Feb 14, 2011

"I'll be your escort!" -- The GRAMMYS, Part II

I have never worked an event or a weekend of events at this caliber, but I'm used to the red carpet rodeo: wrangling talent, hustling them down the carpet, attempting to sedate the photographers and setting the talent free into the acutal event.  The reason why I love these things is because I recognize everyone.  Even if you're nobody, I will recognize you for something.  Heck, I was at The Den a few weeks ago and saw Erik from O-Town, and they haven't been relevant for years.  Everyone thought I was crazy.  I recognize writers, performers, directors... really anyone.  This makes me an ideal person for "talent spotting."  Yes, that is an actual job, where someone stands at the curb with a mic and relays to everyone who is has arrived so that they may get an escort.

Here's the low-down:

Thursday was the Music Preservation "Word Revolution" event, hosted by the GRAMMY Foundation.  It was a hip-hop event, so people like DJ Jazzy Jeff, Paul Wall and A Tribe Called Quest were in attendance.  I didn't do much there because they already had a full staff, but it was a great kick off to GRAMMY weekend.  Rumor had it that Prince was going to show up and I was about to lose my cool but he never showed.  Womp Womp.  Then I precisely left and went to a co-worker's good-bye party and showed my office what I'm most famous for: my Michael Jackson impressions.  My boss won't let me live that one down...  (Note: there may or may not be a video online somewhere of me dancing to 'Thriller' in a face mask.)

I left work early to get to the LA Convention Center so I could help out with the MusiCares event, where Barbra Streisand was being honored.  Guests included everyone from Matthew Morrison to Leann Rimes to Stevie Wonder to Jason Mraz.  Like I mentioned, I haven't worked with this caliber of talent or this huge of an event before, so while it was work, it was also eye-opening and exciting.  Let me say this: I have a new found respect for the media and celebrities.  First off, the media are crazy.  Red carpets like this are nuts, especially with A-list talent, because everyone wants (and needs) an interview, and getting one good photo could dramatically enhance someone's life -- a good or bad photo could get them up to $100,000.  So they're all like rabid animals screaming and yelling at the star to get their attention as they walk the red.  Of course, bigger names like ET and E! don't have to go into screaming matches because the talent usually comes to them, and their publicist wants them to do interviews with those outlets.  But everyone else is out for the kill.  While I respect the media for doing their job, I also think they're a tad bit crazy, and I fully understand now why celebrities tend to hate paparazzi because I can only imagine what they'd be like if they weren't in a contained environment. 
What you really want to know:  LeAnn Rimes attended and performed and she needs to start eating.  She looks incredibly thin.  I am always surprised when I see celebrities because they might look like they're in great shape on TV or in the magazines, but then you see them in real life and they're waifs.  Darren Criss was there, what a dreamboat!  He had a girl with him, who also showed up to other events during the weekend, so I'm guessing he isn't gay in real life.  Matthew Morrison showed up with JC Chasez which was a major blast from the past -- JC took the backseat to Matt, obviously, but he seemed okay with that.

At one point, a girl got out of a car and I was like "OH MYLANTA.  Her boobs are huge!"  And then I looked up and realized it was Jewel.  She is pregnant and hot damn, girl is showing.  Not just in her stomach.  She is beautiful, but then again who isn't in Hollywood?  This photo does not do the girl justice.

So who did I walk down the red?  Well, in true diva form, I got Lea Michele.  This was the ongoing theme of weekend.  So she arrives and looks gorgeous and I had to take her and her publicist around the carpet backwards because she was performing and wanted to rest her voice.  We took her around the back and had her do the stand-and-repeat so she wouldn't have to talk.  Instead, all the paps just screamed at her for photos.

We had a pre-GRAMMY walk-thru at Staples so it wouldn't be a complete cluster on Sunday.  All the escorts got together and we walked the carpet so we could be prepared when we were walking the nominees and talent down.  This carpet was HUGE.  On TV it looks so confined, but there are at least 50 outlets there all doing coverage.  Here's how it works.  ET and E! have the two bigger platforms, although they're rather small.  Then in a separate section there's Access Hollywood, Extra!, TV Guide and so on, with other shows like Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, VH1, BET, MTV, etc. doing their coverage.  Then in another section there are smaller crews for stuff like online media and whatnot.  So it's pretty much a madhouse.  After all the media, there is an area for photographers and at the end are bleachers where lucky fans get to sit and scream for all the celebrities who are doing the stand-and-repeat (by the way, I'm referring to a photo wall when I say that). 

