Friday, February 25, 2011

Academy Awards: The Red Carpet - Covered By Rain Again

rain-redcarpet, originally uploaded by zennie62.

As I write this, I'm at The Grill Restaurant at Highland and Hollywood, waiting for my blogging colleagues Marla Schulman, Milena Merrill, and Jen Friel and listening to two people obviously well-connected with the Oscar production talk about how there are a lot of new people working on it, and it's "not as much fun" as before. Sad.

I don't know what's going on that produced such an environment, but I could not help but think of how it must be hell to dream of working at The Academy Awards, only to get bogged down by the sameness of it once you keep doing it for several years.

And then I thought about the rain.

If you read this space a lot, you may (or may not) remember my falling and hitting my head outside the Red Carpet last year. If not, here's the video:

This year, believe it or not, it's much wetter outside - sheets of rain were coming down, although it looks like it's stopped now. But from what the folks are telling me, there's supposed to be storms through Sunday.

I hope not. I hate the rain, but I gotta deal with it.

And tomorrow will be that day, and bring the MTV-U Press Conference to announce the winner of the 2011 Oscar Competition. What's fun is not just to see how the students react to all this "Oscar stuff" but to determine what they're going to do on Oscar Sunday, when their talents are put to the test.

Beyond that, there are a lot of parties going on around town, mostly at private residents and a number very hush-hush. That's another way of saying if I get into one, you may not know it.

Oscars Less Dramatic

This time the Oscars are a lot less dramatic than 2010. The 10 Best Pictures are into their second year. There's no rogue producer using email to diss his Academy competitors for Best Picture. And it really seem the possibility for an upset is almost non-existent.

Still, as a friend said, anything could happen.

Like. Maybe. The rain going away?

Back note: be sure to check out the additional blog work on The Oscars with a click here to visit

Stay tuned.

2011 Academy Awards: Meet Ama Jo Budge and Suniil Sadarangani

Ama Jo Budge covering the 13th Costume Designers Guild awards
Ama is a creative fiction and non-fiction writer from the UK currently based in Los Angeles. She has studied the arts for her entire life, specializing in alternative performance art and the study film.  Finding London decidedly too cold, Ama has come to bask in the sun and glory of our city of Angels and will be assisting Milena with her reports on the 2011 Academy Awards this year. She will be on-site twittering you instant updates from the 2011 Costume Designers Guild Awards tonight.

Suniil Sadarangani is covering Best of Laugh-in at the Paley Center tonight
Suniil Sadarangani started his career in production with Sunil Lull,  former CEO at MTV Networks, India. Since then he has become one of India's respected producers for his work in coordinating production between South Asia and the West having over 7 years experience as a Line Producer/Producer.  He joins Milena in covering tonight's presentation of The Best of Laugh-In at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills.  Suniil is an actor, producer and filmmaker.

Both Ama and Suniil will be based at the Roosevelt Hotel throughout the week, blogging, vlogging, snapping photos and lending eyes and ears to this blog's coverage.

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Watch Part 2: 13th Costume Designers Guild Awards

Too bad none of these dresses are a double digit -- like a 10 -- otherwise I'd really be foaming at the mouth.  For me, it is LBD on Sunday.  Join Angelina Jolie and a ballroom full of stars for the 13th Costume Designers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel  on February 22, 2011.

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ABC gets to hang on to Oscarcast until 2020

The stunning Dame Helen Mirren

Oh happy day for ABC

For a ballpark payout of $50 million per year, the network will hang onto its annual OscarcastDaily Variety reports, through 2020, with the latest licensing agreement to have expired in 2014.

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Watch 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards

For a peek into Hollywood's hottest closests, check out the amazing couiture on the backs of the likes of Diane Lane, Claire Danes, Ginnefer Goodwin, Kathy Griffin, Kellan Lutz, Issiah Mustafa and Kristin Davis at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards video transcript held February 22, 2011 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, covered by one of this blog's writers, London-based Ama Jo Buldge.

