... Otherwise known as "My Night at the 2008 Oscars"
So, for as much as you all mock kickball, every once in a while it has its perks. Last Sunday night was one of those times, because yes... little ol me went to the Oscars.
A little background - My friend Kevin (captain of an opposing team) works for the Academy of Motion Pictures. His primary project for the last 3 months has been to staff the Oscars. There are far more posts than there are people, so he recruited some of his more responsible (ha!) friends to be ticket takers, and basically that's where I came in. Me and about 10 other friends were recruited to take entry tickets to the Governor's Ball, which is on the premises and directly follows the show. Anyone at the show who attended the ball would go through the 11 of us. As you can imagine, that included some pretty big names. Here's the play by play.
6pm - Arrival at the Kodak theater. The show has just begun. Pretty much all of Hollywood Blvd is blocked off, but I have special credentials and, while my car is checked twice by bomb squad, I pass straight through, turning left just before reaching the now-empty red carpet.
6:30 - We're informed that we don't have to be at our posts until 7:30, but our credentials allow us access to the press room, which is a series of conference/meeting/banquet rooms in the Renaissance hotel. The food spread is insane - these guys get hooked up. We can watch live feed from the show, but better still we can see the presenters and winners come off stage, get their photos taken, and start their interviews. Here I saw Anne Hathaway, Steve Carrell, Brad Bird, Alan Arkin, and Tilda Swinton.
8:00 - At post. 4 of the groups are posted at the 4th floor escalators, where most of the 1500 ball attendees will enter. One guy gets posted at the exit to the hotel pool area, which is the supersecret exit from the Big 7 winners room, and he's only expected to get about 20 people through (including entourage). My partner and I are positioned in what is rumored to be the sucky spot - an exit nobody is supposed to use except for some production staff that may be exiting from the cheap seats, and the infirmed (who are using an elevator-accessible exit because of wheelchairs or etc.). We're supposed to get like 50 people max. For the sucky post we get a bit of a bonus though - we're inside the theater - out of the cold, on carpet (yay, heels!), and we can see live feed of the show (no audio).
8:30 - 10pm - Ticket Taking. We have a security detail that will stop anyone who tries to bully past us, but the only person who does is Gil Cates, the show producer. Took about 5 minutes to get him to follow the rules, but that was our only real incident. We got about 200 people through our door, and here's where it gets good. Someone somewhere told someone that there was a 5th floor supersecret exit, which VIPs felt entitled to use. So, I'm propping the door open (because it's really heavy for the old people to push through) stamping hands with a reentry stamp (the invisible amusement park blacklight type). At a little lull, I pop back all the way inside, and about 30 yards away I see a dress that I recognize from E! Red Carpet. I look up, and on this girl's right arm... headed our way.... OH MY GOD IT'S CLOONEY!!!!!
Ok, so here I am, thinking the biggest celeb I'm gonna see all night is the 98 year old art director who got the lifetime achievement award, and instead I'm about to touch George Clooney's hand. My partner instructs me not to freak out. I go back to my post, and all of a sudden there he is. "Can I have your hand?" I say. He gives it to me, looks at his hand, and says "There's nothing there." "It's invisible. We don't want to distract from your pretty outfit" I say (that's been my "schtick" all night). "Well, now I'm radioactive!" he says. I then made some RIDICULOUS comment about him glowing, and an even MORE ridiculous comment to his girlfriend about how she was already glowing. DUH!
So, the night couldn't have gotten any better from there, but there was a lot of icing on the cake. Jon Stewart came through and asked me to stamp him on the inside of his palm. Ruby Dee came through and was totally disoriented by my instructions for her to turn right. Cate Blanchett took the special exit because she was afraid of getting her baby belly bumped. We also had Sissy Spacek, Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook, Regis Philbin, that old guy referenced above, Quincy Jones and his 25 year old date (dude's a PIMP) and Paul Dano (the preacher in There Will Be Blood, also the silent brother in Little Miss Sunshine).
When we were finally relieved of our duties, we were told that we were invited for food and drinks IN the Governor's Ball itself, but we had to wait until 11:30 for all the stars to leave. So, we took a seat on a bench on the 4th floor by the escalators, and - if it wasn't for Clooney - this would have been the best part of the whole night. EVERYBODY had to go down this set of escalators to get to their car, limo, or valet. It was like being on the Anti-Red Carpet - everyone going home. Jesus, pretty much you name them, I saw them, but here's just a few: The Cohen Bros, Jason Reitman, Wolfgang Puck, Josh Brolin & Diane Lane, Daniel Day Lewis, Viggo Mortenson, Amy Adams, John Travolta & Kelly Preston, Javier Bardem, ...I can't even remember them all. Ask me, and I'll tell you. Unless they left the party super early, I caught them.
11:30 - we get to go to the party. As we walk in, we get gold-dusted chocolate oscars.
To the right is the Good Morning America couches, now empty. To the left is an open bar, and an amazing asian seafood spread, including the most (and best!) sashimi I have ever seen. Hard not to gorge on all of it. When we finally get inside, we're seated at tables that were previously hosting (presumably) superstars. I could have been sitting in Johnny Depp's chair for all I know.
The food is amazing, kobe beef sliders, caviar, tuna tartar, filet mignon, mac& cheese with truffles. Jesus. I think I didn't get home until about 2am.
Ok, well anyway. Best Night Ever. And I am running away with George Clooney. Here's a picture of us together at the party, talking to one of the Cohen's.
Oh, and for anyone who cares, this was my dress: