Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party-with-a-purpose in Malibu...the morning after...

Milena and I getting ready...

Although I can’t deny my disappointment at the lack of big star no-shows (though maybe its for the best, my journalist head, may have fallen off should Collin Firth actually have walked into the room!) Last night was great fun. I drank cosmopolitans, miraculously managed to stay standing on my heels all night, and found quite a few ladies and gents still taller than me!

The representative for Covenant House (who partnered with director Dianne Namm to make ‘Finding Hope’) gave an extremely poignant speech at the beginning of the evening.

‘Finding Hope’ tells the story of young Esmee, who is forced to become a runaway when she is seduced into a cult of pimps then pursued by the government as a key witness. 

One in three million children in America are homeless, 40,000 12-20 year olds, this is a very under publicised, and Dianne’s film is for the runaways she has worked with, and the many more who never make it into counselling and safety, or who don’t survive the ordeals they are forced to undergo.   

I met the beautiful supporting actress Virginia and we had a nice little chat about the blog, and the movie and (inevitably) London. Her husband is a musician and has worked with Sir Paul McCartney and both have spent quite a bit of time in my part of the world.

Both Virginia and True Blood baddy Andy McKenzie said how great it was working with Dianne, and both loved the project.

It was extremely inspiring to be surrounded by creative, successful artists who care about using their ‘clout’ to make a difference, to make a change, to help people. I spoke to Miss teen California, Alexia (who was also taller than me!) and we talked about the stigma that comes with pageants. Of course originally they weren’t just about ‘hot babes in bikinis’ (though no doubt that was a big selling point) but referring back to my extensive pageant knowledge (mainly from watching Miss Congeniality about 50 times in my early teens) Pageant contestants won, not only on their looks and talents, but also for their opinions on world politics, economics and “world peace”.

Alexia professed her hopes to use her title in order to do something useful and helpful in the world. Which, considering how much money is floating around this town, was reassuring to hear from supporters of a low budged human-rights feature.

The ambience of Dianne’s cozy, wood-furnished ‘weekend home’ was intimate and fairly low-key.

Dianne (third from the left) was of course in high demand all night, but Suniil and I managed to grab a pic with her as we left:

The ambience of Dianne’s cozy, wood-furnished ‘weekend home’ was intimate and fairly low-key. The food was delectable, if slightly insufficient to mop up the outrageous whisky cocktails, and most people went around smelling like cheesy crackers for the second half of the evening...I wisely stuck to the fruit...

 The food was delectable, if slightly insufficient to mop up the outrageous whisky cocktails, and most people went around smelling like cheesy crackers for the second half of the evening.

Producer Lee, in her fabulous Vintage glasses, talking about writing, and the ethics of film making and other palatable delights.

All in all a fun night, topped off with my favourite comment – ‘darling, look at her shoes, well they’re just fabulous! Which made all the hobbling back to the car worth it, and ladies, I know you know what I mean when I say that slipping out of heels into those boots/flats in the car is one of the most euphoric feelings known to mankind.

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sum-up of 2011 Oscars nominations

Here is a sum-up of the nominations for the main categories this year - I find it hard to keep up as it is, I need to know! 


For Best Lead Actor we have:
Javier Bardem-     Biutiful

Jeff Bridges-         Tru Grit

Jesse Eisenberg-  The Social Network

Colin Firth-           The Kings Speech

James Franco-      127 Hours

For Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale-     The Fighter
John Hawkes-      Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner-   The Town
Mark Ruffalo-     The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush-    The King's Speech     (see above)
For Best Lead Actress:

Annette Bening-       The Kids Are All Right   (see above)

Nicole Kidman-         Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence-  Winter's Bone     (see above)
Natalie Portman-       Black Swan
Michelle Williams-     Blue Valentine

For Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams-                    The Fighter     (see above) 

Helena Bonham Carter-  The King's Speech     (see above)
Melissa Leo-                   The Fighter     (see above)
Hailee Steinfeld-             True Grit     (see above)
Jacki Weaver-       Animal Kingdom
For Best Picture:

Black Swan     (see above)
Tru Grit     (see above)
The Kings Speech     (see above)
The Social Network     (see above)
Winters Bone     (see above)
The Kids Are Alright     (see above)
127 Hours     (see above)
The Fighter     (see above)
In my opinion there are no sure things this year, so it'll be a very exciting night! 
Ama J. Budge                                                                                                                                  

Special Correspondent 

Pre-Oscar party-with-a-purpose

Howdy chaps, so keep an eye on our twitter tonight cause we’ll be tweeting you instant updates from the ‘Pre-Oscar party-with-a-purpose’ tonight in Malibu. I’m getting out the red dress and my new heels (which I totally cannot walk in – deffo bringing boots to change into!) to mingle with some celebs and catch a sneak preview of Award-winning director Dianne Namm’s new film ‘Finding Hope’.

