THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6
I’ve flown to Los Angeles for the Oscars. Susanna Reid and I will be presenting a live three-hour Good Morning Britain special shortly after the Academy Awards end on Sunday night.
LA’s a fantastic place to be when the Oscars are on, the whole town buzzing with movie stars and endless glamorous parties.
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Oscars night. ‘LA’s a fantastic place to be when the Oscars are on, the whole town buzzing with movie stars and endless glamorous parties,’ Piers writes
David Schwimmer, right, and Dylan McDermott, left. Piers mistook McDermott for Schwimmer and congratulated him on the Friends reunion
Sadly, one of its greatest residents, Kirk Douglas, died yesterday aged 103.
This lunchtime, I walked through the legendary Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where we’re filming our show, and saw an empty table with Kirk’s photo. It was where he always sat during regular visits, and his favourite meal had been placed next to him: hamburger, fries, a martini and some cookies.
‘Fame is as much about luck as it is about talent,’ he once said. ‘Perhaps more.’
True. But it’s also about making the most of that luck, and few did that more successfully than Kirk Douglas. RIP.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Big news back home – my ITV colleague Phillip Schofield has come out as gay during an emotional interview with his work wife Holly Willoughby on their show This Morning.
I’ve known Phil for more than 30 years, and in fact even wrote an unofficial biography of him back in 1992 entitled: To Dream A Dream: The Amazing Life Of Phillip Schofield.
A group selfie with Tom Hanks, Salma Hayek, Gerda Maritz (Charlize Theron’s mother), Regina and Reina King, Charlize Theron and Rami Malek
Needless to say, I missed one rather important aspect of his amazing life. ‘You must be feeling a little discombobulated,’ I texted him. ‘But never has the phrase “better out than in” seemed more appropriate. Honesty is always the best policy in matters of the heart.’
‘Discombobulated is definitely the right word!’ he replied. ‘It wasn’t easy but for the first time in a long time, I feel a little lighter of the heart.’
‘By the way,’ I responded, ‘is it too soon for me to rush out an updated version of my seminal tome about your life?’
‘Go for it!’ he said, ‘though you might need to rewrite the end…’
Coming out is tough enough for any gay person, but to do it in the full glare of millions of TV viewers and subsequent media frenzy is even tougher.
I wish Phil and his family all the best.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8
The hottest Oscars party used to be the big Vanity Fair bash after the awards, but it has lost its lustre in recent years because they let in too many civilians (ie non-celebrities), and most of them just don’t know how to behave around big stars.
Now the most coveted ticket in town is the ultra-exclusive Charles Finch and Chanel pre-Oscars dinner at the Polo Lounge (today’s Los Angeles Times gushed: ‘While an Academy Award is considered the top prize for achievement in film-making, an invitation to Charles Finch and Chanel’s dinner party the night before the Oscars might just be a close second’), and this year I was thrilled to receive my first invitation to it.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Camila Morrone. Leo gave Piers industry advice to pass on to his son, who is an aspiring actor
Margot Robbie’s up for an Oscar for her performance in Bombshell, about the Fox News #MeToo scandal involving the network’s former boss, Roger Ailes
Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellwegger and Brad Pitt. Piers writes: ‘Our GMB Oscars special, which ended at 1am local time, was a lot of fun’
‘I think I may have made a total fool of myself,’ I said. ‘No change there then,’ said Joan Collins
Charles is a ridiculously well-connected British film producer, entrepreneur and bon viveur. His father was Peter Finch, the late, great star of one of my favourite films, Network, in which Peter played enraged TV news anchor Howard Beale, who fulminated daily about the irritating absurdities of life with the seething mantra ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!’ (I feel a big affinity with Mr Beale!)
There are only 150 seats to the dinner, and Finch chooses guests carefully. ‘We have a real mixture of people,’ he explained. ‘A politician, a duke, a movie star, an interesting writer, a painter.’
