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Hold the Free-Range Chicken and Creamed Kale: Tom Hooper Celebrated at Michael's

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Having dined royally on Les Miserables, a musical that has its characters literally singing and starving to death, well-wishers came together for lunch at Michael's on Tuesday -- four tables worth in the garden room -- to congratulate Tom Hooper on his stellar achievement directing this film. But, why now, the day of the National Board of Review awards where the Les Mis ensemble would be honored, and a few days before Oscar nominations would be announced?

For party planner Peggy Siegal the morning was especially fraught. Realizing that the Directors Guild of America awards would be announced at the same time as lunch, she pondered a potential faux pas. What if Tom Hooper was not nominated? Wouldn't that spoil the meal? What an embarrassment! She called upon Showbiz411's Roger Friedman, a hands on problem solver who quickly got in touch with this year's DGA head, director Taylor Hackford. Encouraged that the party could go on, Friedman made his way to Michael's.

In the meantime, knowing a thing or two about how this process works, Tom Hooper paced in his hotel room, staring at the phones. If he had been nominated, Hackford would have called two hours before, to prepare him for the good news. Just as Hooper was deciding that not being nominated was a big relief, the phone rang at four minutes to lunchtime. Hackford had not called earlier knowing Friedman would be at lunch with Hooper, and not wanting the news to break early.

Now hosts Boaty Boatwright and Siegal's whole idea of lunch seemed, well, prescient. Eddie Redmayne, the movie's Marius, gave his views of what makes for a good director: one who gives his actors the freedom to be spontaneous. The only thing more nerve-racking, said Hooper of the morning's drama, was actually making a movie.

As to the DGA awards, Hooper joins Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Ang Lee, and Ben Affleck for this honor. Omitted were Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and most serious, a favorite: David O. Russell.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.