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Lately, the VIP room has been looking pretty sparse. Since Sept. 11, studios have been downscaling star-studded events or canceling them altogether. Already ditched: New York City premieres for Zoolander, Don’t Say a Word, and Bandits. Warner Bros. recently nixed a post-screening party for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in New York and moved an Ocean’s 11 gala from Las Vegas to L.A. ”Nobody wants to go out and do frivolous, meaningless things after Sept. 11,” says Kate Beckinsale, who nevertheless attended the Oct. 3 Serendipity premiere.

Even in L.A., thousands of miles from ground zero, some stars are playing it safe: Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt chose to skip an Oct. 20 charity benefit organized by Matthew Perry because of security concerns. At the Oct. 22 K-PAX premiere in L.A., Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges were the only major stars to speak to the press on the red carpet. ”They’re just being very cautious,” says Janice Roland of NYC-based PR firm Falco Ink, which has no premieres scheduled for the next three months. Adds publicist Elizabeth Harrison, whose firm organizes bashes on both coasts: ”I don’t know if anyone wants to be at a huge, roaring blowout at the moment.”

Many hope the mood will shift as the awards season approaches. ”We’re planning on going full-blast ahead, as glitzy and glamorous as we can do it,” says a spokesman for next year’s Academy Awards, who promises heightened security for the event. And others are confident the celeb drought will soon pass. ”As long as they have to promote their new movie or new record, celebrities have to go out,” says longtime promoter Jeffrey Jah. ”[Because] there’ll always be a new young celebrity willing to take your place.” For some, that may be the scariest thing of all.

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