There is a scene in Ignorant that finds Alicia Silverstone’s Cher dealing with a surprise phone call from her father, Mel Horowitz, played by the late and great Dan Hedaya, who wants her home immediately. “I expect you to walk through this door in 20 minutes,” he demands, a tall order since Cher is a party in the Valley and a long way from home in 90210. “Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes.”
That line manages to creep into many LA conversations, and it was perhaps never more true than during the early pandemic, when the streets were pretty empty and the freeways more so. Those days are over and the city is more congested than ever, especially on an Oscar weekend like the one we just had with a staggering number of parties. Things are so back to normal that people everywhere said it felt like “the past”, like 2020.
One of the marquee events is back Vanity Fair’s star-studded gathering on Sunday night, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Radhika Jones in a custom structure adjacent to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. To be clear, there were no traffic problems on the way to the after-party – unless we count the security guard who insulted this reporter’s Toyota Prius by remarking that it is “a low rental car to drive to this kind of party” – it was only upon arrival the gravity of the situation showed itself courtesy of a much more lovable security officer. Quick, someone alert Mel Horowitz. “It will take you 30 minutes to get to the red carpet from here,” the gentleman explained to a line teeming with celebrities, filmmakers, supermodels and (gasp!) Oscar nominees who came up empty-handed. “Would anyone like to skip the red carpet and go straight into the party?”
He might as well have asked for a show of hands for anyone currently on Ozempic. To borrow another Ignorant line: “As if!“It was dead quiet, except for one brave actress who took it upon herself to answer for everyone. “Hell no!” shouted Girls star Jemima Kirke, between drags on a cigarette and surrounded by the likes of Riz Ahmed (also a Girls alum) and pop stars Troye Sivan and Charli XCX. Ahmed, already in possession of an Oscar, ended a FaceTime call and focused his attention on the massive queue by exclaiming, “This is quite a situation.”
Thats it. Being forced to queue is one thing, but being asked to skip the red carpet is another. The possibility to make a cameo on Vanity Fair’s iconic red carpet — like the Oscars, this one is not red, but instead of champagne, VF rolling out 125 feet of “sapphire blue” against an illuminated 10-foot-tall photo backdrop wall—an opportunity that big names don’t easily miss. Especially if there is skin to show, relationships to debut, fashion contracts to fulfill or a new project to promote. It’s a party!
Ahmed did not like the situation for long as he and a group of male friends cut the line and moved forward, passing nominated stars such as Hong Chau, Kerry Condon, Paul Dano and Paul Mescal who were patiently waiting their turn. Also the presenter Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckinsale, Alessandra Ambrosio (in a barely-there appearance) and Pose star Michaela Jae Rodriguez, who was ready to, well, pose after helping Elton John raise $9 million for his Oscar party.
She also came with her manners. Suddenly there was commotion at the back of the queue and a group of guests arrived with Oscars and it didn’t take long to recognize the gang from Everything everywhere at onceincluding directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, producer Jonathan Wang and Harry Shum Jr. There were many more, enough to fill a party bus, on which they blasted Queen’s “We Are the Champions” on the way over.
Rodriguez was the first reveler in line to graciously step back, open a path and literally play with her arms welcoming them. “Oscar winners come through,” she said as Kwan, Scheinert and Wang passed. They offered gratitude and Scheinert a concession. “I just go where people tell me to go, but I just hope there’s a bathroom in there because I really have to go,” Scheinert said.
Meanwhile, Kirke, still waiting to land on the step-and-repeat, seemed to enjoy the wait by catching up with other actors, including nominee Austin Butler, who arrived arm-in-arm with Kaia Gerber. Kirke relayed the “situation” to Butler, who explained that he encountered a similar scenario at the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards. “I wish I could be the person who skips the red carpet,” Kirke told a Saint Laurent-clad Butler, “but I’m not.”
It was far less of a situation for anyone who had an Oscar. Or if you played Lydia Tár. Cate Blanchett, flanked by her longtime CAA representative Hylda Queally, floated her way to the front row, followed by her director Todd Field, a number of publicists and Salma Hayek.
“You are a God,” White Lotus star Sabrina Impacciatore said to Blanchett as she strolled by, proving she was the opposite of unfazed by the scene. While some tried to keep a low profile while leaping forward, the same cannot be said for all. An older woman sporting a gray bob and a flowing skirt shouted to the waiting stars, “I need you all to move to clear a path!”
Impacciatore didn’t quite hear the orders and immediately jumped, so the woman brushed her aside, so Warner Bros. Discover CEO David Zaslav could pass through. If he recognized her as one of the stars of an Emmy-winning phenomenon from his own company on HBO Max, it did not show.
