Jaci Stephen: You could spot the Brits at the Oscars – they were the ones without statuettes

Way Out West

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Please tell me he's done it for a part. Please tell me that George Clooney's badly styled, greying locks at the Oscars, were not the result of a decision on the actor's part to grow old gracefully. Please tell me it wasn't George at all, but an ageing cousin drafted in as a body double because the real George was at home with flu.

Anything. Please tell me anything other than the inconceivable truth that George Clooney has gone totally grey.

Being the only Brit in LA not to have received an invite to Elton John's post-Oscar bash, I watched the awards on the TV at my favourite restaurant, the Grill on the Alley, in Beverly Hills. Far from feeling left out of the party, I was grateful to have been saved the pain of seeing Katie Price turn up as the Big Purple One from the Quality Street collection. According to reports, she hadn't been invited to Elton's either, but blagged a ticket.

In the build-up to the big day, I saw Katie's name appear on one invitation list as "actress" which, given that her whole life is a performance, that is pretty much what she is. Arriving at LAX with an army of minders and sunglasses like shields, I am convinced the woman is suffering from an acute case of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

Katie the "actress" hadn't arrived by the time I left the pre-Oscars pampering night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, but real celebrities gathered on the pool terrace to sample the free massages, make-up and Moët et Chandon.

It was one of hundreds of events in a week that saw the city turn into an Oscar theme park. Previous Oscar winners were wheeled out on TV to talk about their bygone days of glory, and previous winners of Best Picture dominated the film channels. I re-watched The Godfather. Twice. And although I still haven't summoned up the emotional energy to see The Hurt Locker, or the time to watch Avatar, I felt I knew them backwards as a result of the thousands of clips shown throughout the week.

I began the night in the Beverly Wilshire, which I have come to regard as my local. British PR supremo Neil Reading was there, and Michelle Collins, looking stunning and obviously fully recovered from her stint as Cindy Beale in EastEnders. Any woman who survived (well, until her death) marriage to Ian deserves high praise in my book.

I love this hotel, and have done ever since Warner Brothers put me up there at a pre-Oscars bash over 20 years ago. Alex, the current manager of the Boulevard bar and restaurant, is an absolute sweetheart, brilliant at his job, and a million times better than his predecessor, who would have been more at home running Guantanamo Bay. For all I know, that's where he's been transferred. If he has, I know he'll be very at home there.

The staff are the best in the business. I love the way Pepe calls me "My lady", doubtless a translation he once picked up from a phrase book, and it has the desired effect of making every woman feel very special. It's a great bar if you are a woman eating or drinking alone, because you always meet people. On Sunday I hooked up with some Canadians in town to watch the ice hockey. After the Olympics, Canadian ice hockey enthusiasts are very smug, following their team's gold medal. Still, Canadians don't have much to celebrate very often, so no one minds very much.

The hotel didn't have the volume on, so I watched the Red Carpet (which is almost as big as the Oscars themselves) with subtitles. This made everything pretty incomprehensible, with phrases like "globe all odd" (global audience) confusing things somewhat. And apparently, Sandra Bullock was the star of a film called "The Blend Side", presumably a movie about getting to grips with your Kenwood Chef.

You could spot the Brits in the crowd because they were the only ones with yellow teeth; you could spot them even more easily later on, because they were the only ones not carrying any statuettes.

Over at the Grill, the sound was turned up for the event, and I sat through what has to be the dullest Oscars in living memory. If you thought Jonathan Ross's script at the Baftas was leaden, the one spouted by Oscars co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin felt like treading mercury.

Still, it was good to be in town to savour the atmosphere, and at least George made quite a few people's nights by rewarding their long wait with signing autographs. Lovely man, terrific actor, and the Grecian 2000's in the post, George.



To read Jaci Stephen's LA diary in full, go to lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com

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