It’s good to be in Los Angeles during Oscar season because you get to attend events like the one Hitfix went to last night: a star-studded party held for “Crazy Heart” with performances by the movie’s Oscar nominees Jeff Bridges, T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham.
Did we mention yet that Sir Elton John joined them on stage, as did co-star/Oscar winner Robert Duvall and Harry Dean Stanton? And that fellow “Crazy Heart” nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and her brother Jake were grooving to the performances as were Jon Hamm, Jennifer Westfeldt, Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson and Peter Fonda?
Held at Vibrato, a restaurant/jazz club off famed Mulholland Drive and owned by Herb Alpert, the party, thrown by New West Records, which released the movie’s fantastic soundtrack, had no red carpet or paparazzi outside. Inside there were no VIP or roped off areas. We chatted with Burnett about running the Oscar gauntlet. He joked that he’s ready for the March 7 award ceremony to get here. “I wish I could be like a bear and just hibernate for the next three weeks.”
Burnett and Bingham are up for best original song for the “Crazy Heart” theme, “The Weary Kind.” You could practically imagine every Oscar voter in the room rushing home to mark his or her ballot for Team Crazy Heart after Bingham gave a weather-beaten performance of the song. Then Bridges, who is nominated for best actor for his performance of dissolute singer/songwriter Bad Blake, and Burnett took the stage, joined by Duvall, who sang “Red River Valley,” backed by Stanton on harmonica. Bridges and Burnett played the movie’s “Fallin’ & Flying,” which is a country hit just waiting to happen. Elton John hopped on stage to pound the ivories on “I Don’t Know,” also from the movie. (Sir Elton's connection? Burnett is producing John's new album with John's musical hero Leon Russell).
Content to take in the music from the balcony, Hamm and Westfeldt raved about the performance and the hidden away venue. “We couldn’t believe this place was in a strip mall with a kid’s clothing store,” Hamm said.
Also watching from upstairs was Judy Cairo, one of “Crazy Heart’s” producers, who admits the whole ride has been like a dream. As is now part of the movie’s lore, “Crazy Heart” was shot in fall of 2008 and was originally supposed to come out on Vantage, Paramount’s indie division. When Vantage shuttered, the movie was temporarily homeless until Fox Searchlight picked it up. Cairo had nothing but praise for how Paramount treated the movie as the film sought to find a new distributor. And talk about a 180-degree turn in subject matter: Cairo’s next movie is “Hysteria,” a comedy about the invention of the vibrator during Victorian times starring Rupert Everett and Jonathan Pryce. We’d like to hear what kind of song Bad Blake would write about that.