By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 23, 2008 at 7:14AM
It started on Thursday night, with the first round of parties. Due to the driving rain, New York-based IHOP PR chief Jeff Hill hosted his annual indie-confab inside the Avalon Hotel bar, rather than poolside. Sony Pictures Classics co-prexies Tom Bernard and Michael Barker, SKE marketing guru Bingham Ray, MPRM's Mark Pogachefsky, Michael Clayton Oscar-campaigner Michele Robertson and a good crowd relaxed in advance of their Oscar weekend labors.
Oddly, Paramount Vantage and Fox Searchlight hosted pre-Oscar celebrations at the same weeks-old restaurant, STK on La Cienega. They couldn't have been more different. The Vantage party Thursday night was packed with 500-odd souls, chowing down on a buffet dinner and jostling to pay their respects to Paramount's John Lesher and Nick Meyer and There Will Be Blood Oscar nominees Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson. PTA seemed in good spirits and told me he's been getting through this pre-Oscar craziness by focusing on finishing the extras on the There Will Be Blood DVD. He wasn't so pleased when the NYT's David Carr, aka The Carpetbagger, admitted that TWBB wasn't his favorite Oscar movie:
Mr. Anderson laughed for a while. And then he laughed a bunch more.
‚ÄúYou know you don‚Äôt know a thing about movies,‚Äù he said.
(David Carr confirms that there was a "f**king" in there. But the NYT frowns on such language.)
By contrast, Friday night's TSC Fox Searchlight affair was an intimate sit-down dinner party. Jason Reitman introduced me to Juno's on-screen Dad, J.K. Simmons. Ellen Page really is a diminutive waif. Diablo Cody was wearing a faux leopard-skin coat. Searchlight prexy Peter Rice whooped it up with The Savages writer-director Tamara Jenkins and writer hubby Jim Taylor (Sideways).
WMA's Cassian Elwes didn't go to Ari Emanuel's party Thursday night; his wife went instead. Instead he had a blast at Salma Hayek and pal Penelope Cruz's black-tie Night of Elysium party for about 200 at the Beverly Hills Hotel on a 40s theme, complete with a domino contest. Charlize Theron won.
I must take off to the Spirits and beyond. Will report and blog when able.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]