It’s been a happy party daze from coast to coast and beyond as big stars get dressed to the nines and hit the scene, celebrating everything about the arts as we roll into the holiday season. Plus, early awards shows portend the coming nominations from the Academy, the Critics Choice Association and the top guilds including SAG, DGA and PGA; and “Avatar: The Way of Water” made a huge late-entry splash into the contender’s bracket.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” World Premiere
Odeon Luxe Leicester Square, London
There have been buzzy premieres this season, but only one that has been 13 years in the making, as “Avatar: The Way of Water” made its splashy (get it?) world premiere in London. The rabidly anticipated sequel, which is once again co-written and directed by James Cameron, debuted with all the bells and whistles – including, instead of a red carpet, a watery blue carpet.
All the stars of the new film attended the premiere, including Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet, who earlier in the day wondered if we could figure out which of the Na’vi – the blue-skinned alien beings who populate Cameron’s psychedelic planet of Pandora – was her. “Could you tell it was me?” she asked. We said we did – about an hour into the movie’s massive, three-hour run time. (She plays a member of the water-based reef tribe.) Notably absent from the premiere was Bob Iger, the newly reinstalled CEO of Disney, which now owns and distributes the “Avatar” movies and has a giant theme park area devoted to the movies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.
The after party for the movie was held at London’s Natural History Museum, with blue lights illuminating the façade and a buffet of seaworthy snacks. The logic behind walking into a party in a foreign country and immediately slamming down some raw oysters remains fuzzy, but it is an island, after all. There were waiters passing around interesting hors d’oeuvres, too, like a delightful little tub of fried chicken (this being England, there was also half a quail egg in there for some reason). Celebrities who attended the afterparty included Cameron and his producer Jon Landau, filmmakers Edgar Wright and Colin Trevorrow and “Star Wars” franchise star John Boyega.
The party stretched out into the night and everyone stayed late – even Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis, ducked out after 1 a.m. But hey, when your movie is over three hours long, the festivities didn’t begin until nearly 11 p.m. Anything for “Avatar.” – Drew Taylor
“Till” Special Screening
Private Residence, Hollywood Hills
“Till” has been in release since late October, first in theaters and now on Digital, but Courtney B. Vance is dedicated to making sure that awards-season voters are keeping this topical film at the top of mind as nominating begins. The story of Emmett Till’s 1955 murder and his mother’s crusade to bring the racist perpetrators to justice is an intense one, and the film features a compelling central performance by Danielle Deadwyler as Emmett’s mother.
She attended the special screening hosted by Vance, along with civil-rights attorney (and Q&A moderator) Ben Crump, the film’s director-writer Chinonye Chukwu and a very special guest. Cher not only made the event the place to be, she used her social media following of four million fans on Twitter to get the word out. The Oscar-winning actress said Deadwyler’s performance was “the best I’ve ever seen,” and praised Whoopi Goldberg’s performance in the drama as well.
“Christmas with the Campbells”
The Edition, West Hollywood
Christmas came early courtesy of AMC+ at the West Hollywood premiere of “Christmas with the Campbells,” a raunchy Christmas comedy that is bound to make you chuckle, cringe and have hope for Christmas love. Starring Brittany Snow, Justin Long and a crowd of hilariously talented performers like Julia Duffy, who told TheWrap at the premiere what made her want to be a part of the project. “It sounded pretty wild when Vince (Vaughn) pitched it to me,” she recalled. “The interesting part is we did each scene two ways – the sincere Hallmark way and the raunchy way – but it all worked out.”
Co-writer/producer Vince Vaughn gave us all his secrets to creating a slightly off-kilter holiday flick. “We had the idea to have a traditional Hallmark writer involved (which we did), and afterwards we made the dialogue super adult and rated-R! And we made the cast improvise and make something fun and make something that hasn’t been done, we want everyone to laugh and feel good for the holidays.”
Vaughn’s partner in making a subversive Christmas comedy is Dan Lagana, who co-produced and wrote the film and easily admitted his affinity for Christmas movies, telling us that “The truth is I do love Christmas, so it’s easy and fun for me to do them.” – Elijah Gil
The Critics Choice Association’s 5th Annual Celebration
of Black Cinema & Television
Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, Century City
Since 1995, the Critics Choice Association has celebrated diversity, both in its membership rolls as well as in the films and television shows that it champions and honors. Now, almost 30 years later, the CCA is the largest critics organization in America (and beyond). During the past five years, the CCA has added special awards events that go beyond their annual Critics Choice Awards (watch for them on January 15 on The CW Network), beginning with the Celebration of Black Cinema & Television, the brainchild of Shawn Edwards, the film critic for WDAF-TV in Kansas City.
