My feet are mangled and numb from standing in 4-inch heels for hours, and the bags under my eyes seem to be holding extra cargo after not sleeping more than 5 hours a night for weeks. Small prices to pay for living a dream.
Last night I covered the Oscars and it was glorious.
My colleagues had warned me that awards season– as it’s known in the entertainment biz– is a killer. It snuck up on me right after the lull of the holidays. All at once, there was the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, People’s Choice, and Independent Spirit Awards… leading up to the mother of all shows: the Oscars.
This was my first year in the job, and the AP does things very differently than my past workplaces, so everything from set up to staffing to production was new. I spent hours on conference calls, making complicated schedules and coverage plans, and negotiating restrictions. I worked too many late nights, and woke up often before dawn in a panic that I’d forgotten to book a fiber line connection or apply for enough credentials.
It was a stressful, exhausting few months learning the ropes and planning for awards shows I’d never attended. But I knew that the beacon at the end of the long journey was that I’d be on the Academy Awards red carpet.
I dutifully saw most of the movies nominated. I picked a dress, made an appointment at Dry Bar that Sunday morning and headed for Hollywood.
Let me just tell you people– it was a career highlight for sure and one of the most memorable nights of my life.
Seeing so many huge stars all in one place, all glammed up and mingling was the insider view I’d always dreamed about. After years of blogging about red carpets by religiously watching E!, I was living it!
The best way to share my experience is to show you the many photos I took throughout the weekend so you can get a little glimpse.
Testing out the carpet– behind me are empty fan bleachers
I went to pick up my credentials and see our spot on the carpet — prime real estate right near the entrance where they take the fashion shots– between Ryan Seacrest and the E! crew and the ABC live show.
The carpet was under plastic wrap to keep it clean before the big day. The whole carpet is tented and looks like a giant set with lights and press risers on one side and fan bleachers on the other.
There are VERY strict rules against photographing credentials so you won’t see that.
When we arrived on the carpet everyone lined up to take the obligatory photo with Oscar. How can you not?
Here was the amazing AP Entertainment crew getting ready for the big rush of celebs. We had two producers asking questions and two cameramen for interviews and broll.
Producer Nicole did research for days to develop smart, varied and personal questions for each star. She had color coded cards with subject tabs to refer to when she knew a nominee was coming up. We try to get unique, thoughtful answers by asking the right questions.
At first, just a few stars came in through a grand entrance flanked by red velvet curtains. They pose in front of the fashion cameras and then either walk down the press line, or duck behind the crowds and enter discreetly.
There are always stars who just won’t walk the carpet– Meryl Streep is one. Other nominees like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling snuck in without doing the press line. But we had plenty other nominees and presenters to interview.
Ryan Seacrest showed up just minutes before the big stars came and had several producers and groomers surrounding him. It was common to see stars lining up to talk to him. See the cards a producer is holding to the right? That’s how he gets info for his interviews.
One of my takeaways was how beautiful many of these actors are in person. Best Actress nominee Ruth Negga was gorgeous and lovely.
Negga would be on my best dressed list, along with Halle Berry, Haley Steinfeld, Jessica Biel and Taraji P Henson.
Janelle Monae who was there as a presenter to support both “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures” had flawless skinn and makeup… and that dress. Many of the embellished dresses that I normally would not like on TV, look so much better in person when you see the textures and detail and how they wear the dress.
Check out Les Moonves and Julie Chen to the left
Scarlett Johanssen was another one who was luminous in person and a smart interview.
We spoke to some of my favorites like Dev Patel from “Lion”….
…and his co-star Sunny who doesn’t speak much English but man is he cute in a tux!
I was excited to be near Best Song nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda, who brought his proud mom.
Andrew Garfield who is charming, and not just because of his British accent.
I love director Ava Duvernay. She is so talented and speaks so beautifully and passionately about film and the need for more people of color and more females telling stories.
Nicole Kidman did not stop to talk but I watched her walk past us and her skin is like allibaster. Loved her look. She and Keith Urban seemed very connected.
And for more adorable couples…..um hello JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and Jessica Biel!
They don’t do many interviews so we were psyched they stopped for us. Justin was everything you’d want him to be: easy, funny, smart and playful. When they were waiting to talk to Ryan, I watched them on the carpet and they were flirty and laughing.
I interviewed my favorite celebrity couple Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow and they did not disappoint. My impression before we met was funny, smart and unaffected… and they were!
We went into our production trailer to watch the show and eat dinner. I thought Kimmel was fantastic. I laughed out loud many times. The show was long but didn’t feel it to me …and who could believe that surprise ending!
With AP producer and Oscars expert Mike Cidoni
I was part of the Governor’s Ball red carpet press which was only a handful of crews, including Natalie Morales (whom I love) from Access Hollywood.
The carpet is right at the entrance to the giant ballroom where Wolfgang Puck creates culinary delights and fancy champagne flows. It’s a gorgeous party with a live band, a dance floor and more roses than Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
We interviewed Barry Jenkins and the boys who play the lead character in “Moonlight” about their big surprising win.
Jenkins was gracious and thoughtful and I wanted to give him a hug. (I didn’t.)
We also congratulated Viola on her win. She never disappoints with a sound bite. And what a speech.
And then– after a 13 hour marathon day fueled by adrenalin and nerves– it was over.
Awards season is full of work and stress but completely worth it. Remind me of that come December 2017!
Shout out to my LA girls who put me up and kept me sane.