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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 02:46 GMT
Oscar parties: Going for the acting gig

By David Willis
BBC News, Los Angeles

The Academy Awards mean parties - lots of parties. The BBC's David Willis has taken a six-month break to try and make it as an actor in Hollywood, and he saw the festivities as a perfect opportunity for networking.

Actresses Lindsey Lohan and Sharon Stone arrive at Elton John's party
Elton John's soirees are always popular in Hollywood

"Would you mind stepping to one side, Sir, I can't seem to find your name on the list."

It was one of those heart-sinking, flesh-crawling moments where a big man with a Britney Spears-style earpiece and an officious manner dexterously manoeuvres you out of the way so that beautiful people can pass by.

Alone in my ill-fitting tuxedo I felt like a milk bottle left out on the doorstep.

A woman in a low cut dress and legs up to here shot me a suspicious glance as she sashayed past the "Nazi" on the door.

In Hollywood, people would rather die in a fire than not be On The List.

Ali G 'interview'

Eventually the PR man who had vowed a few days earlier to smooth my passage appeared wearing a similar earpiece and a harassed manner.

At that moment bedlam broke out... A heavy object hit me on the back and I was propelled a considerable distance

"Sorry about that," he said ushering me into the Abbey, a cavernous restaurant in west Hollywood where gorgeous people were clustered around huge flat-screen TVs watching Rachel Weisz receive her gong.

The bar staff were serving phosphorescent concoctions with names like Brokeback berry martini and Capote cosmo, which seemed to comprise a veritable dogs breakfast of ingredients so I opted instead for a glass of premier Krug.

Just as I was wondering who to talk to the PR man bounded up and asked if I wanted to interview Sasha Cohen.

Great, I thought, a little light relief.

He led me to a table where flash bulbs were going off. The group parted and Sasha Cohen came over to shake my hand.

For a moment I thought Ali G had had a sex change.

"Sasha just won silver at the Torino Olympics," Mr PR man whispered into my ear.

If I had to bet on who would make a better job of the short programme, Borat or the diminutive creature in front of me, it wouldn't be a difficult call.

We chewed the cud about double Axels and triple Lutzs and I made my excuses and left.

Elton John's soiree

By this time the awards show was over and the big parties were just getting going.

Director Guy Richie and singer Madonna arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar party at Mortons
The Vanity Fair is known as the "Holy Grail" of Oscars parties

Elton John's soiree was just a few hundred yards away and with the confident glow that only the equivalent of a bucket of champagne can give a chap I slipped past the doormen and stepped onto the red carpet.

At that moment bedlam broke out. Cameras craned, flash bulbs exploded, questions were shouted.

Blinded by the light I tried to work out what the reporters were asking. Was it "Who are you wearing?" or, more likely, "What are you doing here?"

With that a heavy object hit me on the back and I was propelled a considerable distance. Blinking into the arc lights I spotted another character with a headset and realised I'd arrived at the same time as Sir Elton and had been obscuring the host.

Inside Sharon Stone was standing against a table groaning with lobster, chicken skewers and avocado rolls, deep in conversation with Donatella Versace.

'Giraffe on steroids'

Lindsay Lohan greeted Salma Hayek like a long-lost friend.

A large spherical object appeared in my peripheral vision which on closer inspection proved to be one of Pamela Anderson's breasts.

I received a refill of champagne just as Elton clambered on to the stage to belt out "Rocket Man" and afterwards I shook his hand.

It was at about this point that I realised that in all the excitement I had completely forgotten the reason I came: to network and try to get an acting gig in Hollywood.

I circled the room looking for anyone who might be a producer but everyone I approached seemed to be in real estate.

By this stage I have to admit, movement had become something of a challenge. Champagne always has the same effect on me: it short-circuits the brain causing my legs to develop a mind of their own.

As one limb struck out in the direction of the bathroom I noticed that the other was heading for the exit.

The result was a flush-faced Englishman careering through the gathering like a giraffe on steroids.

Bumping into Tony Curtis

Despite my indisposition I had to make it to Vanity Fair - the "Holy Grail" of Oscars parties - and with a brainless expression on my face I lurched down the street to Mortons, the restaurant in which it was being held.

There my heart sank at the realisation that Eva Braun's long-lost daughter was presiding over the guest list.

She noticeably recoiled as I careered towards her and wasted little time telling me I wasn't on her list and therefore I wouldn't be getting in. Not, that is, until hell froze over.

I had always known that Vanity Fair would be tough and earlier in the day had dreamed up all sorts of schemes to gain entry, including turning up dressed as a pizza delivery man with a "cheese and pepperoni for Mr Seymour Hoffman".

Now I was rapidly running out of options: it was clear neither flattery, pleading or tears would cut much ice with this old harridan.

As I slunk off into the night a familiar face hove into view. We stopped and talked.

He told me he'd been coming to the parties for years but didn't much enjoy them these days.

Too many young people: "Either they're all getting younger or I'm getting older," he said.

He shook my hand and wished me well before disappearing into the night.

Tony Curtis - a legendary party animal in his day - will be 81 in a few weeks time.


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