Friday, March 05, 2010

Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Brett Favre, and Ray Lewis in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, CA - The 82nd Annual Academy Awards, like the other Oscars before it, really sends this already moneyed place into a another gear. If you like people, glamour, beauty, good food, fine cars, entrepreneurs, movies, and the Oscars, Hollywood and Beverly Hills is for you. This is a place that - forgive this blogger's first time eyes - seems to not know it's an economic downturn.

Or more accurately, it doesn't want to get the bad news. It's a place where Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre, and Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis were spotted Thursday night (not by me but according to a source) at my new favorite place for steak: Maestro's Steakhouse. (And for anyone wondering, they don't sponsor this space, yet.)

What Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Brett Favre, and Ray Lewis were doing here in Beverly Hills during Oscar weekend was not known, but my source says that Ray Lewis has a house in the area. One guess is that celebrities get invited to the big parties that other celebs throw, so they go to them. That party was at an incredible eatery.

Wow, what an incredible rib-eye steak I had at Maestro's Steakhouse after having drinks, some with alcohol and some not, with my friend Paul Pollack and his wife. Paul was a regular at The Balboa Cafe in San Francisco where he met the woman who became his lovely wife over a decade ago. Now they have a little one and live outside California.

After they left for their next appointment, I enjoyed the best steak I've ever had in my life, and only the 22-ounce Alley Steak (off the menu at The Alley in Oakland) can match it, but not top it. That plus a bed of mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, and a great glass of merlot and that was it.

Coming here to work media for the Oscars is an experience best shared with someone. There's just too much to literally look at, from the newest Rolls Royce motorcars, to women with a lift here, a tuck there, and a tan - real and manufactured. There's a good and healthy number of people of color here and everyone mixes very well.

What's so funny is that people seem to look at each other as of they're on the constant watch for a celebrity, and the place is crawling with photogs. That's the funniest part of being here. But people do engage with each other - they talk.

Hollywood and Beverly Hills has a pulse and it's not because of the Oscars, but it gave birth to The Oscars. I'm not one to want to live here as the urban design is not something I can embrace, but this part of LA, for anyone who's a pop culture junky like this blogger, is intoxicating.

Stay tuned.

Oscar Buzz: Students compete to be The Red Carpet Interviewer at The Oscars

If you're a regular follower of this blog, you remember the three college student groups who were selected as finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMAPAS) and MTV-U competition to be an interviewers on the Red Carpet on Oscar Sunday for the Academy Awards.

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting and video-interviewing the three groups of six students as they happened to be on the Red Carpet with AMPAS officials. They are every bit as nice and charming in person as they come across on their videos and in my video.

Original videos here: MTV-U contest.

To recap, Rachel Berry (anchor) and Christian Hartnett (videographer) represent Chapman University in Orange, CA; Terry Stackhouse (anchor) and Zach Cusson (videographer) are from Emerson College, in Boston; Brandon McCaskill (anchor) and Kiarra Hart (videographer) are from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. The front runners in the competition are the Chapman U students who got 52 percent of the online vote at the time of my first blog post. But that written, there was only about two percent separating the three teams.

As you can see in the video, they're all very fun and good natured people who know that they represent AMPAS as much as they represent their colleges. I asked all of them what they would say to Tom Cruise and got some interesting responses as the video shows.

I like all of the students both professionally and personally, but if I had to pick one anchor, Rachel Berry just has that "Mary Hart" star quality, and even Brandon McCaskill liked her work and came to her defense to express his opinion when I teased her about coming up with a corny video (the the first blog post). Rachel Berry was well put together in what looked to be a black Donna Karan dress (I'll double check that one.) All of the videographers were quite talented and their styles were so different it's hard to pick a "best one".

The final announcement of the winner will be tomorrow morning at 10 AM on The Red Carpet at Kodak Theater. I'll be there to talk to everyone and will post more videos.

Meanwhile, good luck to all of the folks! See you Saturday!

And follow my Twitter tweets from LA at

Oscar Friday: on The Academy Awards, social nets, Twitter and ratings

Also: the Oscars, Oscar awards, Twitter oscar awards, academy awards twitter

If The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had a New Media Division, one initiative should be something called "Oscar Friday". It's like Follow Friday on Twitter, where in that case it's a day, today, that Twitter users are encouraged to follow other Twitter users.

On Oscar Friday, Twitter users flying the hashtag #OscarFriday or #OF are encouraged to follow others who have the use that same hashtag or are recommending following other Twitter users under the #OscarFriday hastag. The idea is to have a kind of ring of connected Oscar followers that could better propagate an Oscar-related tweet.