Video is courtesy of the Lippen Group.

A quick rundown of 2011 Costume Designers Guild Award winners looks like this:

EXCELLENCE IN PERIOD FILM The King’s Speech – Jenny Beavan
EXCELLENCE IN FANTASY FILM Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood
EXCELLENCE IN COMMERCIAL COSTUME DESIGN Chanel – Bleu de Chanel – Aude Bronson‐Howard

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Hollywood Boulevard: Ama Jo Budge on-the-street pre-Oscars 2011

I took to the streets this afternoon to inhale the pre-2011 Academy Awards Hollywood buzz. The road in front of Hollywood Boulevard is already blocked off with scaffolding, patrolled by security guards, and watched over by the towering canvas Oscars Award itself. The cramped corridors between the blockade and the shop walls becomes crammed with tourists, film-buffs, and locals alike, the usual touristy excitement heightened as people tramp up and down the (plastic covered) red carpet

I meet and talk to not only locals and Easterners but also some girls from Switzerland, a couple from Sweden and Norway, and a Dutch woman (the Scandinavians out in numbers)! I ask them whether they will be here on Sunday night or at home watching the Oscars, most say yes (apart from the occasional oblivious local). The general opinion is that best film will be a toss up between Black Swan and The Kings Speech (which took the British Academy Film Award for best film in the UK earlier this month) with which I agree, although there were a few batters on The Fighter’s team too.

A knowledgeable local showing around his New York friend gets into great detail, saying that The Kings Speech will undoubtedly take Best Film, although True Grit will be ‘the dark horse’. He predicts Colin Firth for best actorChristian Bale for best supporting actor, and to my surprise names a pregnant Natalie Portman as the stunner he will be looking out for – “her talent makes her even more attractive” I am blown away, I must admit (they don’t think like that where I come from – and we’re supposed to be the gentlemen!) 

(Hollywood Blvd last week, and now...)

Some of the younger generation remind me (somewhat to my embarrassment) that Justin Timberlake does of course appear in The Social Network and will therefore be the hottie they are looking out for, with James Franco (127 Hoursbrining up a slightly more mature fan base.

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie still take the cake for hottest celebs however, what a shame The Tourist was such a let down, I guess there is such a thing as too much gorgeousness on one set...

I meet some photographers from Portland, Oregon who will be working the red carpet on Sunday. They are all together unimpressed with the celebrity-hunger that surrounds them, refusing to pronounce any star-struckness other than a ones grudging confession that Sigourney Weaver said ‘hi’ to him last year “which was pretty cool”.

(Yes these were totally for my 8 yr old brother - if you can't beat em join em!)

I am undaunted, and soon meet a group of three (what I would call ‘lads’) from San Francisco who amusingly bicker over whether Scarlet Johansson, Angelina Jolie, or Natalie Portman deserve their most attractive vote. The discussion comes to the satisfying conclusion when one loudly concludes that regardless he would "definitely go gay for George Clooney…" To which I could think of no reply other than maybe (who wouldn't?)

Back to the professional stuff, they tipped Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) for best supporting actress and gave the first (and only) vote for The Kids Are Alright stating that Hollywood was sure to give the ‘lesbian nod’. I did not get into the discussion that I have had with many others about whether or not this film actually discusses or appropriately deals with Annette Benning and Julianne Moore’s characters sexuality at all, let alone the fact that Hollywood is not known for giving 'nods' of any kind to my knowledge.

There seems to be an overall feeling that Natalie Portman (Black Swan) deserves Best Actress despite previous loyalties for the consistent talent of (Rabbit Hole) Nicole Kidman (I will certainly always hold Annette Benning in a special place of high reverence in my heart) but Portman's got my money too…


I get stopped by a young woman reporting for a Boston TV show and do not hesitate to stop and have a bit of a chat about the Oscars on camera, and give a shout out for the blog of course.

My favourite comment of the afternoon/evening may be a Swedish young woman claiming, when asked who she would be most excited to see in Hollywood this week – “I want to see John Travolta!”

