Oscars statuettes are on display

Things We Saw Today: A Bunch of Celebrities Crossed a Picket Line for an Oscars Party

One of, if not the most exclusive, coveted post-Academy Award invites among celebrities is Jay-Z’s Gold Party. After taking last year off because of COVID-19, the party returned last weekend. And to the surprise and disgust of many, it was still held at its usual spot at the Chateau Marmont, despite the fact that there is an ongoing boycott and strike happening at the property.

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The iconic Hollywood hotel has been hit with numerous complaints (as well as lawsuits), alleging a culture of racism and discrimination, from the treatment of BIPOC visitors and employees, to failing to protect employees from sexual harassment and racist encounters with guests. There are also accusations that the hotel’s decision to lay off nearly its entire workforce in 2020—leaving staff without income or insurance during the pandemic—had less to do with COVID and more with workers’ attempts to unionize.

“For Jay-Z to choose the Chateau Marmont for their Gold Party is shockingly insensitive,” Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, said in a statement last week, per The Hollywood Reporter. “They must move their event and choose an afterparty hot spot that treats its workers, especially Black women, with dignity and respect. Jay-Z has a responsibility to do better.”

But Jay-Z didn’t move the party, and appears to have simply chosen to ignore the union’s pleas, as well as all requests from media looking for comment. Even more disappointing is the number of A-list celebrities who decided to attend the party, even though they had to cross a picket line to do so.

THR described the scene those guests encountered upon their arrival:

The group of 75-plus protestors, organized by the UNITE HERE chapter, featured a mix of former Chateau Marmont employees, hotel union members, student activists and left-leaning entertainment industry workers. They initially fanned out around the perimeter of the property, looking to cover possible alternate VIP entry points, including a path through the former Chateau Hanare omakase restaurant at the east end of the property as well as a narrow walkway through the exclusive Bungalow 3 abutting Monteel Road to the north. Early arrivals were met with shouts of “Shame on you!”

But by the 11 p.m. start time, activity was clustering along Sunset Boulevard, where the Gold Party’s main entrance funneled guests inside a lounge space formerly known as Bar Marmont. Private security personnel and nearly two-dozen LAPD officers cordoned protestors behind barricades to a corner of sidewalk abutting Selma Avenue. There, they aimed to catch the attention of the fleet of black Cadillac Escalades and GMC Yukon Denalis slowly pulling up, then idling, in the lengthy valet line.

THR also named names, and good on them for doing so.

“The party went on despite the protest. Janelle Monáe and Saweetie soon arrived,” the outlet writes. “They were joined by, among others, Emily Ratajkowski, Daniel Kaluuya, Kim Kardashian, Timothée Chalamet, Rosario Dawson, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, Tiffany Haddish, Tyler Perry, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Zoe Kravitz. Questlove was inside spinning “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as his best documentary Oscar — which he’d won earlier in the night for Summer of Soul — stood sentinel at his DJ rig, as seen on his Instagram account.”

It appears some of those guests—all of whom, by the way, would be members of the SAG-AFTRA union themselves—may have arrived after protesters left at 1 am, meaning they technically wouldn’t have crossed a literal, physical picket line. (Rosario Dawson tweeted as much in defense of her attendance.)

Still, it seems unlikely that they wouldn’t be aware of the boycott that has been underway for so long. A boycott pledge has been circulating for at least close to a year, and has been signed by a ton of prominent celebrities.

The THR article noted that not every guest chose to ignore the protestors:

The protestors passed out leaflets and cajoled arriving guests. A union representative said Casey Affleck, after hearing about the protest from the organizers, gave a thumbs-up and turned away from the party. A rep for the protest also said that LaKeith Stanfield told the assembled group, “I respect what you’re doing.” (It’s unclear if he later went inside.)

It is a dark day when Casey Affleck is the best example of good behavior in an entertainment news story.

What else did we see out there today?

  • The Bridgerton spinoff has cast its young Queen Charlotte and a number of other roles. (via THR)
  • And Bridgerton proper has been renewed for two more seasons. (via Twitter)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts paired up with e.l.f. for a new makeup collection. (via ComicBook.com)
  • Facebook paid a Republican consulting firm to smear TikTok in the media and online. (via Washington Post)
  • Chicago’s alternative paper says farewell to The A.V. Club as the company makes its incredibly shitty forced move to LA. (via The Chicago Reader)
  • In heartbreaking news, Bruce Willis is ending his acting career after being diagnosed with aphasia, “which is impacting his cognitive abilities,” according to his daughter. (via Variety)
  • Madison Cawthorn told Republican leadership that his claims of lawmakers hosting orgies and doing coke were either exaggerated or made up but those are two very different things.

(image: Richard Harbaugh – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.