I don’t know whose eyes will eventually land on this article, and if it will be merely interesting or helpful (hopefully at least either one). But I’m writing it to convey as much of the limited learning that I’ve garnered so that if you reader are actually attending an award show, you will have the best experience possible, to the extent that my experience may be helpful.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been extended invitations to a delectable range of award shows. However, not as a nominee or connected with the results of the show. My company designs, manufactures and handles all the logistics of the actual sparkling trophies given away at most of the world’s top award shows. Society Awards is extended invitations to these from the close relationships we build with our clients while toiling to improve the quality of these trophies, and the total experience our clients and their winners have with the physical manifestations of the honors, regardless of how much this is actually noticed. We like to think that when the product is shinier and better quality everyone notices – but in all things the details matter and we work hard to bring value at every possible touch point. So for one reason or another, because our clients are classy and generous, because our dedication and value outside the scope of work is appreciated, we often go to the shows.
I have to narrow the focus of this article to specifically the very famous televised entertainment related award shows. There are so many dazzling, beautiful, important award shows, some of our closest and most important clients, who honor fields of creative endeavor and whose shows are not on primetime network television. These shows are amazing and fun to attend – in many cases you can have more fun without worrying if the camera is going to scan the audience and catch you on your bad side. There are factors and complications with attending the televised star studded shows that I thought would make an interesting read, and possibly give helpful advice. So, regardless of the importance of the honors being bestowed or the beauty of the sculptures we’ve created, in this article I am focusing on attending a big, televised award show.
This is not written – couldn’t be written – from a celebrity perspective. I’m not one! We can be quite sure that individual experiences will vary! Nevertheless, the factors that I’m focusing on here are more about the practical, logistic, and therefore somewhat universal experiences of these shows. And, it might be relevant for a celebrity attending for the first time – I could only hope.
So where do we start? If you’re going to an award show, it should be fun! For starters, let yourself get excited, get carried about with the hype and the fanfare and the expectation of awesomeness. Go all in, let it sweep over you, and enjoy it. I can tell you from experience that if you go into it thinking that you need to keep stone cold with ice in your veins because who knows what fantastic magical things are going to balloon up while you’re walking to your seat, then you’re going to be at too cool of an emotional level to get maximum enjoyment. Magical things happen, but you have to have the energy level to look out for them. So don’t try to play it cool – enjoy it.
Energy is an important point that I’ll get to next. When I attend an award show, I am a very appreciative guest of my client. Therefore, I am on super exceptional – for me – good behavior, beyond the animal I would otherwise be in any other context. I have learned how to party with finesse, respect, and the kind of abandon that wins you fans all around. I definitely challenge a rock star to keep up with me and my friends when our wives aren’t around – especially over a greater than 48 hour period: with no drugs, and back to work at the same level within a few days – we are the Navy Seals of partying. Nevertheless, in a business context, I’m just not willing to risk it. This perspective can guide your own actions – don’t interfere with the production in any way, be respectful, but have as much fun as you dare, depending on the consequences for you of a minor misstep. Be elegant, think about being invited back, and within those constraints, if you can risk it, push the envelope.
Next subject – after parties. These are completely disconnected from the show itself. There is an official show after party which varies in scale, has refreshments, and is a tasteful denouement to the evening. But this is not the thing you read about in Page Six. Those parties are sponsored by entertainment media, individual celebrities, or others not the award show itself. Going to the show doesn’t have anything to do with going to the after parties – unfortunately. If you’re a celebrity, then you probably don’t have to worry about this part other than knowing where the best one is – and reading my next topic on energy. If you’re not a celebrity, then you need to roll up your sleeves and do your own homework about the after parties and getting on the list. Do this early, as early as possible, and go for the most exclusive venues first. At a nightclub, you can pay to get in. There are parties where you can’t pay – try those first. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll have a big task on your hands – if you’re not a celebrity.
Energy! People don’t realize what a long day a big award show is. In this case, it definitely is harder on the celebrities. They can’t skip hair and makeup; they have schedules, interviews, responsibilities if they are nominated. Award shows are long events at home on the couch with plenty of breaks, snacks, beverages. It’s easier on males, but there may be hair styling appointments and other beautification rituals beforehand. Usually the shows are in LA. And the streets are blocked off for blocks around, and there’s traffic, and you have to leave early to get there before doors close, which is well before the show starts at home. And you want to be there a little early to get situated and get your bearings and get some drinks. If the show starts at 5 and is over at 8, and you actually can leave the venue and get to the next one by 9, then by 9PM when you’re ready to party, you might have 9 hours of award show attending in you already! Starting from when you first started getting ready until the show is over and you’re at the next place. If you didn’t plan your energy level for more, or you’re not prepared to be a solider of partying, or you’re not with a date who is, then you might just want to go to a nice restaurant afterwards or go home. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, and it’s a full day.
If you don’t want to go out like that, then sleep in as long as you can the morning of, don’t have drinks before you’re on your way there, don’t have gone out late the night before, and mentally prepare yourself. If you can possibly skip the time consuming beautification rituals, or condense or simplify them, or schedule them so that you can find a way to do them just before you have to leave – that will help.
