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Even with the end of the writers' strike, this Oscar season has seen fewer parties, fewer celebrities, and a general feeling that perhaps none of this actually matters. It's too bad, because the "work" — as they call it in Tinseltown — was great this year.
The main thing keeping the party circuit going has been corporate sponsorship. And all the product placement has become exhausting. At the umpteenth party for Patrick McMullan's book "Glamour Girls" on Tuesday night at the Sunset Tower hotel, a p.r. person for the sponsor, diamond company Leviev, actually went into the hotel's restaurant after the photographers had left and began collecting loaner jewelry from guests who were still having dinner. "It was beyond tacky," said an onlooker.
On Thursday, Oliver Peoples threw a luncheon with the film producer Bob Evans and Perrier Jouët sponsored Friday night's Women in Film party at studio honcho Peter Guber's house, but fatigue was setting in. As one fashion editor summed it up: "I said to someone last night, 'I want to crawl under a rock.' And he said, 'Watch out. That rock is probably sponsored by Miss Sixty jeans.'"
The hottest ticket of the week was Bryan Lourd's party Friday night and, of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that the press wasn't allowed inside, though it certainly didn't stop them from showing up.
There were at least 80 photographers crowded outside to snap Madonna, Sir Ben Kingsley, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn and Casey Affleck as they jumped out of their Bentleys and Priuses — falling into two clear camps in the global warming debate — and headed inside the CAA agent's home.
Among the events the press was invited to, the most exclusive that night was a dinner at the Chateau Marmont hosted by the Diamond Information Center. Sharon Stone, who showed up in Dior, with whom she has a beauty contract, said there was nothing wrong with a little product placement, particularly given the current alternatives in the celebrity universe. "It's my job, not some eccentric hobby. I don't think vomiting in a parking lot is my job," she said in apparent reference to wild starlets like Britney Spears (who Stone actually ran into at the grocery store last week). "I think bathing is my job. I'm a grown-up putting kids through school. I have a family that loves me and doesn't treat me like I am their job."