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Vanity Fair’s annual soiree at Mortons wouldn’t be complete without a little unusual fun. The tent like building set up by the party organizers was so full around 12:30 a.m. that I actually feared for my life. Just about everyone from the show was there, with some added extras coming and going: Madonna and Guy Ritchie were spotted, as were Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (“they stayed a minute,” someone said).
But it was more like 1:30 when Peter O’Toole, age 74, and his daughter got up and started disco dancing to the deejay. I believe the song was Madonna’s “Holiday.” O’Toole looks a little fragile himself, but he still cuts a mean rug. Paparazzi hustled over to shoot this moment, and I can only hope O’Toole – who was athletically twirling his partner – is all right today!
The Vanity Fair party quickly divided like a high school cafeteria into cliques. The main one – the cool one – was commandeered by Oprah Winfrey. She had BFF Gayle King, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Mary J. Blige, Suzanne De PassÃ©, and Kanye West in her inner circle, with appearances by Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Forest Whitaker and his knockout wife Keisha (best gown of the evening, selected by star stylist Philip Bloch), as well as Chris Tucker and his brother Darryl, not to mention two young beauties: Sanaa Lathan and Gabrielle Union.
Adjacent to Chez Oprah: the Al Gore contingent, where the former vice president took pictures with Jon Bon Jovi and Leonardo DiCaprio, and basically bathed in the limelight of winning an award no one will take away from him today! Immediately behind him: a whole conversation pit with Larry David, his wife Laurie (who co-produced the Gore doc), the “Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim and wife Elisabeth Shue, as well as producers Lawrence Bender and Scott Burns, who had the heavy task of escorting one of my favorite actresses, Radha Mitchell.
And then, for a while, there was just what seemed like chaos: Queen Latifah chatting with Macy Gray, and coordinating with Spike Lee to go see Prince’s show down at Teddy’s at the Roosevelt Hotel. (My friend Norah Lawlor quipped: “Is Prince is in the business of giving after parties now?” Answer: yes.) Rachel Griffiths and husband Andrew came by to say hello, while Troy Garity and fiancÃ©e Simone Bent talked about their upcoming September wedding.
Newly minted pop star James Blunt wandered by, having just performed across the street with Elton John at his annual AIDS fundraising bash. They did “Tiny Dancer.” How did it go, we wondered?
“I pulled it off!” he crowed.
Naomi Campbell strutted past. She wore a metal dress, designed by Azzedine Alaia, that was composed of gold ball bearings. It swayed and clanked. Someone said she came with Sean Penn. “Look at that!” a well known actress exclaimed. “She’s the only person in the world who can wear that dress!”
Just beyond, I ran into Kid Rock, who was hitting on a gorgeous maybe-Latina brunette. We talked about his loyalty to late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, to whose funeral in Turkey he flew. Listening to the story of Rock’s goodness, the brunette got a little closer.
“You don’t have to help me!” Rock said, with a sly smile. “I’m doing OK.” Will he be at Ertegun’s April 17th memorial in New York? “I AM the memorial!” he said. Rock – whose actual name is Bob Richie – for all of his celebrity persona, is aces.
More pop stars: the infinitesimally wonderful Aimee Mann and husband Michael Penn, perched on a settee in the middle of a crowd. I nearly stepped on them. “I’m on crutches,” Aimee said. “Foot surgery.” Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman surveyed the room, too. Suzanne Somers made her annual visit. The Band’s Robbie Robertson, record producer Richard Perry, James Taylor, Liv Tyler with husband Royston Langdon hung out with Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, Dixie Chick Natalie Maines worked the room with “Heroes” husband Adrian Pasdar, Bette Midler was spotted and several people swore they saw Prince in person, just fleetingly.
Mortons and Oscar: End of an Era?
You understand, dear readers, none of this is real. It’s just the Vanity Fair fantasy, and it may have been more than ever because this, sources say, was the last round up at Mortons after 13 years. The restaurant made famous for its Monday nights of stars and Hollywood execs is being evicted by its greedy landlord at the end of the year.
“He wants to put in retail shops,” a source told me. “He asked for triple the rent.” Apparently Peter Morton offered to buy the building outright, but his attempt was declined. Will Mortons relocate? It’s too early to say. But everyone in town is bidding for the party, including the Bev Hills Hotel, the Four Seasons and undoubtedly Wolfgang Puck.
So just to tell you a few more names of those who may be among the Departed (get it!): Martin Scorsese did his victory lap at Mortons last night, and there were appearances by Harvey Weinstein, Peter Saarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the aforementioned Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, Djimon Hounsou, Martin Landau, Gael Garcia Bernal, Guillermo del Toro, Adriana Barraza, Joy Bryant, Penelope Cruz, Kirsten Dunst, Jerry Seinfeld, Joey Pantaliano, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Craig, the immortal Fred Willard, Sidney Pollack, Sharon Stone, Brett Ratner, Victoria Posh Spice Beckham (she will not go away, sorry), Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Sean Combs, Ed Zwick, Vince Vaughn, Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet, Catherine O’Hara, Chloe Sevigny, Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon – separately – Jesse Bradford, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, James Franco, Faye Dunaway, Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer, Wyclef Jean, will.i.am, Eve, Melissa Etheridge, Michael C. Hall, and ”“ in an unlikely cameo –Leonard Cohen.
The parting shot: “Departed” screenplay winner William Monahan, standing by himself for a minute, holding his Oscar at one of the cocktail tables. Was he happy? You betcha. Was he overwhelmed? I guarantee it.