern’s indelible performance, surely one of the year’s finest (and one that already had earned him the Best Actor award in Cannes in May). Peter Fonda, Mel Gibson, and Sean Penn were in the audience. So were SNL favorites Bill Haider and Molly Shannon, cheering on the multi-talented Will Forte who plays Bruce Dern’s son in the film. 

No Jack, no Sean, no Mel, no press! Cupcakes instead
Elliot Gould told us he would be back on TV in “Ray Donovan” next year. “You’re a very bad guy,” we chided. “No, I’m a great guy!” he insisted. 

Payne, Dern, and producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger fielded beaucoup kudos at the reception in the WGA lobby after the film. It was a strict no press, no photography evening. Hence no celeb pics here. But we did manage to sneak a snap of the wonderful red velvet cupcakes that Jackson’s Catering served for dessert. 

Watch Jack Nicholson's wry speech accepting his first Oscar for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Even if the film’s a dud, you can always count on first class food from Jackson’s. Fortunately for us, both last night’s film and the feast following it were outstanding.

Oscar's Golden Moments:
Jack Nicholson Wins His First Oscar for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Against heavy competition from Al Pacino, Walter Mathau,  Maximilian Schell, and James Whitmore, a young Jack Nicholson won his first Best Actor Oscar for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975).

The film received nine Oscar nominations, winning five for Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dining With the Stars:
Oscar Season Revs Up With
Parties, and More Parties

During the nominations period, Oscar
hopefuls put out the welcome mat for press
and Academy members.

Sliders and lemon bars and mini-cupcakes. 

It's awards season here in Hollywood, and that means plenty of screenings and parties for voters. There are way too many to attend, but we soldier on anyway. 

What kind of party would Jay Gatsby throw if he were a studio head?

Convivial soiree at the hipper-than-anyone-we-know-or-would-want-to Redbury on Saturday night for the lovely Canadian film Gabrielle. We saw many old friends (the adorable Marcus Hu, among them) at the home of the French consul yesterday and got to meet the director of the original, poetic, must-see Cambodian feature The Missing Picture.

In the evening we partied with Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Collin Farrell, all amazing and Oscar worthy in the delightful Saving Mr. Banks. Deadline Hollywood's Pete Hammond presided over an informative, entertaining Q&A after the DGA screening. 

Then out to the lobby for more sliders, mini-grilled cheese, lemon bars and individual pecan tarts. We'd give an Oscar to the caterer who comes up with something different this year.