The tension is certainly building in Hollywood, stay-tuned folks, I have a feeling we could all be surprised, come Sunday night…

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent

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2011 Academy Awards: Searchable Datebase

For all of you Academy Award trivia freaks, here's a handy searchable database provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Want to know who won Lead Actor the year you were born, check it out.

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2011 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure: Oscar 2011 Sunday @ 9AM

Expect surprise celebrities at the 2011 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure Oscar Sunday morning -- a cause I have participated in over the past 10 years since my cousin, a classical musician, Stanford University educator -- Dr. Adrienne Maravich Meckel was diagnosed with cancer over a decade ago and survived to see her children graduate from college -- and was a year short of seeing her first grandchild born. 

Adrienne survived nearly a decade beyond her prognosis thanks to advanced cancer treament and awareness and to the Susan G. Koman organization and many otherslike it, I am thankful for their continuing work in combatting this inciduous disease.

I urge each and every one of you to donate generously to the cause and to come out Sunday, February 27, 2011 to Dodger Stadium, located at 1000 Elysian Park Avenue in Los Angeles to cheer on celebrities Brenda SongAimee GarciaNia Long and others in support of this great cause.

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2011 Academy Awards tidbits: Depp & Bale 2011 hotties, big no to media recording devices after Feb. 23

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the 2011 Oscars

Our woman on-the-street, Ama Jo Budge, at Hollywood & Highland claims that her personal survey reconfirms Johnny Depp as the hottest actor alive with Christian Bale following in second place of women aged 15 to 60 surveyed during this 2011 Oscar week.

Media warning -- wireless devices are verbotten after February 23, 2011.


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Academy Awards 2011: 3D mega performance may impact Oscar pics

Rumblings that 3D -- the new box office panacea -- may have judges inclined to vote for a genre that will keep money flowing in Hollywood could have an impact on the 2011 Academy Awards results.

Today, the Motion Picture Association of America reported that global box office reached $31.8 billion, a global box office record with an 8% increase in 2010 over last year, Daily Variety reports, with a drop 5% drop in actual domestic attendance.

So how does this affect the 2011 Oscars?

Dunno yet, but, I've got a cool $100 on Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland taking home some bacon.

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Academy Awards 2011: Live coverage of the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel

Reported by Special Correspondent, Ama J. Budge

Ama Jo Budge with Better Midler
I arrive outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel in my taxi about  feeling very glamorous indeed and stroll into the hotel, nodding at the security guard as if I was born there. Once inside I become much shyer, finally finding the woman I’m supposed to speak to and getting my press badge. The entire lobby oozes with the distinct aromas of fame, excitement, and extremely expensive taste.

Follow us on Twitter!/2011Oscars

Finding my place in the red carpet line, I talk to other press members, peruse the ‘tip-list’ (as it sounds literally a list of the big names and faces attending) and await the arrival of the celebrities. Trickle turns to flood and suddenly the room is a-flash with shouting photographers all vying for the attention of the biggest stars. Sex and the City star Kristin Davis is hosting the evening, and appears in a floating black and white polka-dot gown.

In the flesh, and throughout the evening, she is every bit the trotting, beaming, adorable beauty of ‘Charlotte’ the character we have come to know and love her for. In her interviews she talks about the importance of costume for acting as well as for people, down to the importance in every shoe, and the value of the modern woman’s flats in which she feels comfortable and strong.

Praising the work of the designers:

“Tiny details all come together on screen to create what everyone takes for granted…its very intertwined and complicated and amazing, what they do.”

And of Halle Berry:
Halle is a genius in so many ways and such a generous person, she’s a sweetheart.”

These sentiments were echoed later not only by the president of the Costume Designers Guild, Mary Rose (see below) but also by Samuel L Jackson as he presents Berry with the Lacoste Spotlight Award. This award singles out an actor who has proved consistently committed to achieving excellence in their role and shown a particular awareness to the integral operation of costume design within that role.

