Tuesday, February 26, 2013

After the Oscars are over ...

William Randolph Hearst, Winston Churchill and Louis B. Mayer on the MGM studio lot in 1930.
After the Oscars are over, the stars and their friends – agents, producers, director, other stars who weren’t nominated, their wives, husbands, lovers, friends, shrinks, hairdressers – go to a party.

This isn’t news. Elton John has one every year now that begins when the ceremonies begin. The most famous one is the Vanity Fair party that was held this year at Sunset Tower Hotel, although for years and years, it was held at Morton’s.

The Academy Awards was the creation of Louis B. Mayer and his associates in the late 1920s when Mayer’s studio – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer – was new. Indeed the entire American film industry was barely a couple decades old. The intention was political and motivational, and ultimately economic. They weren’t called moguls for nothing.

In the early days, it was like a family banquet. The first was held in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. They sold tickets to it – five bucks per.  The studios sent their people – stars, directors, executives, etc. – everyone had their tables. The actual awards were handed out in fifteen minutes. No entertainment, just the cheerleaders (the budding moguls).
Louis B. Mayer presenting Helen Hayes her 1932 Oscar for Best Actress in The Sin of Madelon Claudet. Irving Thalberg and his wife Norma Shearer and Louis B. Mayer on the MGM lot in Culver City.
The following year, 1930, it was broadcast for an hour on the radio. I’m not sure if that was “coast-to-coast” because that was also a new phenomenon. Attendance was becoming de rigueur. This was in the days of the studios when the stars were owned by the studios and did as they were told, at least when it came to business. Radio and the newspapers gave the Academy its first real public recognition. The film industry was off to the races.

In 1930, almost 80 million Americans – 65% of the population, went to the movies every week. A much much greater percentage than today. By the 1940s, the Oscars show was famous and broadcast coast-to-coast. The ceremonies grew in length and production and was held in the Pantages Theater. There was still an Academy dinner afterwards. Black tie. Attendance expected.
Swifty with Elizabeth Taylor at his party.
In 1964, an little tyke of an impeccably dressed – bespoke suit, shirt, tie and shoes – agent named Irving Lazar, with a little round bald head and great big black horned rimmed specs, had his own party, which he hosted with his beautiful young wife Mary (he married her because she looked like Audrey Wilder).

Their first venue was the Bistro restaurant in Beverly Hills – owned by Kurt Niklaus and a bevy of Hollywood names who backed him.
Clockwise from left: Lazar with Joan Collins; Diana Ross; and Candice and Frances Bergen.
Lazar, Taylor, and Nicholson.
I don’t know where Irving Lazar got the idea to give this party but it was very good for business. His business as well as the business of others. It was also known to be a lot of fun – not something that can be said about a lot of “famous parties.”

Known far and wide as “Swifty” – a name given to him by Humphrey Bogart after he quickly put together a three picture deal for the star – Lazar decided to use the night as a social source. It was a natural for him and his pursuits but it was also brilliant. Rich, famous, important people made up the guestlist. Titled Euros, tycoons, New York society people, New York fashion people and no press.

Michael Jackson and Madonna arriving.
No press except Aileen Mehle as “Suzy” and someone from John Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily.

Those last two names made the most important contribution to the success of Irving and Mary Lazar’s Oscar party. That was the official stamp of approval. All media picked up on it. Everybody who was anybody in the whole wide world wanted to be there.  Knowing everybody who was anybody was Irving Lazar’s ultimate destination. He had arrived. The party became famous but more importantly, famous among the famous.

Invitations were hard to get. The restaurant held only a few hundred, and there were fire laws. That gave the party more heft. And there had to be room for the really big stars who just might show up when they felt like it. The Lazars became social arbiters, too.

It became the most sought after destination for people going to the Oscars and their friends. The Lazars’ guests came from far and wide for the big night at Spago. Paparazzi appeared. Real royalty, Hollywood royalty, huckster royalty, rock stars, European aristos, bankers, fashion designers and tycoons rubbing elbows and blowing air kisses (and god knows what else) while dining on Wolfgang Puck’s then newest-hippest California cuisine.
Wolfgang Puck in his restaurant with some of the menu for the Lazar party.
Irving Lazar died in 1993 at the age of 86. His beautiful young wife Mary had died the same year tragically of spinal meningitis at 61. Their deaths marked a sudden transition in Hollywood life. The newly self-annointed had arrived overnight. Hooray for Hollywood.

