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It Just Isn't Fair

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By William Booth and Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25

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If nature abhors a vacuum (not that anyone in this town knows what a vacuum is), does Hollywood abhor the absence of a Vanity Fair Oscars party? Oh, stop the whining. So what if it feels like a school night? We're still crashing, whatever we can, however we can. Party reporters can't spell "pride."

The Governors Ball is held in a mall, we discover. It is at the Kodak Theatre, but not in the Kodak Theatre. So there is no valet. Instead the guests arrive by . . . escalator. At the entrance, a rope line of photographers, but no fans, no screaming, no wop-wop of papacopters overhead. We are disoriented.

Inside the ballroom hung with bubble lights, people are sitting at the tables . . . eating. We cannot believe our eyeballs. You do not go to an Oscar party with George Clooney and Diablo Cody to eat. Food. Oh, let's see, I'll start with the root vegetables, please. Not on our watch. But wait staff are rushing by holding aloft platters of -- we are not hallucinating -- baked potatoes. It doesn't matter that they are Yukons wrapped in gold foil by Wolfgang Puck's own paws. It's still wrong.

We are relieved to see that Marion Cotillard is not dining, either, because she is standing there emitting positrons, her Oscar held tight, squealing into a cellphone in French. Talk about the city of angels.

Hello to Jon Stewart, who's working the room like a U.N. messenger of peace in Chad. Reaching, touching, nodding. Mr. Empathy. We pip: Well done, bro! "I think it was fun -- was it?" Stewart says. We have no idea. Perhaps the host can review his performance on YouTube. "No, I don't think so. No, that won't happen," he says. "No."

We bump into the kid from "Superbad" at the bar, Jonah Hill, and wonder, aren't you in high school? But apparently, he's like 24, and is asking the bartender all these detailed questions about his vodka choices. And speaking of children, there are children here. Why? Some of them are running around in little tuxedos. The vibe: your cousin Brian's wedding. Hey, Uncle Donny, try the ham.

The Reitman Mega Family has commandeered a table in the center of the room; there's father Ivan "Ghostbusters" Reitman and, hiding somewhere, Jason "Juno" Reitman. Says the elder: "I've lost my son." We do our best Daniel Plainview/Daniel Day-Lewis imitation: "You've abandoned your boy. You've abandoned your boy." Ivan looks at us, and he has these wonderful buckteeth, quite the curious beaver, and he says, "What?"

We find Jason down on his knees beside the chair of his Best Original Screenwriter, Diablo Cody, and they're sharing a very private moment, and while they're sharing a private moment, we are comfortable staring at the tattoo on her shoulder, which is a pinup girl in a red bikini. We get out a crisp $20 bill and . . .

Blocked by Julian Schnabel. Everywhere we turn. Like a fullback for the MoMA Abstractionists. The painter and the director of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is saying, "I'm always painting. Even when I'm not painting." We scribble even when we're not scribbling.

Clooney attends. Crowd parts. His tie is off, shirt open, we're looking for his girlfriend, Sarah Larson, but where is the shy minx? Schools of pretty women in colored gowns circle The Clooney like hungry reef fish.


CONTINUED     1              >


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