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BAFTA tea party: Celebs do some stargazing of their own

January 17, 2010 | 12:12 pm

Anna You're not the only one who looks forward to ogling stars during awards season -- celebs do too. Big bashes throw together Hollywood types whose paths may not cross elsewhere, and sometimes you see odd couples in conversation.

Take BAFTA's annual Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Golden Globe nominee Quentin Tarantino huddled with Jane Fonda while directors and friendly competitors Jason Reitman and Tom Ford -- whose films "Up In the Air" and "A Single Man" have dueling Globe nominations in two acting categories -- had a lengthy Saturday afternoon schmooze.

The famefest was still awe-inspiring for younger actors. "I'm seeing the same people around and starting to get to know all these faces, and it's really kind of nerve-wracking," said Globe nominee and "Twilight" star Anna Kendrick, 25, who's nominated for her role in "Up in the Air."

"I keep wondering who let me into the party. Morgan Freeman introduced himself to me [at the Critics' Choice Awards] last night, and I made an idiot out of myself. I got completely tongue-tied."

For celebs, the relaxed tea -- courtesy of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts -- has become one of the most popular parties during awards season because it's one of the few where you won't find sequins or stilettos, stressful awards or droning speeches, just famous people in casual dress and buffets of tiny crust-free tea sandwiches and scones as far as the eye can see. (Of course, this was still Hollywood, so there were more Beefeater 24 martinis in evidence than teacups.)

Tarantino Alison Brie, of "Mad Men" and "Community," was mesmerized by the proximity of Paul McCartney, who's nominated for a best song Globe ("I Want to Come Home" from "Everybody's Fine"). "One of the fun things about going to these kinds of events is you never know who's going to turn up, and you see people who just knock you off your feet," she said. "I'm ogling Paul McCartney over there. I'm trying to work up the courage to say hello." And then she did.

McCartney wasn't the only actual Brit at the British event, even though the Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel seemed overrun with cast members from nominated TV series like "Mad Men" and "The Office."

There was one of the Brits from "Mad Men," Jared Harris, who also appears in the Harrison Ford medical drama "Extraordinary Measures" opening Friday. Harris, sporting a gray sweater and matching high-top sneakers, described his "Mad Men" character Lane Pryce as someone who "fell in love with America because he likes the idea that he can reinvent himself."

Sound familiar?

"I've been here since 1990," he said. "I know I'm saying this at the BAFTA tea, and it's sacrilegious to say this, but there used to be the idea that British television was considered right up there with the best in the world, but I don't think that's true anymore.

"The best writing that's happening right now is in American television. They take bigger risks than anybody else."

-- Irene Lacher

Photos: Anna Kendrick, top, and a relaxed Quentin Tarantino on the BAFTA tea red carpet. Credits: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press, top; Paul Buck / EPA, bottom.

We're live blogging and live tweeting the Golden Globe Awards, so follow us on Twitter (we're @LATcelebs) and Facebook for reports from behind the scenes, in the ballroom and at the after-parties.

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