A veritable who’s who of Hollywood hot shots was on hand to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the awards gala that anchors the Palm Springs International Film Festival. On Saturday, January 4, 2014, you know who (yours truly, of course) made the quick trek from her home in Rancho Mirage to the Palm Springs Convention Center to see the stars align on the red carpet.
My choice spot was so close to the arrivals area that I saw it all. Tom Hanks climbing into the bright yellow sports car Mercedes-Benz had on loan on the red carpet—and then corralling Bradley Cooper and Sandra Bullock into a three-way conversation for the cameras…Julia Roberts and Matthew McConaughey crossing the street to chat with fans and sign autographs to the deafening cheers of those who’d waited all day for an up-close-and-personal glimpse of their favorite actors…gorgeous newcomer Lupita Nyong’o from “12 Years a Slave” making the most of the spotlight as every media outlet clamored for her attention…Amy Adams chatting with host Mary Hart for the “Entertainment Tonight” cameras…and Meryl Streep trying to figure out how to reverse the camera on her iPhone in order to take a red carpet selfie with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. I even spied Hollywood royal Jane Fonda and too-hot-to-handle Colin Farrell as they dipped and ducked to avoid the cams and flashbulbs altogether.
Inside, Hart once again did an admirable job of keeping things rolling as the awards show got underway. The tribute reels and honoree presentations came fast and furious as 11 awards were given out in just over three hours. Acceptance speeches were brief but so refreshingly more candid and heartfelt than they usually are at such affairs as the Oscars and the Golden Globes. McConaughey’s passion…Bullock’s dry humor…Hanks’ obvious affection for real-life pal Roberts…and Streep’s self-deprecation were the standouts in an evening that was so classy and chock-full of Tinseltown luminaries (not to mention sold out to a crowd of more than 2100 attendees) that I have no idea how Palm Springs International Film Society (and awards gala honcho) Harold Matzner, gala executive producer Richard DeSantis, director Bill Finlay, and my very own writer pals David and Daniel will top themselves next year. Still, I have no doubt they will. They always do. The Awards Gala has grown tremendously, year in and year out, over the last quarter-decade, and seems to make the entire Palm Springs Valley shine brighter and brighter on the worldwide map. If you’ve never attended, do yourself a big favor and make it a must for 2015.