While millions watched Barbara Walters’ ABC pre-Oscar special Monday night, she was too busy working the packed room at Elaine’s to pay close attention. The event: Entertainment Weekly’s Annual Oscar Party at the Manhattan restaurant, which drew, among others, Peter Jennings, Dennis Hopper, supermodel Frederique, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Berkley, Regis Philbin and Walter Cronkite. When the broadcast of Walters’ interview with Kim Basinger flashed across the Upper East Side restaurant’s six large-screen TVs, Walters cooed, “I just love her.”
Watching pre-Oscar coverage on another of the giant screens, Star Jones (Walters’ co-host on the daytime program “The View”) cast her vote for Best Dressed Female: “My girl, Sharon Stone,” who scored points by matching a Vera Wang skirt with new husband Phil Bronstein’s shirt. Al Roker of NBC’s “Today” show had his own fashion observations. Comparing the crowd that gathered to watch TV in New York with the crowd that gathered to pose for TV in L.A., he quipped, “There’s a lot less plastic surgery here.”
Donald Trump, who attended the party with model Celina Midelfar, shared his thoughts about “Titanic” while the nominees in L.A. were arriving at the Oscar ceremony. He defended the sea saga’s bloated $200 million price tag. “When you go over budget,” he said, “it’s not always a question if you’ll allow it. Sometimes, it just happens.” Sounds like experience talking.