Focus Features’ Oscar Party: The Buzz Breakdown

What’s interesting about Oscar parties is that whatever reason they’re thrown, they’re always about something else.

Consider Focus Features party on Saturday night, at EAT on Sunset. Sure, it had its stars: Heath Ledger?; check; Michelle Williams; check! And agents petting the stars. (CAA‘s Beth Swofford? Check!)

But while the ostensible purpose of the event was to celebrate the breakout success of “Brokeback,” the event’s de facto purpose was to offer a public forum for discussion on who’s to replace Stacey Snider now that she’s abandoned the chairmanship of Univeral Pictures for DreamWorks.

In between Eat’s eats (and who doesn’t love a little chestnuts-filled agnolotti napped in sage butter whilst prognosticating?), there were the succession predictions.

“You should have seen how David Linde was strutting about,” regales one of our spies, “He’s acting like he’s about to be offered The Job.” t_vcompany_stuber.jpg

The Job, of course has plenty of candidates: Would Focus’ chief give up a lot of autonomy for a little? Would it be Scott Stuber, Univeral’s former co-head of production, who recently became a producer on the Universal lot? Stuber’s the right candidate, but he’s not a terribly likely contender: Why give up a first dollar gross position on Universal movies for a suit job with lots of headaches and not nearly the financial reward?MarcShmuger.jpg

And then, over there, through those clouds of monkfish and pot roast surf-n-turf, Mark Shmuger Universal’s marketing guy cum vice-chairman. Many agents were gossiping that Shmuger would be damned if he’d be snubbed a second time.

Thank the maker for such a surfeit of Universal intrigue. With so many competitors in the room vying for The Job, hopefully it helped Heath and Michelle see that inescapably, for every winner, there’s got to be a few who lose out.