If it’s almost January, it’s almost film festival time. And 2014 being the 25th anniversary of this star-studded affair invented by former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono, you just know maestro Harold Matzner and the film fest staff are going to pull out all the stops not only for the global lineup of films (the festival runs January 3-13) but for the Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, January 4.
While I somehow always manage to nab a ticket at a primo table for the Awards Gala—either by making arrangements well in advance, or by depending on the kindness of strangers—I’m also privy to some of the action backstage. After the fact, naturellement. That’s because my good pals David and Daniel are the writers who script the show. What does that mean, exactly? I’m glad you asked, since I didn’t know either initially. Basically, largely what’s said on stage comes from their heads. That includes everything from the offstage voice intoning, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host for the evening, Mary Hart” to the words uttered by the A-list movie stars who serve as presenters of the actual awards to the A-list movie stars who are there as honorees. Sometimes, the guys even help actors and actresses workout their acceptance speeches.
Just some of the glitterati David and Daniel have worked with in the desert include Brad Pitt, Andrew Garfield, Adrian Brody, Melissa McCarthy, Helen Mirren, Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Diane Lane, and George Clooney.
So far, the honorees that have been announced for 2014 include Matthew McConaughey (actor for “Dallas Buyers Club”), Sandra Bullock (actress for “Gravity”), Julia Roberts (actress for “August: Osage County”), Bruce Dern (actor for “Nebraska”), director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”), and the ensemble cast from “American Hustle” (including Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence). There are a handful of other awards to be announced, and even though David and Daniel are already working on those presentations, they have been sworn to secrecy. Another thing they can’t tell me—because in this case they don’t actually know—is who will present all these wonderful trophies to these brilliantly talented performers. Awards show presenters are often confirmed close to the date of the show. But since there’s much less than a month before the big night, my patience will soon be rewarded. No matter who shows up the night of, the evening is always sensational…not to mention a great predictor of who will be nominated for Academy Awards just two weeks later, on January 16. I hope you have your seat reserved, because the Awards Gala is sold out, as it is every single year. Now if I could only decide which fab gown I’m going to wear to this unbelievably chic black tie soiree! Wish me luck. And enjoy the 25th anniversary of our fabulous film festival!