Every year, the second week of January ignites a firestorm of fetes all over Los Angeles, as stars of film and television descend on the city just in time to hit the Golden Globes, the Critics' Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. With everyone in town, it's the perfect week to hold a party!
The fun started on Tuesday, January 7, as the Broadcast Film Critics Association hosted “A Celebration of Black Cinema” at the House of Blues. That organization will host the always star-studded Critics' Choice Awards on January 16 (watch it live on the CW); this early celebration was the brainchild of Shawn Edwards, the Kansas City Fox News African-American film critic. With so many 2013 films focusing on the black experience (think “12 Years a Slave,” “Lee Daniels' The Butler,” “Fruitvale Station,” etc.), it made for a perfect reason to have a party. Plus, one of the top documentary contenders this year is “20 Feet from Stardom,” a look at some of the talented black singers who back up superstars; they joined the party and put on a fantastic show.
Led by the sublime Darlene Love, the group included Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega and Judith Hill; they entertained a packed house, including Niecy Nash, Robert Townsend, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” star Meta Golding, Dawnn Lewis and famed songwriter/composer Dianne Warren, with songs including “Gimme Shelter” and “Lean on Me.”
Then on Thursday, January 9, Audi pulled out all the stops for their annual bash celebrating Golden Globes weekend. Always one of the hottest tickets in town and always held at Cecconi's restaurant, this year's party was jam-packed with Hollywood's biggest stars. You know it's a serious party when “Downton Abbey” star Michelle Dockery (she's Lady Mary) gets turned away from a small reserved section! But then Globes nominee Liev Schreiber – he's up for “Ray Donovan” – turned up, along with his partner Naomi Watts and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. They were the ones who got the choice seats!
Nominees Monica Potter (“Parenthood”) and Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) wiggled through the crowd, while Karina Smirnoff helped get the dancing started. Idris Elba snagged a perfect people-watching seat, while “Homeland” hottie Navid Negahban joked to us that he is “done playing terrorists – until the next good role comes along!”
Sarah Silverman holed up in another back corner, but Missi Pyle and her sister Meredith hammed it up in the ever-popular photo booth. Missi's a key player in the much-anticipated David Fincher film “Gone Girl,” due out later this year. As she looked across the mosh pit of people, she laughed, “All these people here and I swear I don't know anyone!” – and then immediately ran into her old pal Rachael Leigh Cook. Also spotted in the rollicking party were Chord Overstreet, Jesse Metcalfe, Alyssa Milano, Matthew Morrison, Omar Epps and Tamara Tunie, who happily told us about her new Sundance Channel drama series “The Red Road.” “Don't worry,” she said, “I'm not leaving ‘Law and Order.' I'm lucky enough to be able to do both.”
Speaking of doing both, Nia Vardalos and Ian Gomez hit the Audi shindig a bit late, as they party hopped from the Golden Globes Oh Canada Cocktail Party held on the rooftop of the Peninsula Hotel. Vardalos is Canadian, so she just had to go there to schmooze with fellow Canucks David Steinberg, Ben Mulroney, Tommy Chong and pals Joseph Bologna, Lili Haydn and Judy Tenuta. Everyone rocked out to a set from Canadian singers Burton Cummings and Bobby Wills as the bash went well into the wee hours.
Naturally, everyone probably slept in on Friday; it's important to rest up before hitting the next rounds of star-studded parties that will just keep right on rolling right through the Globes, CCMAs and SAG (happening on January 18).
Follow Jenny Peters and Spywitness on Twitter at @jennpeters.