Speaking of family, at that moment, the cast of Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelman family arrived together, including Judd Hirsch and Gabriel LaBelle. The latter, who plays a young Spielberg in the film, introduced his mother to guests in line, while Hirsch must have felt he had to apologize for cutting in front. “I’m innocent,” he explained, later asking Rodriguez what she’s working on and if she could get him a job on the second season of the Apple TV+ comedy Plunder opposite Maya Rudolph.
The crowd may have felt like they hit the jackpot when the blue carpet finally appeared. After 30 minutes the entrance was finally in sight. Still, Antonio Banderas had enough and rushed past the photographers without waiting for his picture to be taken. Strangely enough, the bold ones received a big round of applause from those who were still waiting. “Everybody here thinks they’re somebody,” one celebratory hissed. Without getting too philosophical – isn’t everyone somebody? — it is important to find out who is the most important body in the room. When THR asked several guests, the same answer kept repeating: Justin Bieber.
Even with Jeff Bezos, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, WME’s Richard Weitz, TV’s man of the moment (and Internet’s sweetheart) Pedro Pascal, pop superstars Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, Halsey and Shawn Mendes, Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Ruth E. Carter instead, the Biebs had buzz. “He looks mad,” reported one attendee. “And he’s wearing a blanket.”
It should also be noted that in addition to being warm and cozy, Bieber was among those who actually skipped the carpet and went straight into the party. His wife, Hailey Bieber, hit the blue carpet for photos, as did model friends like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Eva Herzigova, Amber Valletta and more.
There were no carpet photos of Mendes with rumored girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter, but they appeared to be a couple inside the party. THR spotted them side by side most of the evening. He even introduced Carpenter to fellow singer Giveon near the neon lights spelling out Vanity Fair. Right in front of them, the one Everything everywhere at once team had already set up shop at a section of tables, where Wang was munching on an In-N-Out burger, a Vanity Fair party booklet that was delivered by servers who really seemed to be everywhere at once inside the party.
Inside the central round DJ booth and bar, presented by Richard Mille, there were only a handful of people close to 12 midnight, not a good sign for a dance floor that just last year hosted hundreds, while Will Smith, fresh from to beat Chris Rock at Oscars, danced up a storm to some of his biggest rap hits. Although it is not good or bad, the energy of this year Vanity Fair the party was noticeably different, perhaps a bit more mellow than previous years. The night also had stiff competition on the after-party circuit due to events hosted by Jay-Z and Beyonce, Guy Oseary and Madonna, and best picture winners A24.
Elsewhere, Darren Aronofsky fist bumped Universal chief Donna Langley; Academy President Janet Yang smoked cigarettes on the patio near the pizza bar (with dough by Evan Funke); Heidi Klum and husband Tom Kaulitz snacked on pizza before smoking; “It Boy” model Evan Mock took photos in the yard; Zooey Deschanel walked around barefoot clutching her sparkly stilettos in one hand and a burger in the other; producer Jamie Patricof spoke with Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce (among the many superstar athletes at the party such as Russell Westbrook, Odell Beckham Jr., Draymond Green, Rich Paul and Russell Wilson); Seth Rogen, Aziz Ansari and Andrew Garfield got together for an extended conversation; Noah Centineo took a break from chatting with a solo Megan Fox to give a “Hi, baby” to Lana Condor, his To all the boys I’ve loved before co-star; and James Corden joined the chorus of revelers wishing James Martin a happy birthday. (A member of the Oscar-winning team from An Irish FarewellMartin turned 31 on Sunday and was serenaded by the Dolby Theater crowd.)
As the clock got closer to 1:30am, the DJ cut off play on a remix The white lotus theme song. The show’s stars Impacciatore, Adam DiMarco, Beatrice Granno and Simona Tabasco were surely still there in some corner. “I think that’s our bid to go,” said a guest, sounding sensible enough to head for the door. Billie Eilish also happened to leave then, holding hands with Jesse Rutherford. Before they reached the line of waiting SUVs, actress Eiza Gonzalez shouted a compliment to Eilish: “I wore your perfume today! I wore your perfume today! I sprayed it all over my breasts!”
Eilish laughed and the subject quickly turned to the night’s next destination. Host Jimmy Kimmel appeared to call it quits as he waited his turn next to wife Molly McInerney. Michelle Yeoh and her manager David Unger hopped on a party bus and said they were heading to A24’s bash at Soho House, while Usher left in favor of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Gold Party. Yeoh’s Oscar-nominated co-star Stephanie Hsu stood near the center of the sidewalk with a big smile. After changing from the hot pink strapless Valentino dress she wore to the Oscars into a sparkling silver mini dress, Hsu confirmed the night was still young. “I just started.” Hoping that wherever she went, it only took 20 minutes.