Yesterday on March 2, Examiner.com was on the scene at the Official Oscar Night Viewing Party & Dinner at Daniel. Notables in attendance included The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences New York Events Director Patrick Harrison, Chef Daniel Boulud, S. Epatha Merkerson, Norm Lewis, actor Jordan Charney, StrategyPR's Cynthia Swartz, playwright Nancy Charney, actors and directors Vondie Curtis-Hall and Kasi Lemmons, animator Candy Kugel, Chuck Honeywell, Ross Williams, director Dawn Porter, Director for Hamptons International Film Festival David Nugent, actress Rutanya Alda, MOMA chief curator of film Rajendra Roy, writer and director Shawn Christensen, director Ira Sachs, Jordan Charney, Emily Sydney Smith and Picturehouse CEO Bob Berney, to name a few.
"We’re here for the second year in a row at Daniel’s wonderful restaurant, and we’re celebrating Oscar night in New York. Hopefully some of our New York nominees will come home with the Gold Man, and it’s just going to be a night of fun, of festive eating, drinking, and enjoying the show," Patrick Harrison told Examiner.com. "I think New York is really important to Hollywood. We have some great talent here. Martin Scorsese is on the red carpet tonight, Meryl Streep is on the red carpet tonight and there are also documentary filmmakers who live right here in New York," Harrison added.
When we asked actress S. Epatha Merkerson her fondest Academy moment she said, "The first time I ever attended the Oscars was last year, as an Academy member, so I would say that was probably one of the most fun times and Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger," being there the whole thing you didn’t see was the crowd being on their feet after." Merkerson's favorite films this year were "Nebraska," then "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" in that order.
Director Ira Sachs was excited to be attending the party. "It’s kind of an institution to even be invited, I feel like I’m a part of history." His film "Love Is Strange," which he co-wrote and directed, stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple who gets married and as a result one of them loses their job. So what inspired the story? "My husband! I’m in a relationship that I can actually imagine blossoming and growing with time and that’s a first for me. I wanted to make a film that sort of spoke to that hope." Sachs added, "Alfred Molina is like the salt of the earth, the nicest man you’ll ever meet and technically one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. He and John Lithgow I think give performances unlike anything they’ve been asked or allowed to do for a long time. This was very exciting." Sony Pictures Classics will release the film at the end of August 2014.
We also spoke with acclaimed broadway actor and "Scandal" star Norm Lewis on the red carpet. He was very excited to be attending the Official New York Oscar party. "I’m here just working on some concerts. I have a concert next week at Lincoln center and I have some other things happening in the fire, I just finished an episode of "Blue Bloods." New York is the place to be," Lewis told us when we asked him what he's working on in New York. He also reflected on "Scandal." "Scandal has been amazing. I got so lucky to be a part of that show. Unfortunately, I’ve only had one episode this season. But it’s so infectious and you get addicted to that show. Getting a chance to work with Kerry Washington was a dream come true and she’s just an amazing person. So if Shonda will have me back I will be back in a moment's notice!"
Check out what Chef Daniel Boulud told us about the menu for the evening:
Tell us about the menu that you curated?
Chef Daniel: We want to make sure that people have a wonderful experience. It's at Daniel. Rather than give a multi-course meal, we composed a meal that will give them a lot of different tastes. So in the first course, there’s a little lobster salad with beets and horseradish and it’s a combination of sweet and spicy and briny a little bit. Then next to that it’s also a smoked salmon sturgeon and it’s a checkerboard with potatoes and smoked sturgeon and leeks and it’s wrapped in nori and that has a little bit of smokiness and sweetness. With that next to it, there’s also a potato and leek veloute with caviar. So that’s the sweet taste coming in one dish. Then after we have a chicken and truffle, with some winter vegetable and an albufera sauce…then the taste of cheese.
How long have you been working on tonight's menu?
Chef Daniel: Well, we have been working on it for at least a month. Last month, we had a tasting and we discussed it and they liked the direction we were taking and often we like to know who are the nominees, so this way right after that we start working on the menu … and adapt it to some whimsical idea, so this year we decided desert would be a more whimsical connection than the food.
How excited are you to host the Official New York Academy Party at your restaurant?
Chef Daniel: I’m very excited, you know Sunday Daniel is closed normally, so it’s a great occasion and we only open for special events here. Next Sunday, I do have a big charity gala, but this Sunday it’s like a perfect match because it’s an early night, people come early, it’s a long evening, it's very glamorous, the food is great we have a lot of screens where we can watch it, people can see it from every angle.