Awards Season Kickoff in Palm Springs
I kicked off 2016 with a bang! Or rather, the Awards Calendar forced me to kick off 2016 by immediately getting back to work with the Palm Springs International Film Festival!
I returned from my Christmas vacation in Dallas on December 30th, went back to the office on the 31st, transferred my clean clothes from my suitcase to my duffle bag, grabbed some sparkly jewelry, and set out for Palm Springs on the first day of the New Year!
This was my first year working the festival, which is hosted by Entertainment Tonight, and my first time working as a producer with the legendary Mary Hart. As a longtime ET viewer and fan (and likely echoed by anyone in the entertainment news industry or with a TV), the opportunity to work with Mary was a HUGE deal! I had met Mary once before on a set visit to the show Baby Daddy, on which she has a recurring guest starring role, but had never worked with her one on one.
My job was to meet Mary as she came off stage, let her know which celebrity winner or presenter would be coming to our backstage position next and prep her on any questions written and the context of the speeches being given on stage. And it was totally intimidating!
Would you want to be the one to give Mary Hart the wrong information about someone's upcoming film or current relationship or nominee status for one of the 1000 awards coming in the next few weeks?! Mary is incredibly well-prepared and a genius at what she does, so you can imagine the stress of not wanting to tarnish that reputation with a slip of the tongue.
Luckily, Mary doesn't make you feel that pressure and I was able to relax enough to witness one of the greatest interviewers of all time work. And work she does! In addition to hosting the event (and probably walking a couple miles throughout the night in high heels and a gown), Mary conducted some of the most personable and personalized interviews I've witnessed. She has the remarkable ability to make effortless conversation with everyone and still know how to make the perfect segue into questions provided to her, but also talk about what she has observed or is interested in. (By the way, still don't know how she had time to observe anything when she had so much going on at once!)
Let's not forget either that the stars absolutely LOVE her! And they all want to come talk to her! They wave as they walk by, chat before they get off-stage, and most importantly, do an interview when they otherwise wouldn't. Everyone knows Mary Hart and she's, in some ways, the star of the interview but somehow manages not to make herself the centerpiece of the conversation.
I personally had two absolute moments of bliss during the night.
The first moment was when I spent half an interview with Bryan Cranston holding my hand. I had already crowned Bryan my Favorite Interview of 2015 for the premiere and press junket interviews for Trumbo and I was excited to see him recognized for his work in Palm Springs. I didn't realize he'd make a case for a repeat award so early in 2016! To explain the PDA, Palm Springs is really cold in the winter (it's the desert) so the production had heaters on the carpet to make sure we didn't freeze, but there's only so much you can do when you're wearing a sleeveless cocktail dress! So when Bryan came up to my platform to shake my hand hello, he noticed my hands were freezing and decided to keep me warm by holding on. The interview goes as follows:
BRYAN CRANSTON INTERVIEW
BC: BRYAN CRANSTON
BC: Your hands are cold.
I: But my heart is warm.
BC: My hands are cold too. Two warm hearts, we need a jacket, is what we need.
I: Well I bet your heart is really warm. These fans have been standing out here for thirty six hours. Did you know that?
BC: Are they, I didn't know that.
I: Well it really made their day. I saw that you signed a Breaking Bad apron.
BC: Keep warm. Staying close.
I: Well just cuddle together.
BC: Stay close. Okay. It's nice you know I mean it's nice to be able to go out and talk to the fans and there are fans from Breaking Bad or the movie, Drive and now Trumbo and it's like it's nice to see that that they're following along and it's just feels great so why not go say hello to them.
I: Well I'm glad you brought up the movie Drive because that's my particular favorite -
BC: Is it?
I: Of your performances. Absolutely.
BC: Oh thank you.
I: What does it mean to be recognized for this particular role and then also the Golden Globes next week?
BC: I know. It's so, it's so rewarding for me because this is a civil rights issue and back in our country in the forties and fifties there were ten men who went to prison not because they committed a crime but because of their political ideology and our country is bigger than that. Our country can not only tolerate but embrace differences of opinion and um and were strong that way so I'm not affected. If you and I had a disagreement and a different point of view, I would be curious to see how you got to that point of view but I'm not threatened by it and I don't dislike you because of it and I think, I think we need more civility in our society, definitely in politics.
I: Well since tonight of course is the official kickoff of the award season, next week the Golden Globes. What is this next week like for you?
BC: This whole week is crazy. We have this, the you know Palm Springs International Film Festival, followed by the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice, the SAG/AFTRA awards, I mean it's like every weekend is something. Its, it's fun but it is tiring in a way. I'm not as young. I'm only thirty five. I look much older because of all the things but -
I: And really you're just turning thirty five even though -
BC: That's right.
I: I know you have a birthday coming up. A little birthday, what is one thing you want for your birthday besides the Oscar?
BC: Oh no, no. Um, I'm gonna turn sixty next year and that alone is a little daunting. You know you think thirty, "Ah I'm fine, I got plans. Forty, great, good, feel good. Fifty, okay bring it on. Sixty you go, alright I've gone past the tipping point. Now there's no turning back and I am on the older side so." But it's fun. I, whatever, I'm getting my birthday wish you know having this movie, Trumbo, come out and the importance of it and it's also very entertaining. I'm very happy.
I: And your incredible costar, Helen Mirren will be presenting to you tonight.
BC: I know.
I: What do you hope she says? Did you actually write your own speech for her?
BC: Oh no, no, no I have no idea what she's going to say and I'm just thrilled that she's here for me because this is the second time I've worked with her and she's a lovely, lovely person and she's Dame Helen Mirren. I mean come on.
You can see why everyone loves him right?!
My second blissful moment of the night came just before heading back to my hotel room. Once we wrapped the shoot and the crew began to pack up, I thanked Mary for working with her and told her what a pleasure it was to watch her. To my relief, she thanked ME as well and told me that she felt very well taken care of and complimented my skills of summarizing all of the information she needed to know! Whew! One down, two months to go!