The Insider: William Morris’ Party to End All Parties

May 18, 2008  •  Post A Comment

You can lead a hors d’oeuvres hound to a wide-open party space, but you can’t make him think that spreading out is the thing to do.
So it seemed at the annual William Morris upfront party May 12. After several years at the legendary 21, where one could faint but not fall because the warren of rooms was so crowded, and then the Four Seasons restaurant, where it was only slightly less congested, the agency rented the Connecticut-sized second-floor atrium at the Museum of Modern Art.
And yet, the hundreds of partygoers massed on the entry side of the floor, leaving about two-thirds of the square footage sort of a vast wasteland.
To trade quips with Crown Media Holdings CEO and bon mot meister Henry Schleiff, one had to rub more than elbows with NBC Universal entertainment executive Marc Graboff or—gasp!—Harvey Weinstein, the Miramax biggie who helped touch off a legal bonfire by telling NBCU’s Bravo that it is out and Lifetime is in as the future home of hit “Project Runway.” (Did anyone else think how fun it would be to use Mr. Schleiff’s background—he was once Court TV CEO, after all—to start an arbitration/mediation/litigation dialogue right there?)
Although the crowd was longer on power brokers and shorter on stars than in previous years, that must be chalked up to the networks’ star-lite upfront presentations.
It was a terrific party that held The Insider there long after her creaky back and knees and feet screamed, “Go home and play back ‘Dancing With the Stars.’”
Kathy Griffin used the “north 40” to thumb her PDA in open privacy.
Swoosie Kurtz, though, was right in the middle of the crunch. As were Kevin Spacey; CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo; CNBCer-turned-“Good Morning America” correspondent Bianna Golodryga; Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer; “The Insider’s” Lara Spencer; the Ben Silverman-less Reveille contingent of Chris Grant, Mark Koops, Howard T. Owens and Lee Rierson; MindShare Entertainment President Peter Tortorici; ABC News executive Dave Davis; Kay Koplovitz, who said the tough economy is not drying up her venture capital sources; and Dick Wolf, who was handing out the next best thing to hugs.
The Insider shared some “Big Brother” observations with Julie Chen and tried (for only the first of numerous times last week) to pry out of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves just which show he was referring to when he said on his first-quarter earnings call that one of the two pilots he had seen at the time was “adorable.” That just was such an un-Moonves word. Ms. Chen said she hadn’t seen any pilots at that point and didn’t know which show it was. After the CBS upfront Wednesday, Mr. Moonves revealed it was “Worst Week,” which has an adorable lead in Kyle Bornheimer but has such physically bruising scenes that laughing—which the upfront crowd did nonstop—seemed almost unkind.
Then there were the tall guys, Disney CEO Bob Iger, CNBC President Mark Hoffmann and “Today” executive producer Jim Bell, who appeared to tempt fate any time they were in the vicinity of the big square bar in the middle of the atrium—right under an industrial-sized fan swinging on a long tether in wide and unpredictable arcs.
It moved the air around, but that wasn’t why it was there. It’s part of an exhibition by Iceland’s Olafur Eliasson. The title? “Ventilator” (1997). It lent an air of “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” to everything.
And more than one person seemed to shrink a bit when it took a turn toward them.


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