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CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES!!!

From Duke’s to the Dume Room, locals partied down on New Year’s Eve, with a wide range of celebratory venues to choose from. Granita, with its Rat Pack-retro theme, was one of the more festive shindigs. The place was decked out with red and silver balloons the size of medicine balls, green-felt gaming tables and a sea of streamers. Jennifer Naylor got in the spirit, sporting a vintage-70s white Elvis pantsuit, complete with a ruffled baby-blue tuxedo shirt.

Locals like Rich Fox, Candace Brown and Zuma Jay cut it up on the dance floor to time-honored tunes like “YMCA,” “Celebrate” and “Boogie Nights.” Wolfgang Puck made the rounds, greeting the guests as servers delivered a feast of Oysters Rockafella’, Clams Casino, Lobster Thermidor and Banana Souffle. At the stroke of twelve, we toasted the New Year with champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

It was the capper to a year of fab fetes. Here are my top picks of 2003…

Most Awe Inspiring – AFI’s Tribute to Robert De Niro

A chance to get up close and personal with the man called the greatest living actor of his generation had even big name celebs all agog. The star-studded event drew some of the biggest names in the biz including Edward Norton, Jodie Foster and Martin Scorsese, with a special performance by bootylicious beauty, Beyonce.

Most Elegant – Disney Hall’s Big Debut

The opening of Disney Hall was unquestionably the A-list invite of the year. In fact, it took three nights for us to complete the celebration. The first night featured classical selections by the L.A. Phil, night two went off into the avant-garde and night three, called Soundstage LA, was a salute to movie scores. The evening was hosted by heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with the podium shared by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Hollywood maestro John Williams. Bravo!

Most Appetizing – The Odyssey Dinner

Liane and Richard Weintraub opened the doors of their breathtaking Malibu estate to 30 very appreciative guests to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Chef Shannan Swanson Binder worked her epicurean magic, treating us to White Truffle Risotto, Oven Roasted Branzino and Poached Baby Pears. We were wined and dined in the elegant confines of La Villa Contenta as we listened to songbird Leata Galloway who gave it her all.

Royally Royal – The von Hessen Wedding

It was off to Deutschland in May for a three-day royal wedding. We made our way to a sumptuous schloss in Kronberg, where the fairytale hochzeit was held. The gasteliste was a who’s who of international royalty, everyone from IIHH Graf and Grafin Marcos von Oeyenhaussen Sierstorpff to Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Hippest Hollywood Night – LA Confidential’s Pre-Emmy Bash

We were lined up limo to limo at the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Boulevard at the Shelter Supper Club. S-and-M was the decor du jour at this affair, which brought out the likes of “Sex and the City” siren Kim Cattrall, professional pal Darren Starr and mega-producer- turned-cartoon character Bob Evans. Enormous dominatrix portraits decked the jet-black walls with thousands of blood-red rose petals scattered everywhere in sight. There were roaring fires and candles flickering by the dozen, providing a wild setting for an even wilder night.

Most Rockin’ Rage – Think Pink

Get this party started! An electrifying performance by Pink was the highlight of Motorola’s annual Toys for Tots bash at Conjunctive Points in Culver City. The racy pop tart belted out a full set of high-energy hits that brought us to our feet.

Biggest Aussie Possie – Nicole Kidman’s AC Award

American Cinematheque’s annual tribute dinner to the stunner from Down Under brought out big name co-stars as well as old mates from Australia. The evening featured a delightful selection of cinematic moments from Nicole’s stellar career, everything from her Oscar-winning performance in “The Hours” to her early days in Sydney. Even the gift bags had an Aussie theme, complete with cuddly koala bears.

We reveled in these good times and took them in by the score. So here’s to fun, health and happiness in 2004!