Election night partying with Ben, Gwyneth, Ethan, Uma, Sigourney...

Thurman has a m-m-moment; Hawke gets huggy; Affleck and Paltrow have heated whisper session. Plus: Who said, "It all went downhill when they gave women the vote"?

By Amy Reiter

Published November 8, 2000 6:05PM (EST)

No one learned who the next U.S. president would be at the Talk/Bloomberg/Miramax election party Tuesday night at Elaine's, New York's famed watering hole of the glitterati. But I did manage to make some remarkable discoveries as I surveyed the celebrity-packed restaurant.

Attendees included Jennifer Lopez (sans Puffy), Barbara Walters, Chevy Chase, Sydney Pollack, ex-New York Mayor David Dinkins, opera diva Jessye Norman, Barry Diller, Diane von Furstenberg, Russell Simmons, Anna Deavere Smith, Sigourney Weaver, and Leonard and Evelyn Lauder, just to name a few. Hosts Tina Brown and her husband, Harry Evans, Harvey and Eve Weinstein and Michael Bloomberg presided.

Discovery No. 1: Forget the kiss-kiss. Ethan Hawke is a hugger. Big time. Men, women, he doesn't seem to care. One second he was embracing fellow actor Joe Pantoliano, and the next moment he had his arms wrapped around a big-haired woman I took to be a publicist.

The scraggly maned actor was wearing a bright red shirt with some kind of sparkly sequin action on it I figured had to hurt in a clinch. So I was a little afraid when my buddy Howard Mortman, the National Journal columnist and political comedian who was up from Washington to soak in the NYC election-night scene, approached Hawke with a question on his way to the men's room.

"What brings you here tonight?" Howard asked Ethan, bravely getting close enough to hug.

"An undying passion for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton," replied Hawke.

At least someone thinks they're huggable.

Discovery No. 2: Something's up with Uma Thurman. (Not enough hugs from husband Hawke?) When I gently approached her for a comment, her eyes flashed, her hand flung out protectively in front of her and she shakily informed me that "this really, really isn't a good moment for me."

Um ... OK.

Discovery No. 3: Ben Affleck appears to have gotten over his Secret Service sex fantasy. Although Elaine's was crawling with earpiece-sporting agents in anticipation of the Clinton visit that never quite happened, the actor seemed to have eyes only for his on-again/off-again squeeze Gwyneth Paltrow.

Evidence that, despite their mutual (and constant) insistence that they're "just friends," they're on again? One moment the two of them were on opposite sides of a table and then -- blam! -- they were practically on top of each other, retreating into a far corner for what looked like a rather heated whisper session -- mouth to ear, mouth to cheek -- oblivious to the commercial for their upcoming film, "Bounce," that at one point played on the huge TV screen directly over their nearly melded heads.

Then again, Affleck does like to get awfully close. When he generously agreed to speak to me about the election (yes, he really did sound that intelligent), he moved in enough for me to smell the cigarettes and wine on his warm breath. (Can the "hot air" jokes, Nader fans.)

Discovery No. 4: If you didn't know she'd just written "Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise-Ass," a book about her struggle with sarcoidosis, a disease of the central nervous system, you'd think Karen Duffy had never been sick a day in her life. Not only did the former MTV veejay and current Revlon model and actress look like the picture of health as she made the rounds and smiled for the constantly flashing cameras, she was one of the few people in the room who seemed to be sincerely interested in the state and local election results that were rolling in through the night. I guess that makes her something of a model citizen, as well.

Discovery No. 5: It's hard to find a Republican in a room full of actors and writers. And while the room cheered for Sen.-elect Clinton and gasped when George W. Bush appeared to surge ahead in the presidential race, one brave man was heard to comment to a New York Post reporter, "It all went downhill when they gave women the vote." He may have been serious.

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A president's disgust

"The press was obviously pro-Bush from the beginning. They just did not like Al Gore. And the way they treated him was disgusting."

-- President Clinton to a group of Talk/Bloomberg/Miramax partyers who made their way to his and Hillary's suite at New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel around 1 a.m. on election night.

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Miss something? Read Tuesday's Nothing Personal.

Amy Reiter

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