Ministry of Gossip

Jeffrey Tambor, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio chill out with a spot of BAFTA tea

Looking around him, Jeffrey Tambor perfectly summed up the scene at Saturday’s BAFTA Tea Party.

"This is great," the Golden Globe-nominated "Transparent" star said. "Look, I'm inches away from (John Taylor) the bass guitarist from Duran Duran; over there is Patrick Stewart; over there, the director of 'Spotlight'; over there, the guys who did 'Inside Out'; over there, the people who made '45 Years' … and again, let me repeat, I'm just inches away from Duran Duran.”

Leonardo DiCaprio arrived shortly after Tambor made those observations and just after Cate Blanchett made her exit. All through the afternoon, actors, directors, producers and other Hollywood VIPs streamed into the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills for the affair tossed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles.

As the shindig celebrated this year's award winners and nominees, BAFTA board chair Kieran Breen said in his formal remarks that he recognized the timing as "an incredibly busy and intense period for everybody in this room." He then added, "So today we are going to take a breath and do what all the Brits do in times of stress and crisis -- we're going to have a cup of tea.”

Early in the party, Blanchett caught up with her "Carol" cohorts, including costar Rooney Mara, director Todd Haynes and producer Harvey Weinstein. Congratulated on her Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, two-time Oscar winner Blanchett quickly turned attention to the film's cinematographer, Ed Lachman, also a BAFTA nominee, praising him for his work.

Clearly pleased with the Golden Globes nomination for "Empire," series co-creator Danny Strong said, "I didn’t even know if the show would get on the air."

"You know the show was never designed to be an awards season show and the fact that it got nominated is really cool, especially as it was nominated with such a hip group of shows," he said, listing "Mr. Robot," "Narcos" and "Game of Thrones" among them.

On a serious note, Mark Ruffalo and director Tom McCarthy talked of the importance of investigative journalism, as illustrated in their three-time Globe-nominated film, "Spotlight."

"Most of us know how dire the situation is with journalism, specifically investigative journalism and even more specifically investigative journalism on a local level in this country right now," McCarthy said. "We felt this movie was an ode to a time when journalism was well-funded, fully supported and considered essential."

Said Ruffalo, "The film celebrates all that is essential about journalism. You need strong local journalism to break important stories. You need someone that you can send to City Hall. You need somebody to speak to this person, to that person. I hope the film reminds folks of how essential it is for a democracy, how essential it is for a healthy community and how essential it is to keep our institutions in line – even within themselves."

Throughout the event, servers passed Champagne while a buffet of tea sandwiches, chocolate eclairs, lemon tarts and more treats stood ready for the party-goers, who also included actors Emilia Clarke, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Saoirse Ronan, Christoph Waltz, Alicia Vikander, Bel Powley, Brie Larson, Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Shannon, Topher Grace and Dennis Haysbert, directors Adam McKay and Tom Hooper, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, songwriter Diane Warren and British Consul General Chris O'Connor.

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