- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Most Washingtonians dont leave home on Academy Awards night. Much better, they reason, to watch the coverage on TV rather than trying to make merry at ersatz Oscar parties that pale woefully in comparison to the star-studded extravaganzas thrown by Vanity Fair and the major Hollywood studios.
But for die-hards determined to avoid couch-potato status Sunday night, there were a few choice spots to see the show in good company and have a bit of fun as well.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts bash at the St. Regis Hotel lived up to its reputation as the capitals most lavish and inventive Oscar party. As always, separate rooms were dedicated to each of the five films nominated for best motion picture of the year.
It didnt take movie-savvy guests too long to figure out that the bamboo pathways, shoji screens and Japanese lanterns decorating the area nearest the door meant they were in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" land, with plenty of sushi, sashimi, dim sum and yum-yum martinis making their own palatable point.
The "Chocolat" room was even easier: lots of cakes, crepes and creme brulees, with chocolate martinis for the gastronomically adventurous. "Traffic" featured margaritas and other south-of-the-border treats, while "Erin Brockovich" steered clear of anything more toxic than flavored coffees and chilled bottles of Evian water.
Truly epic treatment was reserved for the "Gladiator" room, of course, where waiters in togas served "Caesar" salad, pasta, and "Neptunes Bounty" (shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels) at stations embellished with faux arches and entablatures, purple drapery and temples of melting ice.
Even Allied Advertising honcho , who represents most of the top studios here, was suitably impressed as much by the faux grandeur as the ability of the "living statue" mimes to stay in character.
"They were waiting for their next victim, and I was it," she said after bumping into a faux-marbled Minerva who suddenly sprang to life just before the award for best supporting actress was announced.
Over at the new Visions Cinema-Bistro-Lounge on Florida Avenue NW, there were no splashy decorative motifs to titillate the 300 serious cinephiles who filled both theater spaces to watch attentively the simulcast proceedings throughout the night. No fancy food either. Popcorn, chips and other light appetizers sufficed for the trendy crowd paying $20 apiece to walk up a red carpet, drink, dance, get interviewed by City Cable Channel 16 and enter contests for the best "camp" and "drag" costumes (which nobody much bothered to do).
Still, for those who hate to be alone, it was preferable to sitting solo in front of the boob tube all night.
Some, such as artist Manon Cleary, claimed to have little choice in the matter. Her bedroom, she said, was in such a mess that she wouldnt have been able to find the TV.

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