The celebration began as a small event, which has now blossomed into a joyful gala held in the packed ballroom of the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, with hundreds of stars and CCA members joining for a night filled with memorable moments.
From the heartfelt early speech from Brian Tyree Henry, honored for his performance opposite Jennifer Lawrence in “Casualty” with the Supporting Actor Award all the way to Angela Bassett’s triumphant acceptance of the Career Achievement Award, it was a night of raucous celebration.
“I stand before you in this room of people who truly raised me,” Henry, who was clad in the colorful-suit style of the night, said. “What I mean by that is that I was raised on television. I was raised on films. I just want to say thank you first and foremost to all of you for leading the way and giving me a place to belong. I’m truly honored to be here as [part of] a family reunion – which is why I came dressed as a slice of pecan pie!”
The 30-year-old actor certainly saw a lot of trailblazers in the room, ranging from Motown’s Berry Gordy (who received the Icon Award) to Billy Dee Williams, Courtney B. Vance, producer Suzanne De Passe and many others.
Adorable Quinta Brunson kept up her winning ways in 2022 as the creator and leading lady of “Abbott Elementary,” but continues to be vertically challenged, as the diminutive star caused a roar of laughter as she struggled to get the stage microphone low enough to match her size. “This is a little embarrassing,” she giggled, “you have to make adjustments for people under five feet tall!” Her size belies her talent, and she vocalized what a lot of people were feeling during the celebration.
“To be in room full of Black people is so powerful. It is unreal. There aren’t words for it, for the nourishment you get, the enrichment you get from being here,” Brunson exclaimed.
Every table had a familiar face, and many of the night’s honorees, including Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Danielle Deadwyler, Elegance Bratton, Gina Price-Blythewood, Dulé Hill and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, who took home the night’s Groundbreaker Award – and forgot to thank his mother, who was seated front and center. In the spirit of the night’s fun vibe, Cudi ran back on stage to make sure his mama knew what she meant to him, to the cheers of audience that all felt like that was the capper to the night’s “family reunion.”
The 32nd Annual Gotham Awards
Cipriani Wall Street, New York
The Gotham Film & Media Institute continued its long history of awarding independent thinkers in the film and television space at their 32nd Annual Gotham Awards in New York and the stars turned out in droves.
Some, like Michelle Williams and Adam Sandler, came to accept Career Tributes, while others (including Outstanding Supporting Performance winner Ke Huy Quan for his performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) took home statues awarding their work in 2022. Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), Gracija Filipovic (“Murina”), Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”) and Ben Whishaw (“This Is Going to Hurt”) were honored for their acting, while Todd Field (“Tár”) took home the writing prize.
Lots of other stars turned out to present the prizes or just join in the celebration of The Gotham Institute’s work, which “nurtures independent film and media creators, providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition.” Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Paul Dano, Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke and a host of others helped turn the Gotham Awards into a very big night in the Big Apple.
The 2022 People’s Choice Awards
Barker Hangar, Santa Monica
Who’s to say what audiences like best? The People’s Choice Awards, that’s who. Forget critics, Academy members, guild voters, these annual awards are voted on by the general public and give a terrific glimpse into what American audiences really want.
So it’s no surprise that Ryan Reynolds took home the People’s Icon Award, since after all, everyone loves that guy. Shania Twain scored the Music Icon Award and Lizzo, that fabulous force of nature, was crowned the People’s Champion.
It all went down at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, a perfect venue for a big show and aired live on NBC, which is part of the reason so many big stars turned out. Ellen Pompeo was on hand to accept the Female TV Star of 2022 prize for “Grey’s Anatomy,” while Billy Porter, Amy Poehler, Heidi Klum, Niecy Nash-Betts and many more turned out to present the numerous awards.
“Emily in Paris” Season 3 Premiere
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
“Emily in Paris” landed on the Champs-Elysées to kick off Season 3 of the stylish Netflix series, bringing a bevy of beautiful gals to the fête. Led by Emily herself (Lily Collins), the bash drew co-stars Kate Walsh, Philippine Leroy Beaulieu, Marylin Fitoussi, Ashley Park and Camille Razat, all dressed to the nines.
