‘Crazy Heart’ Toasted in Tinsel Town
It's nearly three weeks before Academy Awards, but we can't imagine that any other pre-Oscar shindig will be as joyous and fun as the 'Crazy Heart' party that The Boot attended in Los Angeles Monday night.
Where else would you see the 'Crazy' trio of Oscar nominees, actor Jeff Bridges and musicians Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett jamming on stage with Sir Elton John, while co-star and fellow Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and her brother Jake look on? Or see co-star/Oscar winner Robert Duvall singing a heartfelt 'Red River Valley' backed by Bridges, Burnett and Harry Dean Stanton on harmonica?
The party, thrown by New West Records, the label that released the 'Crazy Heart' soundtrack, was low-key, despite the high-wattage star power: 'Mad Men' star Jon Hamm and girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt retreated to the balcony of the Vibrato restaurant, owned by Herb Alpert, in order to have the perfect view of the stage. But there were no velvet ropes and no VIP areas, as the movie's stars mingled among the guests (the vast majority of them Oscar voters, no doubt), including Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson, Peter Fonda, Frances Fisher and Elliott Gould.
I chatted with Hamm and Westfeldt, who marveled at the performances and the restaurant, which is tucked away in a non-descript strip mall alongside a Starbucks and a kid's clothing store. Elton John, who played 'I Don't Know' from the movie, waxed enthusiastically about his new album with his hero, Leon Russell, which Burnett produced. A delighted Bingham is clearly riding the wave of a journey that seemed unbelievable only a few months ago and raved about what fun he's having to The Boot. (You could have heard a pin drop in the club when he performed a soul-shaking version of 'Crazy Heart's' theme, 'The Weary Kind.')
A genial Burnett, meanwhile, is ready for the Oscars to get here. He told The Boot that the time between now and awards night feels like an eternity: "I wish I could be like a bear and just hibernate for the next three weeks," he joked. However, a few minutes later, he admitted he is having a blast. Burnett and Bingham are up for an Oscar for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original song) for 'The Weary Kind,' while Bridges is nominated for best actor for his portrayal of Bad Blake and Gyllenhaal is a contender for best supporting actress for playing reporter Jean Craddock.
The Oscars air March 7 on ABC.