Normally during the week preceding the Oscars, L.A. would be awash in champagne-soaked pre-Oscars parties, as people scrambled and called in favors for coveted invites to those Oscars-night soirees. Of course, there hasn’t been anything normal about the past 13 months, but as the Academy prepares for a largely in-person, mask-free ceremony—held live at both Union Station and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood—physical fêtes are still mostly illusive as party planners say “safety first” and go the virtual route.
On Thursday, April 22, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which are usually broadcast live from a hangar in Santa Monica the Saturday afternoon before the Oscars, will be a two-hour virtual ceremony this year, broadcast live on IFC and AMC+ and hosted by Saturday Night Live‘s Melissa Villasenor. The budget cap for what’s considered “indie” is $22 million, which leaves out most of the Oscar nominated films, except for Best Picture Oscar nominee Sound of Metal is nominated for Best First Feature. Academy-snubbed coming-of-age drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always appears to be the movie to watch.
For many years, Chanel has thrown one of the more glamorous pre-Oscars parties: a Saturday night dinner hosted by British producer Charles Finch and held at Beverly Hills institution Madeo then, more recently, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Of course that won’t be happening, but according to Variety, the French fashion house is still celebrating on Saturday, April 24, by sending 150 VIPs a Chanel gift box filled with goodies for their own at-home viewing soirees, and will make a donation to the Actors Fund for COVID relief efforts.
Also on Saturday, there’s the Night Before benefit for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, an event that raises tons of money and is always the most star-studded Oscars week affair. This year’s benefit will be uber-private, virtual, and hosted by Wayne Brady. There will still be performances by LeAnne Rimes, El DeBarge, and others, and 12-time Oscar-nominated song writer Diane Warren will highlight some of her memorable nominated songs. Right now, nominee Gary Oldman is confirmed, but you can bet many of those who usually attend the Chanel dinner will be on hand, direct from their living rooms.
On Oscars Sunday, Jeff Klein’s Sunset Tower hotel and Tower Lounge restaurant are always popular with celebs, serving as the site of the annual Vanity Fair post-Oscars party for many years. While Sunset Tower can’t host a huge fête this year, owner Klein is inviting winners to come in for a comped dinner after the show, in lieu of the Governor’s Ball—if they bring a statuette or two. The no-photo policy will be disbanded for the night, so keep an eye on Instagram. (FYI, the public can also book dinner tables and rooms, if a small group of four would like to throw a COVID-safe viewing party with popcorn, movie candy, and champagne.)
Also on Sunday, in its 29th year, Elton John and David Furnish’s AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Pre-Party goes virtual with Neil Patrick Harris as host and Dua Lipa as musical guest. “This year, we are bringing our Oscar Party into people’s homes for the first time virtually for an unforgettable evening with David (Furnish), myself, our dear friend Neil Patrick Harris and the incredible Dua Lipa plus many fabulous surprise names,” John says. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that one pandemic does not override another, and we cannot forget the 38 million people living with HIV globally who need our care, love and support so we hope everyone joins us for this special one-of-a-kind Oscar Pre-Party.”
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