Who had the better bash? Scarlett or Ben?
There was a real Hollywood flashback this week with the premieres of "The Black Dahlia" and "Hollywoodland," both held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills.
Both period movies deal with unsolved Hollywood deaths, the brutal murder of a wanna-be actress named Elizabeth Short and the strange suicide of TV's "Superman" star George Reeves.
But there was no comparison between the films' after-parties.
The rumblings at the low-key "Dahlia" post party in the main lobby of AMPAS ranged from polite congrats to Scarlett Johansson- wearing a Chanel frock and a Streisand do- and her on-and-off-screen beau Josh Hartnett to one woman loudly announcing "I want that two hours of my life back!" and getting quite a few "Me too" responses. Director Brian DePalma didn't bother to stay for the bash. And Hilary Swank, who was one of the film's hilarious highlights, was also a no-show.
But the "Hollywoodland" bash at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel was a far more upbeat, lavish and star-studded affair. The party was poolside with lots of bouquets on tables inside cabanas, white coated waitiers, cigarette girls, a brightly lit "Hollywoodland sign," displays of Chopard jewelry (including Reeves' watch seen in the film) and half a dozen vintage cars deposited stars in front of the hotel.
Not only were all the film's stars in attendance - Bob Hoskins, Adrien Brody, Robin Tunney, Diane Lane and others - but Ben Affleck, who plays Reeves, brought his wife Jennifer Garner, his brother Casey, his pal Matt Damon with his wife, Luciana Barroso.
It was nice to see the best buds - who burst on the Hollywood scene in '97 with "Good Will Hunting," grabbed a Best Screenplay Oscar and made headlines by dating two hot actresses Gywneth Paltrow and Winona Ryder - now look like mature, happily married family men. What a difference almost a decade makes.
It was clearly Ben's big night. The actor was affable, charming and relaxed, the way he was pre-J-Lo, just hanging with his friends and family, chatting with well-wishers and even talking to reporters about the role that some partygoers were dubbing his "comeback."
"It's a great role and that was obvious to me from the start," Affleck admitted. "George is an icon, but a tragic figure, a kind guy and a sad guy. He represents one thing to the nostalgic consciousness of the American TV watching audience. And now they get a chance to see his perspective on the show and it's quite different from what you'd expect."
But he was also relieved that he'd managed to dump the pounds he packed on to play Reeves. "At least I've finally lost all that weight. It would have been so embarrassing to show up at the premiere, five months after the film was shot and still be carrying all that around."
Producer James Schamus could not be more pleased with Ben's performance, which some insiders say could nab him a Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
"Getting Ben was the luckiest thing that has happened to us in a long time," said Shamus. "This guy is a gem. And not only is he a fine actor who is also a movie star but he's one of the most intelligent and the kindest guys in this business."
"We'd heard that Ben was interested in the role and we just kept coming back to his name," explained director Allen Coulter. "He was so right physically. He also has an aura about him and he's very charming. There were a lot of names on the table but when I met Ben for breakfast, it was Game Over. I met him that morning and had lunch with Diane (Lane) and I called Focus and said,"They're who I want. There's no point looking any further."
The "Hollywoodland" premiere party, sponsored by Chopard and Volkswagon, also drew almost every Hollywood Old Timer who was still mobile: Mickey Rooney, Eva Marie Saint, Jerry Mathers ("Leave it to Beaver"), Cyd Charisse, George Takei ("Star Trek") Lesley Ann Warren, Loni Anderson, Peter Graves, Robert Culp, ("I Spy") and Ann Rutherford as well as Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and comedian Kathy Griffin.
And the old folks haven't lost their sense of humor. They roared when Shamus introduced the film that night by saying, "This is a film that I think celebrates our Hollywood heritage and values; debauchery, greed, paranoia, substance abuse and adultery, all the things that make us special."
But the highlight of Coulter's night was hearing how much Larson/Jimmy Olsen loved the movie. The men discussed the Mannix mansion and the Reeves home. Coulter explained that the Reeves house was not the real one, but a similar house whose owners let the filmmakers reconfigure it to match the Reeves layout. Larson, who had been to George's house many times, was impressed by the accuracy of houses, the acting, writing and what he called "the compassionate portrayal of George."
"That's a nice thing," said Coulter, quietly, after Larson left. "That means a lot. I mean, he was there. He knew George."
Photo Credits: The "Hollywoodland" bash at the Beverly Hills Hotel was the hot party this week.
Photo Credits: A stunning Scarlett Johansson, with another grizzled old-timer director at low-key "Black Dahlia" premiere.
Photo Credits: The Matt and Ben Show is back on! Hey, how about an Oscar race this year?
Photo Credits: No more famous couple carpet antics. Ben Affleck sticks close to his nice-and-normal wife Jennifer Garner outside the AMPAS Thursday night
Photo Credits: "Hollywoodland" hotties Diane Lane, Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck. Will they nab a trio of nominations?