It was a Hollywood party at a Beverly Hills four star eatery, but it was a New York night in so many ways. Paramount Pictures tossed itself a little Christmas party for its various films and stars at Wolfgang Puck’s spectacularly renovated Spago. Famed pastry chef Sherry Yard put out chocolate chip cookies and her other mouth watering desserts that smelled like sin. There were also piles of sushi, smoked salmon pizza, and teeny tiny cheeseburgers that melted in your mouth.
Who was there? Well, Barbra Streisand and her manager of 50 years, Marty Erlichmann, commandeered the middle booth on the left wall of the main room and that was it. She did get up and take a brief stroll through the place, but it ended with her exit. She missed fellow New Yorker and great singer from the same era Lainie Kazan, who arrived with Connie Stevens, Connie’s actress daughter Joely Fisher, and Sally Kellerman. “It’s possible,” someone said to Lainie, “it would be too much to have you and Barbra Streisand in the same room at the same time.”
Streisand is about to open in Paramount’s comedy “Guilt Trip” with Seth Rogen. But there were plenty of other Paramount players in the room to console those who missed the legend. David Chase came with James Gandolfini, the pair formerly of “The Sopranos” and with the cool music film “Not Fade Away.” “Did you see David and Jim?” asked Brad Grey, head of Paramount and one of the great studio chiefs of this generation. “It’s like old times.” Grey produced “The Sopranos” for HBO.
The much buzzed about for Oscar “Flight” was represented by Denzel Washington, who arrived on the late side, and Melissa Leo. Director Robert Zemeckis came with beautiful wife Leslie, a documentary filmmaker. Famed actor Robert Forster turned up, and gave everyone in the group a Christmas present– a sterling silver letter opener that works like magic. It’s become one of Hollywood’s mythic gifts. Forster hands them out on special occassions. I asked him, Do you have a closet stacked high with these?
“I have cartons,” he said, refusing still to say where he gets them. Forster is on his way to New York to film a new indie movie with Michael Parks and Dan Hedaya.
There were plenty of Academy voters and just good Hollywood friends, from Colleen Camp and Candy Clark to director Charles Shyer, songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren hanging with super agent Risa Shapiro, , publicist Nancy Ryder, and her talented actor client James Badge Dale. (We have a story running about him on Monday on this site.)
Still the best thing I saw all night was Sacha Baron Cohen, there for “The Dictator,” meeting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. All they want is a picture with a star. I was happy to see them since many were rumored deceased a long time ago.
“Some of them are,” joked one actor who winced as each one approached with a camera in hand.
Cohen shook each hand and listened attentively to their accents. He even spoke a little Egyptian to one member who didn’t care–he just wanted that photo.
This is Hollywood, kids.
Connie Steven is 74! She just directed her first movie, and it’s opening in New York and Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks. Joely Fisher is very funny. She and Carrie Fisher, half sisters, have very good senses of humor.
“We had good mothers,” Joely said. Their father was Eddie Fisher, who was featured in the Lindsay Lohan TV movie “Liz and Dick” this week.
“Did any of you see it?” I asked. There was a mixed response of yes, no, a little, and someone who said, “What happened to Lindsay Lohan’s face?”
Someone else said, “I liked it,” and there was a lot of guffawing.
PS Everyone is discussing going to screenings or watching their DVDs. It’s Hollywood’s annual homework assignment. Many mentioned Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln, and Sally Field. One well known successful director told me how much he loved David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” I don’t think it’s fair to give his name. He said, “It’s a great movie. It will win the Oscar.” Wow.
Stay tuned: tomorrow night is the Governor’s Ball for the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Oscars. Jeffrey Katzenberg, DA Pennebaker, George Stevens Jr, and Hal Needham are being honored. Everyone in town is going. It’s a hot ticket in Hollywood. Sherry Yard is making the desserts. Game on.