Biggest Fest Party Ever?

For once, the traffic in Montecito wasn’t
during the afternoon rush or comprised of Venturenos and Angelenos
trying to make it home after a Santa Barbara workday or vacation.
Nope, last night, the cars lining up onto 101 were jammed because
the Olive Mill off-ramp served as the pearly gates
to the film fest’s post-Will Smith-as-Modern Master-event bash at
the Biltmore.

Photos by J’Amy

Film fest parties are famous for their glitz and fun factors,
and every year, the Modern Master party tends to
be the most blown-out affair. Last year, George
rocked the underground walls of the
not-yet-completed Granada Garage. Before that, Leonardo
put the Bacara truly on the star map. And the
year before that, Roger Durling‘s first as fest
director, director Peter Jackson was celebrated at a
swanky Montecito estate, with iced vodka luges and circus freaks
throwing fire in the air on the fringes of the partyscape.

Which is to say, every year, it gets harder and harder to top.
Lucky for the fest this year, the Biltmore was planning to have
it’s coming out party after tons of remodeling the same night, so
the ritzyness was largely provided by the Four Seasons resort
itself. The Biltmore party began around 8:30 p.m., just around the
time Leonard Maltin began asking questions of a
cheery, positive, and playful Will Smith. (Among
other revelations delivered by Smith, he noted that his role in
Six Degrees of Separation was likely the cause of his
first divorce, that he shied away from Ali for some time
fearing that he’d go down as the man who screwed up the boxer’s
legacy, and he was surprised that anyone who starred in Wild
Wild West
would be considered a Master.)

Word on the street was that the Governator was in attendance for
the Biltmore opening — which was celebrating the complete Ty
Warner-led remodel — but once the crowds from the film fest began
arriving around 10:30 p.m., Arnold was nowhere to be found. Perhaps
he had already slipped into the VIP room, where security was super
tight, unless you have the coveted silver wristbands. (Press were
denied with a special vigor and vigilance.)

For most of the numerous partygoers, once they braved the red
carpet and valet maze, the Biltmore opened up into quite the
funspot. Rumors has it that the party cost a whopping
. On to the left side past the lobby, where lunch is
usually served, a nice bar, warm lighting, and exquisitely crafted
appetizers and desserts kept many people happy. This was certainly
where the initial bash was held, for it called to mind the Old
World extravagance guaranteed by a Biltmore stay (or even dining
experience, for that matter).

But to the right of the lobby was where the party was really
going down. The high ceilinged room (try like 40 feet or so) took
on the appearance of a big city nightclub, with purple, blue, and
pink lights adding to the ambience. Scantily clad go-go dancers
rocked a half dozen silken cages as a deejay spun dance tracks to
appease multiple generations. The bar was in the rear, serving free
Imperia vodka and other concoctions and nearly atop the dancefloor,
which made for some curious jostling to get your booze.

Famous faces were around: Christopher Lloyd, Tim
Matheson, Ron Livingston
(of Office Space fame),
Chris Gardner (the inspiration for Will Smith’s
Pursuit of Happyness character), and then tons of faces
you recognized but were unsure of why. Local movers and shakers
were out in force, moving their booties to the music and shaking
their drinks when they got too low. Outside on the patio, the
younger folks puffed away at their smokes, discussing cultural
matters over American Spirits and Parliaments, vodka red bulls and

By 1:30 a.m., however, the bars were all closed, and folks were
being encouraged to vamoose. It was quite the extravaganza of
partying, and if you missed it, then you certainly missed something
big. How will they top it next year?


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