Tea Party at BAFTA: Hollywood Stars

By Greg Hernandez

hollywoodnews.com: One of my favorite awards season events is the annual tea party thrown each year by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles.

This year’s event, held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, was quite the star-studded soiree on Saturday scheduled nicely in between Friday’s Critics Choice Awards and today’s Golden Globe Awards.

I worked the red carpet and chatted with Kathy Griffin, American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe, Melissa Leo, Guy Pearce, Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance , Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, 127 Hours screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, songwriter Diane Warren, Kate Flannery of The Office, Michael Lombardi of Rescue Me and two of my all-time favorite actresses: Jacqueline Bisset and Brenda Vacarro.

Miss Leo (pictured left) is a past Oscar nominee for Frozen River a few years back. She was in a particularly good mood on Saturday because the night before she won the Critics Choice Award for best supporting actress for her role in The Fighter.

“I’m fine with a slow, progressive change and I learned last night I do okay with a thrilling, exciting in the moment change,” she said.

[I’ll have the rest of my interview with Melissa, up for a Golden Globe Award tonight, in the coming days]

As you may know, Kathy Griffin – who recently announced that her Bravo show My Life on the D-List is coming to an end – won the 2010 Greggy for Straight Ally of the Year for her advocacy work on behalf of LGBT equality.

I asked the two-time Emmy winner if she was aware of this particular kudo.

She was.

“Oh, that was so great,” Kathy said.

She said now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed, it’s time to focus on marriage equality: “We’ve got a lot of work to do, we’ve got to keep up the fight.”

Kathy, who usually does the red carpet for all it’s worth, whizzed by the red carpet so it was great to just get a few words with her. She seemed eager to get inside the party which seems to grow in popularity each year.

“There’s nobody here who loses out so we can all relax today,” said Nigel Lythgoe (pictured, left) the producer of American Idol who is chairman of BAFTA/LA.

Kate Flannery told me. “The Brits have a great time. Genetically I’m Irish so I guess that’s British adjacent.”

She is still having a great time on The Office and doesn’t see the departure of Steve Carrell before the end of the current season as the end.

“I feel like we are kind of preparing for this great new chapter, I feel like the future is very bright. There’s so many strong actors on our show and such great writers. I feel like the fans can feel confident about the future.

Guy Pearce was asked by a fashion reporter next to me what movie he thinks should win the Oscar for best picture. His answer was no surprise: “The Kings Speech.” Perhaps not knowing he was in the film she then asked, “Why?” Replied Guy: “Because it’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.”

Hollywood Stars: Stars also spotted either on the red carpet or inside the party: Jeff Bridges, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Jane Lynch, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Williams, Eric Stonestreet, Fred Willard, Tim Daly, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and sisters Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen.

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