That night was the Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Gala at the Beverly Hilton.  The best part about this night was a) I got to wear a headset with a mic, so I felt like I was in the CIA and b) all the talent that showed was all A list talent.  It gets incredibly awkward at events when randoms show up and you have to ask who they are and what they do, not just for you but for them as well.  And let's be honest, if I have to ask you who you are, it's a problem.  Working with recognizable faces made things so much smoother.  And yes, for the record, randoms do show up to events with aggressive publicists who want to get them photo-ops but really, if I were a no-name 'celebrity', I'd be mortified to do that stuff.
Anyway, some of us were general escorts and some were assigned talent.  That means we had a particular person to look after because they had something to do, so we had to be sure they left the carpet in time to do it -- in this case, it was a photoshoot.  I was assigned Chaka Khan.  
I knew Chaka wasn't going to be the first or even the 20th person to arrive -- she's Chaka, she's every woman, she's a legend -- she can do what she wants.  In the mean time, I helped out talent spotting and escorted when necessary.  God bless anyone who can wear an earpiece on a regular basis because it's a struggle trying to talk to someone and listen to someone else in your ear.  

Chace, Nick & JC
Sooooo who all showed to this par-tay?  And who did I escort?  Well, first person I took down was, drumroll please.............. JC Chasez.  Yes, this is what we call 'fate' people! My 13-year-old self would probably be like, Gah Kirbie, you're SO AWESOME RIGHT NOW.  I mean, it all comes full circle.  When I was young, I loved *NSYNC and at one concert we got a video of me kissing JC on the cheek.  This was the highlight of my young life.  Now, here I am, escorting him down the carpet.  He seemed unenthusiastic about walking the carpet but his publicist insisted.  Not like he was 'over it' or anything, but more like he didn't think he should be walking it.  He took some photos and I got him to the party.  

Next up was Toni Braxton.  What a doll.  She was really nice and extremely friendly to the media -- she did photos and even interviews with smaller camera crews.
My last escort was Chaka but the lady knows her way around a red carpet.  Not much work to be done there.
In between all that, I people watched and talent spotted.  Everyone was there.  Noteables:  John Mayer showed up and I fully understand why he is so appealing to women in Hollywood -- he's tall.  It's like when you see a bunch of blonde puppies and there's one dark one, you immediately are attracted to the dark one because it's different.  Nobody is tall here, especially the men.  So yeah, he was rocking his molester 'stache and looking handsome and I couldn't help but to think to myself "Sexual Napalm."

Miley Cyrus came, and that was kind of surreal for me because you see her all over the tabloids and then whoop, there she is.  She looks 18-years-old.  When she stepped on to the carpet, the photographers went crazy.  I have never heard roaring that loud in my life.  It sounded like a massacare. 
I backed into Sharon Osbourne and Kelly on accident. Whoopsies.  I love them both so I was *kind* of hoping they're bust out an curse word.
Randy Jackson is hilarious!  He's outgoing, talks to the press, randoms, everyone really.  And he busts into interviews while others are talking and makes things more lively. 
Chace Crawford and JC Chasez arrived with Matthew Morrison.
Katy Perry was the last to arrive and holy boobs, she looked AMAZING.  I'm so enthralled with her.  I just stare at her.  Like wow, what a beautiful specimen of a human being. 
Others included were: Oprah's BFF Gayle King, Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, Dave Grohl, Mumford & Sons, Diddy, Jennifer Hudson came with Clive Davis himself, Serena Williams, Nick Jonas, Sarah Silverman, Lenny Kravitz, Janelle Monet, among many, many others.  Cher was at the party, but didn't walk the red.

I had a great time and hope I get the opportunity to do more events like this one in the future.  Next post will be all about the GRAMMYS & the red carpet!


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