Celia and I arrived to find a drinks reception in full flow on the beautifully decorated patio, which already contained myriad stars (within 20 seconds I spotted Demi Moore, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Harvey Keitel and Penélope Cruz) being served cocktails and canapés on silver platters as a mariachi band filled the air with lively Mexican music.
‘What did I do to deserve a golden ticket?’ I asked Charles.
‘I love you on Good Morning Britain!’ he replied. ‘I watch it all the time and you speak so much common sense. Please keep calling out all the nonsense – I agree with everything you say.’
Top designer Ozwald Boateng came over to say hello. ‘You want to know what I’m wearing, don’t you…’ I said. ‘I can see what you’re wearing,’ he chuckled. ‘Unfortunately, it’s what’s beneath the suit that’s the problem. But don’t worry, I can fix that by lifting the man boobs, Spanxing up the stomach, etc.’
Friends star David Schwimmer walked past. It’s just been announced that the cast is reuniting for a one-off HBO special, for which they will each be paid £3 million.
‘Congrats!’ I exclaimed, shaking his hand.
‘Thank you,’ he replied, looking puzzled.
‘What an amazing deal… have you worked out how much it is per second yet?’
‘Erm, no,’ he half-smiled with an even more bemused expression.
‘Well good luck with it – the whole world’s going to explode when you guys get back together.’
‘Right. Thanks.’ Now he just looked completely mystified.
‘Who was that?’ asked Celia.
‘David Schwimmer,’ I replied.
‘That’s not David Schwimmer!’ she laughed derisively.
‘It is,’ I insisted.
‘It’s not,’ said Ozwald.
I looked back at Schwimmer, caught his eye and he nodded. But a scintilla of doubt was now creeping into my previous certainty.
As we walked inside for dinner, I saw Margot Robbie. We’d never met, but my theory with famous women that are beautiful is that they always rather like people introducing themselves, because most feel too intimidated to do it. ‘Margot!’ I bellowed, a little too excitedly. ‘Hi, Piers, nice to meet you!’ she replied, exuding instant Aussie warmth.
‘Do you like cricket?’ I asked.
It was her turn to go all Schwimmer-confused on me. ‘Yes, a bit… why?’
‘I only talk cricket when I meet Australian actors at Oscars parties.’
She laughed. ‘I see. How many have you done this with?’
‘You’re the third after Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. I spoke to them about the Ashes a few years ago.’
‘Ah, well I’m not really that expert in the Ashes. I don’t actually watch much cricket, but I do like to play it in the garden.’
Margot’s up for an Oscar for her performance in Bombshell, about the Fox News #MeToo scandal involving the network’s former boss, Roger Ailes. ‘I really enjoyed it,’ I said. ‘I’m friends with Megyn Kelly [an ex-Fox anchor played by Charlize Theron, who helped blow the lid on Ailes’s appalling treatment of female staff] and thought you guys captured it all very well.’
‘Thanks. I just hope it makes a difference and changes things for the better.’
Inside the dinner, I bumped into Dame Joan Collins and Minnie Driver. ‘I think I may have made a total fool of myself,’ I said.
‘No change there then,’ said Joan. ‘What this time?’
‘Is there an actor here who looks like David Schwimmer?’
‘Yes!’ said Minnie. ‘Dylan McDermott.’
I frantically pulled out my phone, Googled McDermott, star of American Horror Story and The Practice, and my heart sank.
‘Oh jeez, that’s the guy… I just spent five minutes congratulating him on the Friends reunion.’
Joan and Minnie exploded laughing. My humiliation was complete.
I sat at a small table with five others, including Chernobyl and Mad Men star Jared Harris, who agreed with my assertion that Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest modern actor.
‘He was offered most of my big roles before I did them, including the one in Chernobyl,’ he smiled ruefully. ‘Thank God he retired!’
The five-course menu included a dish named ‘roasted cauliflower steak’ and I feared we were going to be subjected to another virtue-signalling ‘plant-based’ load of inedible gruel designed to make us all feel better about saving the planet.
