Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Last night I volunteered at the Ovation Awards. I do it every year when I am available. It felt great walking up to the Orpheum Theatre -- it seems so familiar to me by now, this site of many happy moments and memories!

It's where they film "American Idol" (I guess; I don't watch the show), so it's probably a famous icon to many people. It tickles me that I don't have that association at all.

When I arrived, I hooked up with Elizabeth, who has "supervised" me in previous years. She was more than thrilled to see me! She announced to all the other volunteers that I was a reliable "old hand" at this event, and invited them to ask me any questions, which several of them did.

Elizabeth gave a rundown of all the presenters this year, and the list wasn't very flashy. Gil Cates and Garry Marshall were about the only names I recognized. Neil Patrick Harris was emceeing again.

I took a shot with Neil last year, so I didn't think it was worth pestering him this year.

As showtime drew closer, I was standing in the alley with Elizabeth waiting for some late arrivals, and suddenly Annette Bening walked up. It took a few minutes to recognize her. What clinched it was when Warren Beatty joined her.


This was "Hollywood Royalty" as far as I as concerned. I stood there for some time, spying on them as it were.

(I suspect when you reach that level of celebrity you get used to people standing around staring at you while pretending not to all the time.)

They entered the theatre through the lobby, not backstage, and I began wondering why they had come. After all, the Ovations aren't exactly the Oscars, and we don't normally expect that much glitter to attend.

I went backstage and looked through the presenter lists. No clues there. I turned to someone and wondered aloud why Annette and Warren were there. She knew. Annette Bening was getting a career achievement award. Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh.... now I see.

During the ceremony, I was the winner escort. I'm the person who catches the winners when they come stumbling offstage into total darkness, disoriented, ecstatic, lost.

So I was there when Annette came onstage to accept her achievement award. Waiting.

I'm the one who beckoned her when she walked toward the wings. I reached for her hand, held it, congratulated her, and safely let her know, "I gotcha." Then I escorted her down the steep staircase where photographers and interviewers waited for her to grace them with her presence and show off her new Ovation award. And yes -- I confess -- at the bottom of the stairs I produced my contraband camera and asked someone to snap a picture of us together before the others got hold of her. Voila! And she went on her merry way without me as I returned to my shadowy duties.

But I wasn't satisfied. I wanted them both. As I caught other winners from the wings, I could easily locate Warren seated down front and center. I even saw Annette make her way back to her seat and join him. I knew exactly where they were. Yes, I was stalking them backstage.

When the show ended, I grabbed my bag and camera and beat a hasty path into the audience. There was a lot of milling happening around Warren and Annette, and they began walking straight toward me even as I made a beeline for them. Gulp! It was now or never!

I approached them bravely. I rapidly stated that I had been working backstage as a volunteer all night, and it would mean a lot to me to have a picture with the two of them, would they mind?

How could they refuse? I threw my camera to a stranger and asked her to take a shot. (I knew I would not get a second chance.) She hit the button, the flash went off, and I turned and graciously thanked this marvelous couple. (I really liked their vibe.)

I retrieved my camera and beat a shaky path to the bar to indulge in a free after-show drink. I called Robin, woke him out of a sound sleep in a hotel room in Dallas, and spilled my tremulous news.

I could barely hear him over the racket in the bar, which is probably fortunate since he tells me he was quite churlish to me. (Ignorance is bliss!)

Here's the shot. I'm very proud of it. What dya think? (I suspect I'm about the only person who got a picture together with them. Woohoo! My chutzpah paid off.)