George Wayne Recalls the 1999 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

George Wayne Recalls the 1999 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

From Whitney and Bobby's fight to holding Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, George Wayne walks V through the night to remember.

From Whitney and Bobby's fight to holding Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, George Wayne walks V through the night to remember.

Text: Trey Taylor

“This is the place to be at,” gushed an Access Hollywood reporter into her boxy microphone from outside Morton’s, the famous Hollywood haunt that hosted the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 1999. “Matt and Ben, Ellen and Anne, Gwyneth Paltrow... Even Monica Lewinsky’s inside!” After Paltrow had snagged Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love, she and the rest of Tinseltown’s best and brightest funneled into Morton’s for a VIP nightcap. The magazine had gone all out to avoid the previous year’s snafu, when a fire marshal had enforced a dreaded one-in-one-out policy after the venue reached capacity. This year, to accommodate overflow, a 16-piece band was flown in from Cuba to entertain guests waiting in line. On a newly expanded red carpet, flashbulbs popped as Drew Barrymore and Renée Zellweger offered sound-bites to reporters. But the real spectacle was inside.

George Wayne, then a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, had pleaded with the publication’s former editor-in-chief, Graydon Carter, to let him attend. “People might say I was a pet,” says Wayne with a shrug. “[But] Graydon said, ‘You can come but don’t tell anybody ’cause if you come everyone, everybody else is gonna want to.’”

Wayne, then 35, flew himself out to L.A. and checked into the Chateau Marmont before heading to Morton’s early to watch the Oscars broadcast. “The first people I saw were Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. They arrived just before me, and they were already arguing. Right in front of the cameras!” Wayne recalls.

Wayne’s friendship with guest of honor Gwyneth Paltrow proved more harmonious. “I was so happy for her, cause I’ve known that one since about 1993, when she was still chain smoking Marlboro Red cigarettes. I’ll never forget her walking in the Oscar party that night. Swanning, dripping in diamonds and pink Ralph Lauren, the blonde tresses in a perfect chignon and clutching her date for the night—Oscar! and of course, creepy Harvey [Weinstein] wasn’t far behind. [But] of course the highlight was Gwynnie! Gwynnie! Gwynnie!” he exclaims. “She saw me and she squealed ‘Ahhh’ and I said, ‘Can I hold it, Can I hold it?’” he continues. “I grabbed the Oscar and we sat down beside each other on that beautiful couch and the paps went wild.”

The rest of the night, Wayne was perched in his corner, there to witness the collision of star-power and fashion over his “mimsy” (a mimosa additionally spiked with vodka). Scattered about the clubby steakhouse interior, Madonna sat in a booth with pals Herb Ritts and Rupert Everett; Charlize Theron tangoed with Minnie Driver, and Monica Lewinsky, then just a few weeks out from Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, exchanged pleasantries with Helena Christensen.

“Christopher [Ciccone] and I had a good kiki in the corner too, and I said, 'You just make sure I can get in to the party up in the hills at Guy and Madonna’s, okay?' Madonna always loved me but she was a little scared. She always thought I was going to write something about her,” says Wayne. But the action didn’t stop there. “I spent a lot of time with Anthony Kiedis,” he adds, “I flirted with him the whole night. I mean, I kissed Anthony Kiedis on the cheek! That was just heaven,” he says, wistfully. “You know, I spent almost a whole year waiting for the next one.”

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