Moreover, AMPAS could use its Twitter account to ignite the effort. That would mean stars like, if they were so encouraged to do so, Ashton Kutcher or @aplusk, and Iron Man 2 Director Jon Favreau or @Jon_Favreau, both active on Twitter and with many followers, could push an Oscar-related tweet. Maybe AMPAS could get Miley Cyrus back on Twitter? She's a presenter this year.

The current problem is AMPAS doesn't have a Twitter account, still, as of this writing. The reasons for this are not officially known here, but one can guess. AMPAS is stuck, hopefully not forever, in an old media mindset. While social networks and blogs are helping to spread the TV-generated Oscar talk, what's missing is Twitter, which can start media buzz without the aide of television, yet cause people to watch television. Why AMPAS doesn't get that is beyond comprehension.

For anyone who requires an example of how Twitter drove people to television, and indeed to demand TV coverage of a something, it's the Iran Protests. Now, for those who read this and have to launch a cynical "You're comparing the Oscars to the Iran Protests" comment, go ahead, but from the perspective of media relationships and message activation there is a clear equation: if something happens or is made to happen in the World, and a set of Twitter followers deems it important and they are large enough, those Twitter users can influence a change in what television does.

That's what happened in the case of the Iran Protest. CNN was panned so badly for its awfully small coverage of the Iran Protests that a new hashtag called #CNNFail was created and propagated. It was both a curse and a complement: Twitter users knew CNN had the resources to cover the Iran Protests and demanded they do it. Eventually CNN fell in line.

The point here is such a relationship can be manufactured to increase TV ratings. I've tried to explain this, in various ways to AMPAS, and I know it's on their radar, but nothing has been done. The fear in this corner is TV ratings would certainly improve under the Twitter system I suggest. Of course, having an active blog to feed to Twitter's part of the deal.

But of course, who cares? Well, millions do. Oscar's a celebration of the great things that people do in film. In fact I frankly get annoyed at those who tell me "I don't follow the Oscars or I didn't see a film.." That's not the point. If those people knew someone who was in line to get an Oscar, they'd change their view in a heart-beat.

As one who's been surrounded by death and funerals over the last three years, it's vitally important and morally right to celebrate people while they're alive. That's really what all these award shows are about, especially Oscar. That's why it's important to make sure people know about what's happening with Oscar and that's where Twitter and New Media comes in.

My prediction is Oscar's ratings will be much better than in 2009, but not quite up to record levels. It's the record levels that are key. Not using social networks effectively is the problem. It's one AMPAS must correct and sooner rather than later.

Now, my bags are almost packed (or at least enough for me to blast a blog post), and I'm getting ready to fly to LA and to Beverly Hills and Hollywood and Highland for the Oscars. Never been there before. I'm looking forward to checking out the Oscar MTV-U event Saturday morning, where college journalists will learn who's won the right to report from the Red Carpet. That will be something to see the faces of the winners. Then there's a number of TBDs for me, and finally Red Carpet Sunday morning and the Night of 100 Stars Party for The Oscars.

Stay tuned for my predictions, Tweets, and videos starting later today.

Chad Ochocinco Johnson runs naked in public

Chad Ochocinco Johnson, who had his name legally changed to "Chad Ochocinco", is the Cincinnati Bengals diva wide receiver number 85 who has a reputation for being outgoing and outlandish. Everything from Chad's tweets to his wild truck is over the top, but this time the NFL football star has out done himself. Chad's his own NFL Free Agent.

Chad Ochocinco Johnson runs naked in public in a park.

As pointed out in the video, drivers were honking their horns at him, which means they could see him in full view and he wasn't far from a roadway.

The question is why did he do it? Chad's an amazingly intelligent person and certainly a great athlete. But why this? Over at Twitter, Chad Ochocinco appologized to Nicole Richie:

@nikrichie i apologize for running through the woods naked, i did not expect people to be up at 6 am.
about 2 hours ago via web

Before that, Chad Ochocinco tweeted that someone took his clothes:

@BIGBDABULLY somebody robbed me for my clothes thats why i was runnin naked in the woods
about 7 hours ago via web in reply to BIGBDABULLY

Of course, it's all just plain good publicity for his first appearance on Dancing with The Stars this year. On Twitter, Chad encourages his followers to follow his dancing partner, Cheryl Burke:

Everybody please follow my awesome dance partner the wonderful @cherylburke1,
about 8 hours ago via Swift