If you're going to go to an Oscar party, make sure it's one involving J.R.R. Tolkien fans. On Sunday afternoon, the One Expected Party took over American Legion Post 43 for a Hobbit-centric event that lasted late into the night. We were only a couple blocks away from the Dolby Theater, but the vibe here couldn't have been more different. Amongst the usual men in tuxes and women in evening gowns, there were hobbits and elves and an assortment of other characters you thought you could only find in Middle Earth.
The One Expected Party is put together by Lord of the Rings fan site, TheOneRing.net, aka TORn. They throw Oscar parties any year that one of the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies has been in the running. Their first event took place at Hollywood Athletic Club when The Fellowship of the Ring was nominated. About 400 people attended the event, including director Peter Jackson. In 2004, the year that The Return of the King picked up a whopping eleven Oscars, the LOTR team headed down to TORn's party.
“We didn't go to Vanity Fair or any of the other things,” recalls Billy Boyd, who played the hobbit Pippin in the LOTR trilogy. “We meant to come here to say hello. We ended up spending the whole night.”
This year, Boyd was here with his band, Beecake, ready to play to a roomful of LOTR fans sometime after the Academy Awards telecast.
It cost fans $250 per ticket to get inside the event, and it took about $250,000 to make the party happen. According to Chris Pirrotta, one of the owners of the One Ring, the group probably picked up some debt. He didn't seem fazed by that, though. “We'll pay it off by next year and we'll have another party,” he says.
Pirrotta points out that TORn is “a completely not-for-profit fan organization.” They are fans who came together back in 1998 to build a site dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien's universe. Now, they're volunteering their time to make massive happenings like these a reality.
Pirrotta estimates that between 600 and 700 people made it to the event. That's less than attendance for the one that accompanied The Return of the King, but more than their first foray into the world of Oscar parties. Undoubtedly, many more fans caught the festivities via the live stream provided by TORn.
The event itself was a combination Academy Awards viewing session, dinner party and concert. Fans watched the broadcast from inside the theater, or in one of the venue's dining areas. During the commercial breaks, TORn's host, Clifford Broadway, brought guests like Georgia Allen, a make-up artist for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on stage for interviews. Actors/longtime Tolkien fans Chris Carwithen and Matt Musgrove performed Middle Earth drinking songs.
Wandering through the venue, I met people like twin brothers Shawn and Shane Gordon. Shawn is a special effects make-up artist who was helping out his friends in the band Dorian Mirth, one of the evening's performers. He also made hobbit ears and feet for himself and his brother. The feet were particularly impressive — large, hairy and quite lifelike. Earlier in the day, I engaged in a few magic tricks with a guy dressed as Gandalf the Grey. The event was more like a convention than a stuffy, semi-formal event.
With their Tolkien-centric parties, TORn has done something unique. They created a gathering for people who, like me, would probably never have the chance to go to a big-deal Oscar night event. It was fancy in a way that you might expect a big Hollywood soiree to be, but it was also unpretentious and a lot of fun. I'm already for The Desolation of Smaug party.