“Where do you get the Champagne? Oh! It's over there!” actress Jane Seymour said as she passed through a circle of fans and photographers snapping photos.
It's a rare thing to find an entertaining event with a laid-back and relaxed vibe, all benefiting a worthy cause. The 23rd annual Oscars Viewing Party hosted by Elton John and David Furnish, benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation, was just that.
Party tents took over West Hollywood Park on Sunday for what is known to be the biggest fundraising event on the evening of the Academy Awards.
Cocktail hour saw myriad celebrities, most with drink in hand, focused and intent on filling out their requisite Oscar ballots. To the winner? A Chopard watch. Chase Crawford, who came solo to the event, grabbed a bottle of Heineken and leaned on the edge of the bar to fill his out.
"I'm confused this year. I kind of want 'American Sniper' to win best picture. It was fantastic. But I think 'Boyhood' will win,” he said.
The "Gossip Girl" actor's confusion only escalated as he looked over the best actress nominees. (We helped him out, suggesting he select Julianne Moore, who went on to win the award. We're good.)
"OK, let's check it!" Crawford said as he drew a mark next to Moore's name.
Aaron Paul seemed just as torn when looking over his Oscar ballot with wife Lauren Paul standing near.
"Hey, who's going to win the best animated category?” the "Breaking Bad" actor called out to an event staffer, who immediately went over to look over Paul's card and provide some tips.
Before handing in his ballot, Paul, who had been sipping a cocktail he claimed to be "all vodka," snapped several photos of it.
"I just want to follow along while it's going on," he explained.
Cocktails were set up in two rooms: one indoors, brightly illuminated with purple lights, and the other in a clear tent, protecting guests from the on-and-off rain. Both rooms offered a Roca Patron bar and trays of small bites, such as grilled cheese on raisin bread and filet mignon with rosemary sprigs.
Just as guests began making their way into the main tent to dine and watch the show, Heidi Klum arrived in a slinky metallic gown with sheer paneling. Her arrival turned heads and made fans gawk.
Before moving into the main tent, Klum sneaked away to the bar with boyfriend Vito Schnabel. While waiting for their drinks, the lovebirds locked eyes and engaged in some light PDA, kissing, giggling and embracing.
Staying true to the event's disco theme, the main room showcased purple lanterns and silver disco balls hanging from the ceiling. The five-course dinner was thoughtfully and meticulously designed by "Hell's Kitchen" chef Gordon Ramsay, who showed a much sweeter and softer side than usual any time a guest complimented the menu.
A fan walking past Furnish congratulated him on his marriage to Elton John, a ceremony that took place in December. Previously, they'd been in a civil union.
“Thank you! The world is changing rapidly in a very good way. This part of the world at least, but we need to keep chipping away,” Furnish said.
Sharon Osbourne was one of several celebrities who took to the stage to encourage guests to text their pledges of donations to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
"We’ve all got bloody too much of everything. So dig in deep and donate!” the panelist from "The Talk" told the packed room.
In addition to hosts, other celebrities who encouraged guests to pledge through texting included Hilaria and Alec Baldwin. "I think we all know we're not here to eat sea bass," the "30 Rock" alum said. "We’re here to take a photo with Elton John and pay $10,000 for it. Matt Lauer and Neil Patrick Harris sent video messages, with the latter saying he wished he could have been at the event but his agent had already booked him, "and on Oscars night no less."
Head-table guests included Smokey Robinson, Klum, Beck and Baldwin.
"We’ve got to make this real quick. I've gotta take my wife home," Baldwin told an eager fan hoping to snap a photo with the actor. The missus is pregnant with their second child.
While some celebrities had to call it a night early on, others made sure they had the proper ammunition to party through the night. Miley Cyrus, sporting a bright orange lip and a Schiaparelli Couture jumpsuit, stepped outside the main tent to take shots of Patron with friends. After a pal encouraged her to have another drink, insisting that he was way ahead of her, Miley protested: "No you’re not! I'm already four in."
Kelly Osbourne, perfectly pulling off a lilac-colored mohawk, also stepped outside to catch up with friends. The E! "Fashion Police" panelist vented about her Oscars day. "One minute it was sunny, and the next this cloud of rain came," she said. "I had to put on a new dress and get my hair and makeup re-done!”
After cheerfully taking selfies from several different angles with a fan, and stalling long enough, Osbourne insisted on going back into the main tent. “I’m gonna go in and see my mom and dad now. Or else they're going to kill me!”
As the awards show continued, guests sat and watched with their eyes locked on one of the nearly 15 screens lining the tent walls. After "The Grand Budapest Hotel" took the prize for costume design, JC Chasez turned to the guests at his table, including Chris Colfer and Lauren Zizes of "Glee," and asked, "What's your favorite Wes Anderson?"
Eric McCormack chuckled, “Now this is a funny duo!,” as Idina Menzel and John Travolta presented the award for original song. And as Common delivered his acceptance speech for the award, the "Will and Grace" star shushed those around him. "This guy gives great speeches," he said.
After dinner and the viewing, guests took part in a seven-item auction including a five-day getaway in Steven Tyler’s Maui retreat and a unique print by Stephen Somerstein of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to civil-rights marchers (a piece that took home an impressive $225,000).
Before the official afterparty got underway, music guests Nile Rodgers and CHIC took to the stage to perform. Songs like "Le Freak" brought guests to their feet, dancing and jumping around the dance floor. Before their finale, Rodgers called "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" actor Craig Robinson to the stage. "Let’s see if Craig can hot tub time machine the room back to the disco period," Rodgers told guests.
As CHIC performed "Good Times," Elton walked on stage to freestyle on the keyboard. Guests were invited on stage to dance and witness the music legend's quick fingers on the keyboard firsthand.
As the party ran into the late hours, guests found sustenance at a "sweet and savory" snack bar, which included mouth-watering bites such as bacon-wrapped shrimp, French fries, mac 'n' cheese and cupcakes.
"You were right about Julianne Moore!" Crawford said as the night came to a close. "That was a great tip. Did you win the ballot prize? Did you get the Chopard watch?"
No, Chase Crawford, we didn’t. And we're as shocked as you are.
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