If you’re not a celebrity, you can drive and park or take a cab or try to get a limo pass. Get a limo if you can! Do not drive. Unless you have done it before and you really know LA – you will go to the wrong garage or valet, you’ll get lost, agitated – the streets are blocked off, there’s confusion all around – you don’t want that as your starting point!
Timing. The anxiety of showing up at the last minute, versus the benefits of showing up at the last minute. Whether you have a pass to walk the red carpet or not, the celebrities all come towards the end. But it’s very difficult to time your arrival to coincide with that. However, if you can do it, you have the best chance of being on the red carpet at the same time that the stars are. That’s really when you want to be there. Again I have to say – be cool! Don’t bother people. This is their night, have your night, have your own fun. But obviously as far as walking goes, walking into a famous award show is better than other types of walking. On a red carpet is even better. With famous artists makes it the best kind of walking. Enjoy that. If you have the guts to wait till the last minute, or you got lost or didn’t plan and you’re late unintentionally – then you can get that experience.
There are two types of award show, the concert or theater version, and the dinner theater version. At some award shows, the attendee list is very small and everyone sits at banquet tables and is served dinner just before the broadcast starts, and drinks all night. At other shows, it’s like a black tie live concert with seating. Both are cool. If it’s the dinner type, then there’s a bar, there’s fewer people, and there’s more potential to mingle with celebrities or see them while you are both walking around trying to get a drink or sandwich. At the live concert variety, you get to witness an awesome live concert, but the potential for mingling is forestalled by the scale and seating sections. If it’s a dinner show, then that plan I told you about showing up at the last minute means you’ll miss the actual meal. Something to think about. There is usually a bar area with snacks in such a case, where many people will be in the same boat.
I need to underscore again the awesomeness of the performances, planned and unplanned, and the scale and preparation for all such events, regardless of the variety – ever so much more apparent when witnessed in person. In person you can tell that these things are not easy to pull off and deserve the high ratings they get. So much more goes into it than the cropped view you see at home.
Outfit. Again, if you’re a celebrity, and female, then this has different implications and is handled in a different way. You want to feel good and happy – and also look appropriate. Look at images online of the level of formality that most stars wore in the past and use that as your guideline. Don’t have a train if stars don’t wear those kinds of dresses, don’t wear something too short if everyone else is wearing a gown. Look at the tone of the dresses, fun or serious, and be guided by that. Don’t have blinders on, make the right decision. Don’t try to compete with the stars, but also use the event as an excuse to get something awesome. If you’re a male, then update your evening wear if it’s not current – you’ll be pleased that you did. If you aren’t sure if the event calls for a proper tuxedo, then wear a dinner jacket or an evening suit that would barely pass even if a tuxedo was in fact required. For men it’s better to be slightly over dressed if there’s doubt. For women, I would try to get the tone just right.
Up close, performers are excellent specimens of humanity in many ways, and they are also every one of them human beings. You can see both aspects, larger than life, and yet still a regular person in the way that everyone must be – themselves entertained, joyful, in suspense, hungry, excited, tired, happy, ready to go home, ready to go out. The whole range.
I’m sure that I skipped and forgot important points and aspects. With this information though, I think you could plan to have a fantastic award show experience that goes the way you want it to. I’ll briefly here recount some great experiences that I’ve had. At the Golden Globes, the best part is, since the guest list is so small and exclusive, everyone goes in on the red carpet, and there’s Champagne waiting for you before you even get to the end of it. The first time I attended that show, I also had given the trophies a redesign facelift, and I had the honor to give I believe one red carpet interview and some pre-show talks. Another time, I was seated with some of the Hilton family and told them alternatively that I was an international party crasher, or that I worked for the CIA and had to off someone in the bathroom, and got up. My wife spilled the beans that we made the trophies. Inside the Globes is a wonderful experience, so many amazing people in a small space, very private and comfortable. You see everyone interacting in a very normal down to earth manner. Many years ago, I attended the Critics Choice Awards. It’s also a dinner show, and everyone entered by a long straight red carpet fully packed with photographers and a step-and-repeat almost the whole way. They know who is somebody and who is not – they know it well. I had a friend who worked at Wire Image and therefore a single photographer, out of the whole packed line, called out my name to have my picture taken. Still better than none! At the MTV Movie Awards where Sasha Cohen descended upside down onto Eminem, I was just a few rows away and for some reason, the whole room seemed to be watching it on the big screens that are placed around the theater. I was later told that out of the whole theater, Farnsworth Bentley and I were standing up to actually watch in real life, rather than looking at the screens. I was also at the MTV VMA show in Brooklyn, New York, where Miley Cyrus did her infamous twerking routine. I have to say first that the full antics were even more provocative and shocking than what was shown on TV, but more importantly that in person it is apparent that she has a fantastic voice, is an excellent performer, and is a quality dancer. My wife confirms this, in case I’m not an authority on these things. At the American Music Awards, I got lost and confused trying to drive myself and park, had to basically run to the front before doors were closing, and with my New York attitude (my friend called it “Emerging Markets” mentality) basically burst onto the red carpet when I’m not sure I was credentialed for it, along with a great group of A List musicians. Years later, at the Grammys the same thing happened because I took my time leaving the hotel and I was calm about it the whole time, but the result was the same.
Thanks to our clients who made these insights and experiences possible. Hopefully this improves your viewing or experiencing of the shows as well.