02/10/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
It was power lunching without the pressure on Monday, as more than 100 Academy Award nominees gathered at a Beverly Hills hotel for a pre-Oscar lunch designed to break the tension of the annual awards show.
Among the guests who turned out for the fancy meal: Charlize Theron, whose performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster" earned her a Best Actress nod, and Clint Eastwood, Best Director nominees for "Mystic River," which received a number of nominations, including Best Picture, according to published reports.
The tone of this yearly meal is meant to encourage camaraderie among the nominees, and to help prepare for the big night, which is Feb. 29 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. As such, Oscar telecast producer Joe Roth counseled the attendees on how to behave at the upcoming ceremony, news service AFP reports.
For one thing, Roth said, keep acceptance speeches short. Those who exceed the 45-second limit, he added, will be cut off.
But aside from a few such admonishments, the mood at the luncheon was congenial. "To delineate who's the winner between any of you in these categories is show business," Roth told the crowd. "It's kind of ludicrous."
Among the other stars that turned out: Naomi Watts and Diane Keaton, both of whom received Best Actress nominations, Sean Penn, nominated for Best Actor for his turn in "Mystic River," and Benicio Del Toro, who was tapped for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "21 Grams."