Blowing Smoke


Most people watch the Academy Awards and post-awards parties to see what the stars wear, hear what they say and watch who they show up with.

But here's another tidbit to look out for: which stars smoke.

The air at Morton's, the site of the Vanity Fair/Steve Tisch party, was a hazy gray by midnight as guests puffed away, unencumbered by no-smoking laws. This was a private party and cigarettes were not verboten in the restaurant.

So who belongs to the smoking club? We spotted Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Jeremy Irons, Nicole Kidman and Anjelica Huston. But not everyone seemed to exhibit unhealthy habits. REM's Michael Stipe ordered a vegetarian plate.

Signs of the Time: Actors anxious to become stars now have a guide that takes the planets into consideration. The Astro Caster, "The Actor's Edge for Getting the Job," is an 88-page listing of local casting directors based on their astrological signs.

"It's become such an aggressive business," says author Taaffe O'Connell, a Taurus with Gemini rising and a Leo moon, "if you know something about a casting director, you feel more comfortable going into a meeting."

Besides giving the casting directors' signs, the Astro Caster lists TV shows with the name and sign of whoever casts it. As an example, "Days of Our Lives" is done by a Scorpio, while the actors in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" are picked by a Gemini. No mention is made of what sign's shows get better ratings.

The pamphlet also offers advice on the overall astrological feel of a studio's casting department. As an example, Paramount has "lots of creativity, grounded in support and balance." And Universal Television is "innovative, but organized. Caring, but pragmatic."

Coming soon from O'Connell is the Astro Executive featuring the astrological signs of studio execs. Presumably this would include who's in conjunction, rising and what projects are about to go into retrograde.

Between Bites: In a world of sound bites, these are bits of true-life dialogue that came our way:

* A woman speaking about a friend at a fashion designer's cocktail party: "She flunked out of dominatrix school. It was devastating. Everyone thought she'd be a natural."

* A cable television entertainer talking about her trip to Las Vegas where a UFO convention was taking place: "I arrived on abductee day. It was fabulous."

* A publicist at last week's Hollywood-political party at Spago for Dee Dee Myers, Diane and Paul Begala, James Carville and Mary Matalin: "The Republicans having Al D'Amato as their ethics cop is like making Bill Clinton the spokesman for Lean Cuisine."

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