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 Elton John's Oscar party celebrates winners, charity

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PostSubject: Elton John's Oscar party celebrates winners, charity   Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:51 pm

Elton John's Oscar party celebrates winners, charity
By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Few observers were pulling as hard for Slumdog Millionaire Sunday night as Sir Ben Kingsley.

Relaxing at Elton John's annual Oscar viewing party and fundraiser after he helped present the best-actor statuette, Kinglsey says he can't help but marvel at India's transformation since he filmed 1982's Ghandi there.

"You see the industry, the business, the entertainment that is growing there, and it's amazing," says Kingsley, who is half Indian. "This was the perfect movie for the times. I was pulling for (Slumdog) to win."

So, too, were many of the celebrities who turned out for the after-party, which helped raise almost $4 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Guests included David and Victoria Beckham, Nicole Kidman, Mary J. Blige and Donatella Versace.

Kingsley gave a congratulatory speech to nominee Mickey Rourke as part of the best-actor award presentation — an event that made the Academy Award winner a touch nervous.

"I am such a fan of Mickey's, I wanted to do him justice," Kingsley says. "And I also wanted to get across that, as much as acting can get trivialized, it really is hard work. Mickey takes his job really seriously. I felt I had a real responsibility to present him properly."

No one was a bigger winner, though, than the cast and crew behind Slumdog. Count among the film's fans 300 star Gerard Butler, who was attending his third John party.

"Slumdog was such an uplifting movie, it's hard not to love it," Butler says. "I haven't pulled so hard for a movie to do well since 300, and that wasn't nominated for anything."

The 17th annual party, which has raised more than $20 million for the foundation, featured a performance by John and an auction that fetched $20,000 for the stand Hugh Jackman used for his opening Oscar number. John also auctioned himself off as a date to a Vanity Fair party; the winning bidder coughed up $60,000.

That opening hooked American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

"I thought Hugh did an amazing job," says Jackson, a regular at John's gala. "The singing, the set designs, all of it. It was just right. I'd have definitely given him a ticket to Hollywood, 100%."

Another music veteran, Josh Groban, was equally impressed with the show — and party.

"What I love about this party is Elton does a great job of combining a party with doing something worthwhile," Groban says. "It's not just a party atmosphere."

Groban says he also has come to respect the Academy Awards.

"It's not like the Grammys, where they have something like 140 awards and you walk away with a hundred of them," he says. "There's one best actor, one best picture. It really means something."

Indeed, even non-entertainers who watched the ceremony of John's party at the stylish Pacific Design Center say they were captivated by the Oscars.

"I"m not a huge movie buff, but it makes me want to make the transition into acting," says Dallas Cowboys star receiver Terrell Owens. "This is a good way to see some of these people up close and get an idea of what they do. I think I'd be good at it."

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PostSubject: Re: Elton John's Oscar party celebrates winners, charity   Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:31 pm

G is seen at Elton's thing you can count on every year...
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