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Grammys? The real show is after the show

People (magazine)Academy AwardsBeyonceTom HanksArts and CultureCulture

With the Grammys over and the awards season now heading toward a climax with the Academy Awards on March 2, one thing has become obvious: Not all Hollywood parties are created equal.

Both before and after each big awards ceremony, there are multiple parties of varying exclusivity. If you are lucky enough to snag an invitation to one of these soireés, you may imagine you are on the way to becoming a player in the industry. But how do you really know? Well, my friend, read the clues.

First, are you partying in a private home in Beverly Hills or Malibu, hosted by someone whose name would be recognized by a waitress in Little Rock or a high school kid in Detroit? If so, you are already on the A-list and need no further advice.

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More likely, though, you’ll be at a bigger event in a swanky hotel hosted by a movie studio or television network or recording company or a magazine or a specialized entertainment company. The venue will invariably be nice. Probably, you’ll be standing near the pool with a free drink in your hand and the crowd around you will seem stylish and sleek. But look closer.

How is the food? And, more important, how long does it last? Are the tables larded like a king’s banquet and are the trays restocked all night? Or does the free grub run out even before all the guests have fought their way through the post-ceremony traffic? If you find yourself hunting down the last pork slider long before 10 p.m., you can assume you are being hosted by a company whose investors should think about cashing in soon.

When you arrived and handed your car over to the valet, were you embarrassed to be climbing out of your old clunker in the midst of so many Bentleys and limousines? Or did you relax when you saw that your ride was actually cooler than the Kias and Honda Civics in the drive? If the lineup of vehicles seems egalitarian, you should start to worry about who is inside.

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And whom, indeed, do you see at the party? Does someone as recognizable as Tom Hanks or Beyonce drift through and attract a crowd every few minutes? At a minimum, are there plenty of faces you recognize from TV shows and People magazine, even if you cannot recall the names? That’s a good sign. On the other hand, if the only “celebrities” in the room are five girl singers from Orange County who are billed as the next hot thing, and you find yourself standing behind them in the line for the free party photo, despair may be a proper response.

Beyond the celebrity quotient, who else is there to see? Are there lots of older bald guys in nice suits whose every word is being noted by three or four younger guys in nice suits? That’s a good sign. As unattractive as those older guys may be, they are the ones who own everything in town. Go join the fawning.

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At most of these parties you will see gorgeous young women prancing by in skirts that barely cover their crotches. There’s nothing wrong with the sense of youthfulness and sex appeal they add to the festivities, but if they are as numerous as sea gulls at a beach, beware. Too many of the pretty young things means this is more of an office party than a meeting of movers and shakers. Those girls are interns or assistants or friends of somebody’s daughter. And, sad as it is to say, if the girl who has wedged herself into one of those tight, skimpy dresses is a bit too hefty, you will know you are not ogling a starlet. She is probably a cashier at a Culver City doughnut shop.

Still, who cares? You are at a party, right? Enjoy yourself — and go grab those free oysters before some famished journalist eats them all.

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