Series creator Darren Star also made the journey to the City of Light, along with a gang of the show’s male stars as well – Lucas Bravo, Samuel Arnold, Bruno Gouery, William Abadie, Lucien Laviscount, Arnaud Binard, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Paul Forman, Christopher Guybet and Kevin Dias.
Never one to miss a good party in Paris, Kim Cattrall joined Star, who helped cement her fame way back in 1998 when he cast her in “Sex and the City,” and even the U.S. Ambassador to France, Denise Campbell Bauer, stopped in for the fun.
“Willow” Series Premiere
Regency Village Theater, Westwood
It was a magical night at the premiere for the new Disney+ series “Willow,” which continues the tale of the eponymous 1988 cult classic fantasy flick. This new iteration produced by Ron Howard (who directed the original film) joins its hero Willow on yet another adventure. Warwick Davis returns to that role more than 30 years later, a bit older but still the farmer we love to root for.
Fans of the 80’s classic took to the red carpet wearing their most Willowesque costumes, with looks ranging from wizards, queens and many more of the iconic characters. Warwick Davis reassured us that this series is going to satisfy even the most rabid fans, saying, “You’re going to see things that are very familiar in the series, the humor, the epic nature of the series, the magic. It’s all there, and also an understanding of more about character you know and love from the movie.”
Newcomer to the “Willow” world Christian Slater also told TheWrap what it meant to be a part of the series. “I was very excited, I was intrigued, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the character. But once I read the script, I was excited! This is a world I’ve always wanted to be a part of and I can’t wait for the fans to enjoy it,” he said. – Red carpet reporting by Elijah Gil
“The Recruit” Series Premiere
AMC The Grove 14, Los Angeles
Holiday festiveness surrounded the premiere of Netflix’s new action TV show “The Recruit,” as The Grove shopping mall pulled out all the stops for the season. Fans gathered to get a glimpse of the stars under Christmas lights and fake snow falling from the sky, cheering on the cast that includes Gen-Z heartthrob Noah Centineo.
Centineo, who recently played Atom Smasher in the action blockbuster “Black Adam,” was met by screaming and adoring fans, and when we asked him what it felt like to be an action star, he grinned happily. “I think we’re taking steps” Noah joked to The Wrap. “It just feels good to be working and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
Centineo also gave us the scoop about a possible spinoff movie for Atom Smasher, revealing that his new DC Comics boss James Gunn hasn’t tapped him for that next step. “I haven’t spoken to him yet – but hey, listen, if fans demand it then I’m ready,” he said.
Alexi Hawley, the creator of “The Recruit,” told us he has no doubts that Noah Centineo is an action star and how happy he is to have his first choice of actor to play the lead. “Look, when you’re trying to set up a show and get something made around a character that’s 24 years old, there are only like three people that actually mean something! Noah is definitely one of them, so we were blessed that he loved the script and signed on,” Hawley explained. You’ll find “The Recruit” coming soon to Netflix on Dec. 16. – Red carpet reporting by Elijah Gil
Women in Cinema Gala at
The Red Sea International Film Festival
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The weather is gorgeous at the Red Sea right now, and box-office stars from across the globe flocked to Jeddah to be a part of the Red Sea International Film Festival. That’s where, for 10 days, international films unspool as well as more locally produced Arab movies that are highlighted in the Red Sea Souk subsection of the fest.
Saudi Arabia isn’t known for being a place where women thrive, so seeing a special “Women in Cinema” gala take center stage at the RSIFF seems like a tiny step toward change in that incredibly male-dominated country.
And the world’s famous international female stars turned out, representing countries from across the globe. From Priyanka Chopra Jonas (born in India) to Americans Michelle Rodriguez, Sharon Stone, Jessica Alba and Julianne Hough to Australian Elle Macpherson, Frenchwoman Melanie Laurent and Italian Carla Bruni, the women turned out to bring a different perspective of what it means to be female to what is normally seen in the kingdom.
Will women gathering at the Red Sea International Film Festival help change perspectives in Jeddah? Only time will tell, but on this night they certainly made quite a statement about who and what women are around the globe.
