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Hollywood Preps for Biggest Parties

March 23, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Kevin Spacey sugar cookies are on order, the sculptured shrubbery is ready, and the limos, the cigars and the fortune-teller have been reserved for months.

It’s Oscar season in Tinseltown, and while much of the country speculates on who will win an Academy Award, Hollywood is also busy wondering who is throwing the biggest Oscar bash with the most stars _ and how to get in.

``My cousin Jimmy from Connecticut called,″ begging for a ticket, said Sid Ganis, chairman of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governor’s Ball, the swank industry event held right after the ceremony.

Nothing doing, cousin Jimmy.

In fact, unless Jimmy’s last name is Breslin or Smits, he may be out of luck Sunday. At many of the parties _ from the super-exclusive Dreamworks gala at Spago to Vanity Fair’s lavish Melrose Avenue bash _ only celebrities, Oscar winners and the really well-connected can get in.

``Everyone wants to see little gold statues at their party,″ said Brian Baldwin, who is planning a post-Oscar party for his boss, producer Ben Mathis, at the storied Argyle hotel on Sunset Boulevard. ``Some people don’t care what the category is, as long as they see statues.″

Civilians can sometimes buy their way in. Charity fund-raisers are part of how Hollywood celebrates its big night out.

``In the old days, Mary Pickford or Doug Fairbanks would open up their wallets and throw a party and everyone would have fun,″ Baldwin said. ``In Hollywood now, there’s this attitude like you can only have a party if you charge your guests.″

Elton John’s annual dinner and party to raise money for his AIDS foundation is always one of the hottest tickets in town. The price of admission: $1,500. The event raised more than $360,000 last year.

The bash, sponsored by InStyle magazine, will be held in a restaurant on Melrose Avenue across from the Vanity Fair party, where guests will be served cookies with frosted portraits of Oscar nominees.

InStyle’s Cyd Wilson isn’t worried about competing guest lists. ``There are enough celebrities in this town to go around,″ she said.

``Nobody has a party like this, nobody,″ bragged Norby Walters, who is organizing the Night of 100 Stars benefit for The Film Foundation at the Beverly Hills Hotel. ``If you’re not going downtown″ _ to the Academy Awards ceremony _ ``this is the No. 1 one place to be.″

The lucky few who make it into one of the big Oscar fetes will be treated to over-the-top decor, free-flowing booze and delicacies like candied walnuts and tuna tartare.

One party put on by a Web site has a fortune-teller in a cigar lounge. The first 1,000 guests at the Elton John party will get gift bags valued at $650 each. (Though that’s nothing compared with the gift baskets the Oscar presenters are getting. Those are worth up to $15,000 and include a baseball autographed by Joe Dimaggio and a Montblanc pen.)

Partygoers may have to fight for a decent set of wheels, though. Los Angeles limousine companies say their cars have been booked for three months.

Around Oscar time, ``we make ’em beg real hard,″ said Johne Baker, vice president of A-List Limos of Beverly Hills.


On the Net: Academy site: http://www.oscars.org