A personal favourute of mine, Lisa Edelsein (who plays the character of Cuddy - Dr. House’s love interest and Dean of Medicine in the hit US show House) appears on the red carpet looking stunning in Viviane Westwood and I positively leap on the poor woman for a photograph, who is extremely gracious and agrees.

She will be presenting the Outstanding Contemporary Television Series Award along with Melora Hardin (The Office).

All-American hunk James Bamber arrives lurking on the side lines, somewhat shy out of his Battlestar Galactica uniform. 

I meet Bette Midler in the cocktail lounge, a childhood icon of mine and manage to get a photo with her to both mine (and my mother's) delight. 

The red carpet is rounded off with Halle Berry’s extraordinary
entrance in her Elie Saab Haute Couture gown. 

I step into the cavernous room which is bedecked in classy green and black, alight with the chinking of cocktail glasses, sparkling eyes and glittering chandeliers.

Lou Eyrich begins the evening, taking the
Award for Best Contemporary Television Series

Outstanding Period/Fantasy Television Series goes to
John Dunn and Lisa Padovanni for Empire Boardwalk 

Michael Dennison who passed away last September at the premature age of 58 was mourned and respected tonight as he joined the Guild’s Hall of Fame. Known for work such as ‘Almost Famous’, ‘What Women Want’, ‘Basic Instinct’, and Eat Pray Love’, Dennison, or as his colleagues call him ‘Dixie’ showed extraordinary diversity within his work, from the comic-book like caricatures of The Spirit to the raw, true story: World Trade Centre’.

Julia Roberts, his long time friend, colleague and neighbour held a personal memorial for him in her home last year, and he received a standing ovation in the hall tonight.

The Big Love cast present the Award for Outstanding television movie or miniseries

Mary Rose, President of the Costume Designers Guild pulls off a funeral-worthy netted black hat, though she is barely seen behind the podium. She thanks Lacoste as the Guild’s Presenting Sponsor and Halle Berry who received the Lacoste Spotlight Award this evening. 
Bill Marr begins a heartfelt and fairly hilarious speech in honour of Joel Schumacher, costume designer, writer and director, having worked on pieces such as ‘Carwash’  with Woody Allen, ‘Batman Forever’, ‘Phone Booth’ and the adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.


The gorgeous Isaiah Mustafa presents the award for Excellence in Commercial Design, which goes to Aude Bronson-Howard.

British costume designer Jenny Beavan wins the Excellence in Period Film Award for the kings speech which has received political acclaim both here and in the UK, winning six Awards, including Best Film, out of thirteen nominations.
Hollywood’s Star-studded couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore take the podium to present Julie Weiss with the Disaronno Career Achievement in Film and Television Award.

Weiss’s impressive repertoire includes ‘American Beauty’, ‘Frida’, ‘Secretariat’, ‘The Ring’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, and most recently No Strings Attatched’. She is spoken of with love and respect by several directors and actors:
“This eccentric, amazing little woman…(who) finds the music in the wardrobe…”


Which is awarded to Amy Westcott for Black Swan, who is brought nearly to tears when thanking her husband, son and team:

“Any costume designer isn’t worth anything without a fantastic team.”

I get a little star-struck myself as Samuel L Jackson takes the stage in a dashing tux to Pulp Fiction’s timeless Pumpkin and Honey Bunny/Misirlou soundtrack.

He honours Halle Berry with familiarity, admiration and respect, reading the praise of some   designers who’ve worked with her, before presenting her with the Lacoste Spotlight Award.

After showing the tribute video of her career, Jackson finishes with (what I think was on everyone’s mind, male and female alike…) 

 “Nothing beats leather"

After snapping a shot in the ladies with another personal icon of mine - Holland Taylor, I make my way to the cues outside the Beverly Hilton and the valet hails me a cab.

I have much enjoyed reporting for you this evening, stay tuned for the
rest of Oscars week, and thanks for reading!