Just about everybody's first stop on the post-Oscar pub crawl. Appropriately, the Palace-at-Versailles-inspired affair dripped with gold: chairs, silk napkins, gilded chandeliers. Even the nibbles were luxe: prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, marinated artichoke salad, beet and goat cheese Napoleons with citrus shallot vinaigrette. (Clearly, France bashing is soooo Oscar 2003.) Topping off the decor were large paintings commemorating the set designs of such past Oscar winners as Gone With the Wind. Jude Law, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Clint Eastwood (pushing his mother, Ruth, through the throng in a wheelchair), and Bill Murray greeted well-wishers while an orchestra played famous movie songs and -- in a nod to honorary Oscar winner Blake Edwards -- the Pink Panther theme. When the masses cleared, the night's big winner, Peter Jackson, was still happily parked at his table, enjoying champagne and ignoring a handler who wanted to help him carry his statuettes to the next soiree. ''I've got my three,'' he said, waving his hand. ''I'm gonna hang on to these.''
''If you stay long enough, everybody in Hollywood will come through,'' noted Russell Simmons of the famous fete. He wasn't kidding: Among the glitterati were Renee Zellweger, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, and OutKast's Andre 3000, who was busy eyeing crab cakes and mini chocolate chip cookies when he gushed, ''They have the best hors d'oeuvres, great people, and great music!'' Lucy Liu, meanwhile, spent part of her evening in deep conversation with Kill Bill -- Vol. 1 costar Uma Thurman. One can only hope she was admonishing Thurman for that St. Pauli Girl getup.
Just 15 minutes after singer Joss Stone took the stage at the annual fund-raiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the fire marshal temporarily halted the shindig due to overcrowding. In other words, a successful Oscar-night blowout! Also overstuffed were cool gift bags (that included CDs from both Sir Elton and Stone) and trays of cigarettes. Smokes were available in a separate, haze-filled tent for those having nic fits. The uneventful telecast (''People were sitting around and talking throughout the show,'' said John, ''although they did get quiet when Sean Penn made his speech'') didn't stop guests from being charitable: The foundation raised more than $1 million.
At EW's 10th annual viewing party at Elaine's in Manhattan, two 7-foot ice sculptures of Oscar greeted such guests as Regis and Joy Philbin, Jesse L. Martin, Chris Noth, and Edie Falco, who clinked together Last Samurai saketinis and other movie-themed drinks throughout the night. The revelers watched as top contenders won statuettes, but that didn't stop Gothamites from rooting for the underdogs. Martin acknowledged a ''secret wish'' for Keisha Castle-Hughes to take home an Oscar, while Ice-T declared City of God ''the best film I've ever seen.'' Must be an East Coast-West Coast thing.