Oscar parties run the gamut from the one you host in your living room in front of TV to the beg-all-you-want-but-you-ain’t-getting-in Vanity Fair shindig.
Among the viewing parties around town, meaning those that take place during the telecast and end when it ends, only two long-standing red-carpet bashes hold forth. One is Elton John’s AIDS Foundation party, which is more about raising money and awareness than drawing celebrities.
The other belongs to former music and sports agent Norby Walters, which is the 25th annual Night of 100 Stars. Now that one is about seeing and being seen.
Of course, far more than 100 stars turn out of this elaborate affair. Walters’ poker night friends alone, all actors, push the number to 40 or 50. Then after all the stars’ publicists and managers have lobbied for tickets, the number can climb close to 200.
“All actors who are not going to the Oscar show, who aren’t nominated or presenting Oscars, need a place to go and party also,” said Walters in the frantic few days leading up to his 2015 bash.
Generally speaking veteran actors from stage, screen and television plus a few politicians, musicians and sports figures show up. Past attendees have included Jon Voight, Ed Asner, Jon Favreau, Richard Dreyfuss, Laura Dern, Chevy Chase, Cloris Leachman, Garry Marshall, Larry King, Anne Heche, Gloria Allred, Jason Ritter, Martin Landau and Shirley Jones.
Walters, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., owned several nightclubs in New York, then moved on to a second career as a booking agent for bands. He wound up representing some of the better-known entertainers in the business, mostly black, including Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, Kool and the Gang, Ben Vereen and Miles Davis. He later became a sports agent.
The 25-year-old party is entering “new territory,” according to its long-time publicist, Edward Lozzi. After fifteen years at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Walter reluctantly moved the party this year to the Beverly Hilton.
The on-going boycott of the Beverly Hills by human rights activists due to the Sultan of Brunei’s ownership stake has made many celebrities afraid to attend events at that hotel. (Last year the Sultan announced plans to implement Sharia law including persecution of homosexuals in his country’s complex legal system.)
The good news though is that Walters can accommodate more celebs into the International Ballroom, a much larger space than the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. About 800 people are expected to attend Sunday night.
The bash will cost about $250,000 which includes dinner and an open bar. Walters offsets some of the costs by selling $1,000 tickets to non-celebrities and bringing in sponsors such as billionaire Peter Nygard, founder and chairman of the clothing design/manufacturing concern Nygard International, who will act as executive producer.
Another added spice this year is the fact Walter’s son, Gary Michael Walters, is a producer of “Whiplash,” nominated for five Oscars including best picture and best supporting actor, J.K. Simmons, who is generally expected to win.
Usually best supporting actors get announced early in the telecast, which is a good thing since later in the evening things can start getting “rowdy,” laughs Lozzi.
This is the time of the night when serious Oscar watchers, usually Academy members who actually voted on the awards, are glued to TV monitors, fighting the noise levels caused by the ever-present ingenues and their dates who want to drink and talk. Or else “someone is hitting on another guy’s wife,” mused Lozzi.
“You have to put out a fire at the time but later you realize it’s hilarious.”
Bet that doesn’t happen in your living room.