Only a man like Norby Walters can draw such a diverse group of VIPs to the Beverly Hills Hotel on Oscar night.
In lieu of limos, the car du jour that lined the path to the famed Pink Palace was the black Suburban. Palm trees encased the entrance to Night of 100 Stars, the place to be for old-time Hollywood glam. It was tough to tell if there was more bling on the well-heeled guests or on the chandeliers in the hotel. Former Oscar nominees and winners Diane Ladd, Martin Landau, and Piper Laurie were among the many guests.
Celebrity Apprentice’s Lou Ferrigno compared notes with former The Apprentice contestant Gary Busey. Anne Jeffries, Alan Thicke, Joanna Cassidy, Dee Wallace, and Dan Lauria were early arrivals.
Champagne flowed during the cocktail party in the room adjacent to the Crystal Ballroom. There were several televisions for guests interested in the televised red carpet at the Hollywood and Highland Center. In the house: John O’Hurley, John Savage, Dr. Mark Mani, Sharon Lawrence, Dolph Lundgren, Susan Blakely, and Bruce Boxleitner. Relaxing on the patio, Patrick Warburton, Chris McDonald, and Joely Fisher.
The Ballroom seats 300 and we were happy to score two rare seats at Table 10. Our dinner mates included actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who was very passionate about film and recounted tales of her experiences. While The Artist is currently enjoying all the accolades, she coincidentally produced and starred in a film she got going five years ago which is black and white and a tribute to the silent film era. And what a cast! It includes herself, Debra Messing, Jennifer Tilly, Debi Mazar, Ione Skye, and Tippi Hedren. (Her new Timmy Woods purse was designed like a pair of red lips.)
Guests watched the awards from 11 large TV screens while dinner was served. The menu included a Tutti Fruttie Salad, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, and a chocolate brownie with strawberries. But typically, some stars ignored the cuisine and had a schmooze and photo fest.
While most wore elegant gowns, there were a few outfits that drew stares. Fashion-wise, there was a Lady Gaga look-alike, the usual skimpy dresses, and results of new procedures in plastic surgery.
We asked Shelley Morrison her thoughts on The Help since she knows a thing or two about playing a maid (Rosario on Will & Grace). “It was wonderful and made the statement that it needed to make.” Shelley’s been asked recently to play a maid again: “I tell them I’m unavailable. I’ve done it with a delicious cast on an innovative show. I want a maid; I don’t want to play a maid!” She and her husband are currently producing documentaries, something dear to their heart.
Even celebrities have to wait for their cars at the valet. During the wait, Robert Wuhl said, “I love Meryl Streep. There have been so many times I’ve wanted her to win. Tonight, I wanted Viola to win, and Meryl won. You never know with these things!”
When Martin Landau saw the mob scene, he knew he would not retrieve his car immediately. He said to his girlfriend, Gretchen, “Tell them it’s me!”
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her work has appeared in USA Today, on broadcasts and the web.