An Insider's View of the People, Parties, and Pomp Leading Up To the Oscars
This year I was able to participate in all the Oscar hoopla from a very unique and specific vantage point. I acted in Milk, one of the five movies nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for best picture. More than that, Milk was one of Hollywood's favorite horses because the movie was about a subject that had gravitas and was on everyone's mind after the disaster of the passage of the notorious Proposition 8. The film dealt with the exact same issue some 30 plus years earlier with the execrable Anita Bryant's anti-homosexual initiative in Dade County in Florida.
I was invited to every major Hollywood party, where everywhere I went people made a fuss over me -- especially actors. I had about four memorable encounters. At the Oscar party for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button after the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, CAA agent Kevin Huvane introduced me to Meryl Streep, whom I had never met. She is one of a handful of actors that totally intimidate me, so prodigious is her talent. Meryl looked at me, her hand in her chin and said: "You were so great in Milk. I watched you very closely and you just exuded power and confidence. But one thing intrigued me. I had never seen you before. Where did you do your training?"
I answered her truthfully: "I've never acted professionally before."
She looked at me, her eyes squinting: "I hate you," she said, and pivoted on her heel. She then came back laughing and proceeded to analyze my performance for the next 10 minutes.
"You're Meryl Streep" I said.
"Yes, I am."
"I can now die and go to heaven!"
"Well, I look forward to working with you soon."
Then I was in the elevator going from the American Movie Classics (AMC) party, and John Hamm (from the television series Mad Men) nudged his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Westerfeldt. "There's the guy from Milk, honey." He looked at me and said: "Man, you were awesome in Milk!"
Bruce Springstein, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt all had the same reaction about my performance. I am like a pig in shit! Paul Newman called it the power of the 60 foot face.
It turns out in this pre-Oscar party season, Collen Camp has become the party person of note. She threw three very glamorous parties; one for Milk, together with Carrie Fisher at Carrie's wonderfully warm and cozy home; and one for Slumdog Millionaire and one for The Wrestler, both at Colleen's beautiful home where her former husband John Goldwyn had grown up. At these parties there were "stars by the yard" and "directors by the foot." There were so many legends in each room that one would have thought you were in Madame Tussaud's except that everyone was alive -- from Dustin Hoffman, Cameron Diaz, and Gus van Zant, to Forrest Whitaker, Natalie Portman, Danny Boyle, and Melanie Griffith. It's official. Colleen Camp is now the new social arbiter in Hollywood.