Thankfully, other options included real steak and chips, fried chicken and, for dessert, ‘Marilyn’s mint chip ice cream sundae’, with malted milk foam, hot fudge and sour cherries, which apparently Marilyn Monroe ate every time she dined at the Polo Lounge.
Huge names sat all around us, including Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos. We had lunch together 20 years ago when I was editor of the Daily Mirror and he told me then that newsprint would be obsolete within a decade and we’d all be reading papers on small electronic tablets. When I said workers like builders would never want that because they couldn’t bend them into their back pockets like a paper, he said there’d soon be technology for bendy tablets too.
I scoffed at all his predictions, branding them ‘utter nonsense’.
But of course he was right about most of it, though newsprint’s still hanging on in there and, ironically, Bezos is now the owner of The Washington Post.
‘What happened to the bendy tablets?’ I asked him tonight.
His eyes lit up. ‘I remember that conversation! It’s actually proved much more difficult than I thought and we’re still a few years away from cracking it. But we will.’
I don’t doubt it – Bezos cracks everything he puts his mind to, which is why he’s one of the world’s richest men.
Leonardo DiCaprio walked past with his girlfriend Camila Morrone.
During last year’s GMB Oscars special, Vinnie Jones embarrassed me live on air by saying he’d nipped into the Polo Lounge where DiCaprio was drinking, mentioned my name, and Leo had no idea who I was.
‘Of course he does!’ I insisted. Now I could test the claim for myself. ‘Leo!’ I said.
‘Piers!’ he replied, with a friendly grin.
Eat that, Mr Jones.
‘Can you do me a favour?’ I said.
‘Sure, what is it?’ Leo replied.
‘My middle son Stanley, who’s 22, is an actor fresh out of drama school and you’re one of his heroes.
‘Can you give me one bit of advice for him that will really help?’
He thought for several seconds, then replied: ‘Yes, I can. He needs to go see a guy named Larry Moss. Best acting coach in the world. He does a small number of workshops a year and they’re life-changing.’
‘Wow, he’s that good?’
‘He’s that good. Changed my life for sure.’
I checked out Moss later, and he helped DiCaprio prepare for his roles as Howard Hughes and Jordan ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Belfort. He’s also taught many other big stars, including Jim Carrey and Helen Hunt.
Moss’s mantra? ‘Everything I’m teaching you about acting has one aim only: to fire you up emotionally and behaviourally, so that you can give a vivid, involving and memorable performance.’
Susanna, who was staying at the hotel where I was partying, texted to ask how it was going. ‘One of the best I’ve ever been to,’ I replied, truthfully.
‘So happy for you,’ she said. ‘My evening’s been just as great. I had a spray tan that was so over the top I’ll now have to spend hours scrubbing most of it off, and when I got back to the hotel they wouldn’t let me use the lift until I could prove I was staying there.’
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10
Our GMB Oscars special, which ended at 1am local time, was a lot of fun, with a highly entertaining Dame Joan Collins and Sharon Osbourne competing for the Most Outrageous Panellist award.
Sharon managed to drop the F-word after only three minutes, thinking she was off-mic, and then exploded into giggles as she tried to apologise.
Joan, meanwhile, blew up Twitter by saying ‘everyone who knew’ Phillip Schofield ‘knew he was gay’.
I’m not sure that’s entirely true, though the news didn’t massively surprise me.
Tonight I was invited to dinner at the beautiful Bel Air home of my old boss Rupert Murdoch and his wife Jerry Hall.
Other guests included Anjelica Huston and, of course, Dame Joan, who parties harder than anyone I know. We drank fine wine, ate delicious food and noisily debated everything from Meghan Markle and Donald Trump to Brexit and Harvey Weinstein.
It was the perfect way to end a great Oscars week.
‘I’m exhausted!’ sighed Joan, who may be 86 but like Rupert, 88, is utterly indefatigable.
‘Worth it though, right?’ I laughed. ‘Oh God yes!’ she replied.
‘Best week of the year.’