And, um, getting excited over Hollywood.
"Spotlight" was buzzed about as guests filled out their Oscar ballots in the bright outdoor cocktail area, where
Among those walking the red carpet at the Elton event were Charlie Sheen in a T-shirt emblazoned with his own face and the words "Be positively negative,"Boy George in a black hat so enormous that Pharrell's hats would be put to shame, Vince Vaughn, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, Karreuche Tran, Kelly Rowland, Zooey Deschanel and no fewer than three Ashley/Ashlees: Tisdale, Greene and Simpson.
Young actor Jacob Tremblay of "Room" made an appearance at one point after making a splash on the Oscars red carpet earlier in the day.
In the dimly lit indoor part of the cocktail area,
Then it was time for dinner and the show, but no big rush. Despite the best efforts of the man on the public-address system, the move of hundreds of people into the dining room wasn't even close to complete until around the time Alicia Vikander was accepting her supporting actress statue -- well after Chris Rock's introductory monologue and a couple of writing awards.
"Fighting AIDS means fighting the things that divide us. Ending AIDS means ending these injustices," host Elton John told the gathering at the first commercial break, by way of welcome. "By being here tonight, you are saying no to stigma, no to the status quo, and yes to a more just and equal society and the end of AIDS."
His husband, David Furnish, followed up with how-to-pledge instructions, inviting guests to text dollar amounts and messages that would be projected on the dining room's 18 screens during later breaks in the action. By the end of the night, $6.2 million would be raised for the foundation.
Guests enjoyed a five-course meal designed for the fourth year by Gordon Ramsay, and food and chatter pulled a lot of the attention for the bulk of the show. With celebrities concentrated at tables down front but also peppered throughout the room, the formally dressed crowd chatted among themselves and enjoyed cured salmon, a celeriac-apple soup, filet mignon or sea bass and then a salad, served European-style after the main course. As the wine and Champagne flowed in the room -- styled with orange carpet, magenta and purple seat covers, red tulip centerpieces and geometric designs projected in light on a dark-pink ceiling -- the conversation picked up in intensity.
The best song category, however, got the attention of the dinner guests, who appeared to be rooting for a win by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga, the latter of whom had played a free concert with Elton on Saturday on the Sunset Strip as a thank-you to the city of West Hollywood for its continuing hospitality. After a huge round of applause in the room for Gaga's performance on the broadcast, a big group "awwwww" met the announcement of Sam Smith's victory, though his heartfelt (albeit mistaken) speech about being the first openly gay Oscar winner (he wasn't) eventually earned him a round of applause.
At yet another commercial break, "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor stepped up to solicit donations, and pledges ranging from a dollar to tens of thousands popped up. "
The veterans of "Glee" were well represented as well, with
By the time the major categories rolled around, dinner was done and attention was on the broadcast. The room went nuts when DiCaprio won, and then cranked it up a notch when "Spotlight" took best picture.