Vanity Fair picked up the torch of celebrity, 21st Century American style, retaining some of the “social prestige” of the Lazar party, and in a popular upscale hip restaurant. But under Graydon Carter’s aegis, it retains a kind of exclusivity – you have to be invited – but media is everywhere, because, after all, media is everywhere, and for some people everything. They all came out. And the indefatigable Patrick McMullan captured them all.

I wasn’t there, have never been, but I am certain it was a great party, if for no other reason than people never get tired of people watching; and if you wanna people-watch Hollywood, this is most definitely the last word and the best chance of the year. And that’s fun. — DPC
Irina Shayk
Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez
Emmy Rossum
Livia Firth
Carol Scwartz and Scott Glenn
Jeremy Renner
Molly Sims
Juliette Lewis
Rosemary DeWitt and Ron Livingston
Brad Grey and Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey
Adam Shulman and Anne Hathaway
Maria Sharapova
Karolina Kurkova
Allyson Felix
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Malik Bendjelloul
Adrian Brody
Daniel Day-Lewis
Dennis Haysbert
Dame Shirley Bassey
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness
Julie Yaeger and Paul Rudd
Jason Statham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks
Andrew Saffir and Daniel Benedict
Tom Hooper
Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Sally Field and Samuel Greisman
Jon Voight and Tommy Lee Jones
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum
Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw
Haley Bennett
Jessica Lowndes
Juno Temple
Portia Rebecca and Peter Fonda
Steven Tyler
Josh Hartnett
Fan Bing Bing
Lily Rabe
Li Bing Bing
Donna Karen
Summer Phoenix and Casey Affleck
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Olivia Munn
Paz Vega
Carolyn Murphy
Ginnifer Goodwin
Jacki Weaver
Jean Dujardin
Ben Affleck
Cristoph Waltz
Jane Lynch
Gabby Douglas
Sandra Bullock
Kristin Chenowith
Corrine Bishop and Jamie Foxx
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
Len Weisman and Kate Beckinsale
Marisa Tomei
Kerry Washington
Chanel Iman
Mamie Gummer
Alessandra Ambrosio
Halle Berry
Bo Derek
Naomi Campbell
Bradley Cooper and Gloria Cooper
Sunrise Coigney and Mark Ruffalo
Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber
Jennifer Lawrence
Zoe Saldana
Minnie Driver
Hannah Bagshawe and Eddie Redmayne
Vera Wang and Hilary Swank
Michael Strahan and Nicole Murphy
Franois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek
Nancy O'Dell
Chelsea Handler
Jennifer Hudson
Amy Adams
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Lucila Sola and Eli Roth
Martin Landau and Barbara Bain
Miranda Kerr
Greta Gerwig
Amy Poehler
Rashida Jones
Zooey Deschanel and Jamie Linden
Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom
Jerry Jones and Gene Jones
Julie Bowen
Rupert and Wendi Murdoch
Rose Byrne
Jennifer Garner
Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller
George Hamilton
David Steinberg and Robyn Steinberg
Leslie Mann
Kelly Lynch
Patricia Clarkson
Joan Collins
Robert Daly and Carole Bayer Sager
Justin Mikita and Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Julie Chen and Leslie Moonves
Mavis Leno and Jay Leno
Judd Apatow
George Schlatter and Jolene Schlatter
Tom Ford
Martin Short
Catherine O'Hara
Fran Lebowitz
Lauren Miller and Seth Rogen
Danna Ruscha and Edward Ruscha
Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams
Jackie Collins
Tory Burch
Anna Carter
Reese Witherspoon
Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt
Kirk Douglas and Anne Douglas
Cheryl Howard and Ron Howard
Jimmy Buffett and Janie Buffett
Brett Ratner, Bruce Weber, and Nan Bush
Amanda Santos and Rick Ruben
Lily Collins
Isla Fisher
Alina Cho
Elizabeth Banks
Lydia Andrich and Robbie Robertson
Alison Hewson and Bono
Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka
Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola
Courtney Crangi and Jenna Lyons
Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied
Allison Williams
Jane Fonda
Danny Huston
Rosamund Pike
Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson
John Leguizamo and Justine Maurer
Paula Patton and Robin Thicke

Photographs by Patrick McMullan.