Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hollywood Awards Ceremonies

1998 was a big year for me with awards shows.

For the second time, I got to attend the Granddaddy of them all -- the OSCARS (check out my dress -- click it to enlarge it)!

Yes, I got to sit with all the stars and rub shoulders with them, right down there in the first 18 rows. The difference is, I was working. I was a seat-filler for the evening (if you call that "working"!).

When you're a seatfiller, they hold you offstage until the commercial break. When the stars leave the audience (either by winning or going onstage to present an award), the event producers don't want TV viewers to see all these empty seats on camera -- it doesn't look right! So they send seat-fillers in to make the audience look fully populated during every commercial break. When the star returns to his/her seat, whoops! You're outta there! You get back in line and wait for your next rotation. (Actually, the more times you rotate, the more different places you get to sit! It's really fun.)

Of course, the dreamiest moment is when YOU (the lowly seat-filler) actually appear on-camera amongst all those stars, and ma and pa watching TV at home in Smalltown USA get to see YOUR shiny face amongst all the stars. (I never got that lucky, sigh.)

Anyway, the two years I did it were when I was doing consulting work with The Walt Disney Company, who were also in charge of the broadcasts. Subsequently, the seat-filling was taken over by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and now you have to be an employee, or related to an employee, in order to score the privilege of seat-filling. (Sigh!)

So... back to my volunteer stories. We were -- in 1988 I believe? That year I also volunteered with the Los Angeles Ovation Awards -- a black-tie ceremony held annually to honor local stage productions. (It's the L.A. equivalent of the Tonys.) For this event, I was a celebrity escort, meaning I made sure certain stars got backstage properly in order to present an award.

During this event, I rubbed shoulders with Joan Van Ark, Mariette Hartley, Nathan Lane, Annette Bening, David Hyde Pierce, and CAROL BURNETT!!!! (Wanna guess which celebrity thrilled me the most?)

During Ovations ceremonies in years past, I've gotten to hobnob with Michael Jeter, John Ritter, Bill Paxton, Beau Bridges -- too many names to remember.

I did the Ovation Awards again in 2000, and this time met Patrick Stewart while escorting Millicent Martin around, and Kevin Spacey walked right past me backstage. (I'd have reached out to shake his hand, but I felt too icky groupy to do it.) I hung out in the dressing room with Linda Hamilton and Joanne Worley (she's a scream), and I rubbed shoulders (literally) with Gary Marshall.

The following year, I dragged my husband along to help me, and again volunteered at the Ovation awards. Our duties were to hover backstage and escort all the winners back to their seats. This time we were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gary Marshall, Joann Worley, Shirley Jones, and Paul Dooley. (Unfortunately, they banned all cameras backstage, so I can't provide proof!)

In 2003, we did the Ovations again (this is becoming a habit!). Lily Tomlin was the emcee, so we hung out with her and provided encouragement. As the evening wore on, she displayed signs of stress, so Robin gave her a neck and shoulder massage, which she really appreciated! Gives new meaning to the expression "rubbing shoulders with the stars"!

We also hobnobbed with James Farentino and Sally Struthers, both winners in their categories.

I was there against this year, sans husband, and here are some pictures to prove it! Let's see -- we have David Hyde Pierce:

Then there's Doug Savage from Desperate Housewives:

and last (but hardly least!), the host of the evening, Neil Patrick Harris. (Hey, I used to know Neil when he was too young to get into the Magic Castle and was assisting Ed Alonzo!)

I can hardly wait to see what interesting people show up next year!
(To learn who did, you can click the link here.)

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