I can never go to more than one party when the Oscars are on. It would be my luck that while driving to the second one, I'd miss a famous moment like the streaker who ran across the stage, or when Brando had that little Indian girl pick up his award. During the Super Bowl, it's easy, because the halftime show always sucks. I never mind driving to a second party at halftime. The day before the Oscars, there was a party at Caffe Calabria in North Park, put on by Ken and Chris Calloway for the fourth straight year and attended by many of the folks who run the San Diego Film Festival. They had a red carpet out front, velvet ropes, and a large statue by the door. It wasn't an Oscar. It was a woman. Chris explained, "It's Oscar's girlfriend, Eve. This party is the night before the Oscars, but we call her Oscar's Eve."
Inside near the entrance stood this great backdrop of a car with a moving background in the windows. A cameraman was filming and a sound person held a boom mike, and they let people do a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was fun to watch couples doing this.
The first person I talked to was Wally Schlotter. He's the chairman of the film festival and told me about events they have, the biggest being the San Diego Film Festival in late September. He was wearing his sunglasses, which made him look very Hollywood. We agreed on all the movies that came out this year, on which ones were great and which ones sucked. The only debate was about Million Dollar Baby. He loved it, and I thought it was the most overrated film of the year. And Clint Eastwood getting nominated for an acting Oscar, when this is the same character I've seen him play for 30 years, is ridiculous. Chris walked by and said, "That's what is great about this party. We can talk about all those movies that were nominated. During the Oscars nobody talks, because they are watching the show and listening to the winners."
Wally told me a story about how Jeff Bridges was going to come to an event they put on. The festival was going to give Bridges an actor as humanitarian award. When the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park displayed all his photos, he went to that event instead. Wally told me how the event Bridges had done for almost 20 years is called the "No Show Ball." The invitations Bridges sends out say that you can help end world hunger, with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated. The invite states, "Because you won't have to eat rubber chicken and listen to boring speeches or put up with silly skits, send $100. Because you don't have to rent a tux or a limo, send $250. You won't have to buy your wife a new evening gown, send $300." Bridges lists all different reasons why you should send more money, including $50,000, since you can sit at home in a T-shirt watching television and leave your Learjet in the hangar.
Wally introduced me to Karl Kozak, who had some interesting stories to tell me about the film festival. Reader critic Duncan Shepherd mentioned recently that San Diego didn't need another film festival, but Karl explained that their festival takes all films. It's not for just Latino films or Jewish films or gay films.
His wife Robin was pregnant, and I asked if she had any names picked out. She said "Brooklyn" since it has letters from her and her husband's names. I said, "What about Brooke? That has the same letters." I think Wally and I then started talking about actresses who have given their babies funky names. (Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter Apple are the only example I can think of at the moment.) I think that was our subtle way of saying we didn't care much for the name Brooklyn.
An Italian woman came up to me and with her thick accent commented on my Jack Nicholson shirt, which showed his face coming through the door from The Shining. She told me she loved Nicholson, especially in As Good as It Gets. I told her that movie was good, but I never bought the relationship with him and Helen Hunt. She said, "But I loved all his disorders and the way he walked down the street trying not to step on certain things. I actually know people like that."
When a few limos pulled up for this party, it started to look like the real Oscars. I went to the door to take a photo of a couple dressed up. The man was wearing a tux, and his blonde date had a sexy gold dress. I said something to them as I took their photo. She responded, "My stomach is so sore from modeling all day." I responded, "My stomach is sore from eating all day."
After the third person I saw in a tuxedo, I thought that if you owned one, this was the perfect event to wear it to. How often do you get the opportunity to wear a tux? Aside from senior prom and some friends' weddings 15 years ago, I haven't had the need for one.
There were a few guys with fedoras, with the word PRESS on the side, taking photos as people came in. It was a great re-creation of old Hollywood.
One woman walked by, and I told someone that she looked exactly like Joan Rivers. He responded, "Yeah, and she probably thinks she looks like Joan Collins."
There were ballots on which you could pick the Oscar winners. And there were lots of prizes, including movie tickets and a giant framed picture of an Oscar.
I saw a guy who I thought was an old friend of mine. When I said my friend's name, the guy looked at me and walked away. I realized it wasn't him. This guy was Devin Scott, and he had a film that has won awards at various film festivals. It was called The $5 Movie, and it was hysterical. A room had been set up with 25 seats to show some films. The $5 Movie starts with a six-year-old kid doing a home movie with his parents. The father was newscaster Loren Nancarrow. It was a blast watching this little kid direct, then watching as he got older. He went from film school doing the same film (in an arty way), to big-time Hollywood (where he yelled at assistants and demanded coffee), to doing the same film porn-style in the back of a limo. I told him later, "I've never seen anyone get more out of Loren Nancarrow in my life."