36th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards
Cipriani South Street, New York
All you need to do is say the word “shoes” and certain Hollywood stars come running, all the way to New York City to join the party honoring the people and companies that make our feet both beautiful and even comfortable, too. That’s what brought Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba to the gala held at Cipriani South Street, where they joined Christian Louboutin at the 36th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards.
Idris presented Christian with his Lifetime Achievement Award and Blake Lively (who is very pregnant right now) sent her own congratulations via video to the man who made red soles a luxury shoe trademark.
Designer Amina Muaddi took home the Designer of the Year Award for her fanciful women’s shoe creations and Dua Lipa proved she’s more than a singer, winning the Collection of the Year Award for her Puma x Dua Lipa Flutur Drop 2 collection created with collaborator Billy Walsh.
Jordin Sparks presented the Brand of the Year Award to Merrill Shoes, while a bevy of shoe lovers looked on, with Fergie, Nelly, Nicki Hilton Rothschild, Carmelo Anthony and Sugar Ray Leonard leading the pack on a night that was all about the feet.
PHILIPP PLEIN x Snoop Dogg #PLEINDOGG Sneaker Collaboration Launch Party
Plein’s Chateau Falcon View, Bel-Air
Speaking of shoes, Snoop Dogg isn’t just in the pot business anymore! He’s joined forces with designer Philipp Plein to create a two-shoe sneaker line called #PLEINDOGG and the duo had an exclusive party in Bel-Air to celebrate.
Plein opened up his guest house to show off the blinged and bedazzled kicks for those who like wearing Snoop’s name emblazoned on their feet; and it seems Tommy Lee of Motley Crue is the first in line to lace up a pair. He made the smoke-filled scene, as Snoop and friends danced the night away in those new shoes.
Be ready to pay the price for being a part of Snoop’s inner circle, however, as the Gothic-inspired sneakers go for $1259 in black and gold, and $5246 for the purple blinged-out version.
“I always admired Snoop’s skills and uniqueness of making music with an unforgettable memorable style and I wanted to celebrate it with a collaboration that brings together music and fashion” Philipp Plein explained. We’re not sure where the music comes in, but these are some unique shoes, that’s for certain.
Cann-Do Holiday Campaign Premiere Event
Snoop Dogg may be making shoes these days, but Rosario Dawson is behind the cannabis explosion, now that it is fully legal in California and beyond. That’s why she turned up at NeueHouse Hollywood for the Cann-Do Holiday event, talking up the benefits of Cann, the THC and CBD infused tonics. She’s an investor in the company, which looks to normalize drinking a bit of THC for an easy buzz.
Lake Bell joined the scene, for she’s directed a short holiday film starring Mickey Sumner that helps spread the love for Cann. Both turned up at the packed party, too, where everybody sipped a can or two of Cann instead of downing booze. That follows the ladies’ marketing plan, which is to convince the world that drinking a little cannabis is better for you than slurping down alcohol.
“My family used to grow pot on our fire escape,” Dawson revealed to the rapt crowd during a conversation with Bell, Mary Pryor of Cannaclusive, Socrates Rosenfeld and Luke Anderson, proving just how far things have come since the 43-year-old star was born in a NYC tenement.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2022
Various venues in Miami
We’re sure that Art Basel Miami Beach actually has something to do with actual art, but on the surface it seems like a perfect excuse to have exclusive parties all over town during the three-day extravaganza. Okay, there’s a huge art fair at the Miami Convention Center, but everyone knows that it’s really all about the parties and the luxury brands that vie for attention as the scene heats up at cool spots all over town.
Which is why Burberry and W Magazine held an exclusive bash that drew Kim Kardashian and Karlie Kloss and Hublot Watches threw down a shindig at the W South Beach hotel christened “Hublot Loves Football” that drew Dolphins standout Tyreek Hill into the fray.
Not to be outdone, Audemars Piguet, the Swiss watch company, gathered a crowd for their Starwheel Launch Event, and John Mayer turned up, only to run into Serena Williams at the soiree. And Yves Saint Laurent got into the scene, too, throwing a very exclusive pop-up beach party for Madonna, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of her “Sex” coffee-table book, which couldn’t help but serve as a reminder that the ultimate party girl is about to be eligible for Social Security. But age is just a number, even in Miami during Art Basel, so we hear that Madonna danced the night away at her party as pals like Zoe Kravitz joined in the festivities celebrating sex as art. Why not?
Please send event invitations to Jenny Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org