Why? Because the organization makes millions every year on the Golden Globe Awards, and needs to give some of that money--this year a record $1.5 million--to worthy recipients such as New York University, Film Independent, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Outfest, Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, and the American Cinematheque. I'm glad they do. And I was happy to eat yummy fish and clap my eyes on the likes of Taylor Lautner (surrounded by such adoring fans as Lea Michele and Elizabeth Olsen). The big laugh of the day was Mark Wahlberg telling his The Departed co-star Leonardo DiCaprio that Lautner's in better shape than either of them. "We're out of a job," he said.
Gerard Butler, looking very svelte for a new role in Curtis Hanson's surfer film Mavericks, told me that his career is always twisting and turning. After doing a lot of action films after 300, he headed toward comedies, and then wanted to exercise his acting chops again in Machine Gun Preacher and Coriolanus, which will both play Toronto. Now he's heading back toward big-budget action, he said. His 2012 releases are Gabriele Mucchino's family soccer drama Playing the Field, co-starring Jessica Biel and Dennis Quaid, and Movie 43, which stars every working SAG actor on the planet, basically.
Also attending were Jessica Chastain and husky-voiced Shohreh Aghdashloo, both wearing royal blue, Jim Sturgess in a close-cropped haircut, Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss (in a dowdy dress), Kevin Bacon, Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh, Fox's Peter Rice and X-Japan star Yoshiki Hayashi, who charmed the room with his heavily-accented English. He hopes to land some gigs composing film scores.
The new head of the HFPA, Dr. Aida Takla O’ Reilly, told the guests: "Thanks to many of you sitting in this room today, the Association has been able to give back over 1.5 million dollars to the most deserving entertainment-related charities, foundations, and scholarship programs. After today’s festivities, we can proudly say our organization has donated more than 13.5 million dollars over the past 17 years through our grants program."