Party Before the Storm

Just days before the Oscars, the acclaimed screenwriter of Milk -- Dustin Lance Black -- gets his own golden moment.

BY Neal Broverman

February 17 2009 1:00 AM ET

On Sunday night Oscar
excitement in gay Hollywood reached a penultimate
crescendo -- it'll peak at the actual event next
Sunday -- when
Milk

's Academy Award-nominated

screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, was feted by Levi
Strauss and an army of fans, supporters, and
activists.

At West Hollywood's
Nobu restaurant, Black was warmly thanked
for successfully bringing Harvey Milk's story to a
film script after many aborted attempts. His labors
yielded last year's eight-time-over
Oscar-nominated movie, directed by Gus Van Sant, who was also
honored but had to cancel his appearance at the last minute.
Attendees including Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass, Jane Lynch
(
Best in Show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin

), Simon Baker (
L.A. Confidential, The Mentalist

), Cleve Jones, and Milk's campaign manager, Anne
Kronenberg, made up for Van Sant's absence.

"I'm getting
so many messages on Facebook," Black said, referring to
the outpouring of gratitude he's received for writing the
screenplay. Black said he hoped the film would do well
at next Sunday's Oscars for pragmatic reasons --
every time the movie picks up an award (it already has 12 major
honors) its distribution grows, and more people discover one of
the first gay men elected to major political office in the
nation.

Party sponsor Levi
Strauss was also the supplier of all the dungarees
worn in the film, and the company's dashing gay
president, Robert Hanson, helped introduce Black at
Sunday's party, along with Jones, who worked as an intern
for Milk and was portrayed in the film by Emile Hirsch. Jones
spoke specifically about Black's persistence in getting the
story of
Milk

right. The soft-spoken Black made a short speech in which he
thanked everyone for showing their support for the film. He
later said that Hanson and Jones stole all his lines and
admitted he's wearing Tom Ford to the Oscars.

Anne Kronenberg, who
now works as a health official in San Francisco, described the
surreal experience of seeing herself portrayed on film
(Canadian actress Alison Pill plays the young Kronenberg).

"That scene when I
walk into the campaign office and tell all those boys not be
scared of me was just how it happened," she said.

Tags: film

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