And All That Jazz!

updated 04/07/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2003 01:00AM

So much attention was focused on whether the Oscar ceremony would actually take place that some stars weren't sure what to do when it ended. "How do you get to the Governors Ball?" asked a bewildered Nia Vardalos, who sought Meryl Streep's help in finding the bash, held two flights up from the Kodak Theatre. As 1,650 guests streamed into the black-and-white ballroom, Josh Brolin tried in vain to coax girlfriend Diane Lane onto the dance floor ("I know you want to," he said, laughing). Meanwhile Jon Voight chased down Cuba Gooding Jr. to share a few stories about playing flag football with his neighbor Mark Wahlberg. "I built a field, and I believe that if you build it, they will come," said Voight, as Gooding chuckled. "Well, Mark Wahlberg showed up!" Chad Lowe, who had flown in from New York City, caught up with wife Hilary Swank, who arrived from Charlotte, N.C., where she is appearing onstage in The Miracle Worker. "The tone," observed Lowe, "has been respectfully subdued"—a theme that continued when the A-listers flocked over to the Vanity Fair party at Mortons. Stars filled their plates at the In-N-Out Burger mobile kitchen, and Julianne Moore downed Heineken straight from the bottle. Queen Latifah had to charm Vanity Fair organizers into admitting her two Harry Winston-assigned security guards, who were protecting Latifah's $3.5 million worth of Winston diamonds. Dodging partygoers who stomped on her train, Meryl Streep introduced Jennifer Lopez to her daughter Louisa. Keanu Reeves and Claire Forlani, set up by a mutual friend, huddled on a sofa, lost in conversation until the wee hours. Nicole Kidman was approached by a famous fan who said, "Hi, I'm Natalie Portman." Replied Kidman: "I know." The bubbly kept flowing until 2 a.m., but Kidman kept her eye on the clock for a different reason. "I have to work tomorrow!" said the actress, who was due back in New York City the next day to resume filming Birth. "My boss says so!" Alas, not even Oscar winners get to call in sick.

KIRSTEN DUNST cuddled with her boyfriend JAKE GYLLENHALL at the Vanity Fair bash.

Producer ARTHUR COHN cheeked out MERYL STREEP, who brought along her youngest daughter, Louisa.

Switching into a Bradley Bayou for Halston tux to party hop, QUEEN LATIFAH gave U2's BONO, who also went home empty-handed, a shoulder to lean on.

BEN AFFLECK and JENNIFER LOPEZ nuzzled all night in a cozy corner, only parting when she briefly hit the dance floor.

EVA AMURRI stuck close to mom SUSAN SARANDON (in Donna Karan) and TIM ROBBINS.

KATE HUDSON tore herself from hubby Chris Robinson to chat with SHERYL CROW.

FARRAH FAWCETT arrived and left with former beau RYAN O'NEAL, who loudly cheered on daughter Tatum when she appeared on the Oscar broadcast. "They're great friends," says Fawcett's rep.

At one point PETER O'TOOLE (with son Lorcan and daughter Kate) stuck out his tongue, which was red from the wine he'd had.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT took a licking to a Vanity Fair lollipop.

RICHARD GERE (in Armani) and CAREY LOWELL (in Valentino) beat the party rush with a 10 p.m. entrance.

ELTON JOHN and ANASTACIA (left, watching the ceremony on TV with MANDY MOORE) later joined John Mayer onstage for a rendition of John's hit "Bitch Is Back."

NICOLAS CAGE (in Versace), who went stag for the night, checked in with ED HARRIS (in Armani).

ANGELA BASSETT (right, with RACHEL GRIFFITHS) wore Cantu & Castillo Couture.

Among the guests: Presenter MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY and girlfriend MICHELLE SMITH showed up after the IN STYLE bash.

SALMA HAYEK (right) mingled with fellow Frida-ties BEATRICE DE ALBA, ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL and JULIE TAYMOR and noshed on pizza until 1:35 a.m.

Had she gone into labor on Oscar night, said ZETA-JONES, in a pregnant moment with producer MARTIN RICHARDS, "I would have watched from the hospital."

SWEET CHARITY
Under canvas and silk, Sir Elton throws an AIDS benefit

Decorated with 12,000 yards of raw silk and more than 70,000 daffodils, a grand tent in West Hollywood was the scene of the IN STYLE/AOL/Elton John AIDS Foundation fund-raiser (total: more than $700,000). Matt Dillon, Rachel Griffiths and 340 other guests enjoyed an early dinner (spinach-and-ricotta ravioli, veal chops and apple dumplings), followed by Oscar-watching and a concert by Elton John, Anastacia and John Mayer. Will & Grace's Eric McCormack won the Oscar pool—and a $3,000 watch. After the ceremony, Catherine Zeta-Jones stopped by with her own shiny prize. Said Sir Elton: "This is the best Oscars yet. Steve Martin should be knighted."

A FEW GOLD MEN
Miramax celebrates Chicago's six Oscars with a breezy bash

Catherine Zeta-Jones's feet were killing her, but she hung in at the Miramax party at the St. Regis Hotel until after 2 a.m. Diane Lane, sipping on a long-neck beer, made a quick cameo with Josh Brolin, skipping the mini pastries. And Patti LaBelle misplaced her green-apple martini. "Somebody stole it! It was right here," she said. "Oh well, that usually means it's time to go home."

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