“As a writing mentor, Namm spent two years doing writing workshops with young girls in group homes and drug rehab centers, listening to the stories and experiences that these “throwaway” children had endured.  FINDING HOPE is for them and those like them, whose voices are almost never heard.”

Find out more about Dianne's work at her website:

Expected celebrities from the film include, (Left to right) Molly Quinn, Chris Mulkey, Richard Reihle, Andy Mackenzie (True Blood), Christine Elise and Ray Abruzzo (The Sopranos).

As well as Oscar nominees from The King’s Speech and The Social Network, Katharine Ross (The Graduate, Donnie Darko), La Toya Jackson (Recording Artist), Lee Daniels (2010 Best Director Academy-Award Nominee for Precious), Quinton Aaron (Actor, The Blind Side), supermodel Jaimie Hilfiger, Donna D'Errico (Baywatch), Nathalie Fay (The Hangover), Patrick Kilpatrick (Minority Report), Desreta Jackson (The Color Purple - which I am personally extremely excited about - she was the young Celie! High School English Literature is all coming back to me now...), Kristen Quintrall (Transformers Dark of the Moon), Brett Stimely (Watchman, Transformers 3) and many more.

I'm certainly excited :D

If your not throwing/attending your own pre-Oscars party tonight, whip up an oatmeal face mask, iron out your best party dress and get some beauty sleep cause tomorrows the big night!

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent 

Celebrities support Jamie Oliver's food revolution as he attempts to take on 'The Unhealthiest City in America'

Renowned British chef Jamie Oliver has landed in Huntington, West Virginia, statistically named ‘Unhealthiest City in America’ and is planning to change the lives of its 50,000 inhabitants. They won’t know what hit them.
See link below for the trailer:

Not only will this show be brought to your television screens, you can help bring the food revolution to your community and into your very own homes by signing Oliver’s petition here. 


Celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Sir Paul McCartney, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen Degeneres and Rickey Gervais are all supporters of Jamie’s movement, now you can be too. 

Known for revolutionising British School dinners, Jamie has come to schools in Georgia, Florida, California and many more States to share the secrets of easy, healthy, delicious food. With obesity one of the largest growing epidemics today, as he says, “this is about life and death.”

Check out some of Jamie's home recipes and find out more at:

Or follow his journey on Facebook:

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent  

Hofstra U takes home 2011 Oscars Correspondent Grand Prize

Luz Pena and Philip Robibero from Hostra University

In a media-packed presentation that start-to-finish lasted less than 20 minutes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and mtvU, MTV’s this morning announced that Luz Pena and Philip Robibero from Hofstra University are the 2011 Oscars Correspondent Contest Grand Prize winners and as such have locked backstage accommodations, a spot on the tomorrow’s red carpet for the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony and tickets to the Governors Ball.

2011 Oscars Correspondent Contest Grand Prize winners

Academy president Tom Sherak said, “Luz and Philip made a strong impression with the Academy selection panel and the online voters. I know they will represent the college community well. They are in for an unforgettable experience – the red carpet at the Oscars is like no place else on earth.”

Coverage from Luz and Philip will be up on and next week.

The three competing finalists were flown to Los Angeles and have covered a flurry of events including Animated Feature Symposium, Foreign Language Film Award Nominees Photo Op, the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Symposium, and the Governors Ball preview.

Today’s winners were selected from a second mtvU online poll and further evaluated by a rock solid team of entertainment journalists -- Brooke Anderson, co-host of Showbiz Tonight; Sandy Cohen from the Associated Press; and Adam Weissler from Extra.

Runners-up Blake Mitchell and David Torcivia from the University of Georgia and Sarah Erickson and Joel Kutz from the University of Southern California will also have red carpet access – but from the bleachers at the  El Capitan Theatre.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Watch Part 2: 13th Costume Designers Guild Awards

Too bad none of these dresses are a double digit -- like a 10 -- otherwise I'd really be foaming at the mouth.  For me, it is LBD on Sunday.  Join Angelina Jolie and a ballroom full of stars for the 13th Costume Designers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel  on February 22, 2011.

ABC gets to hang on to Oscarcast until 2020

The stunning Dame Helen Mirren

Oh happy day for ABC.

For a ballpark payout of $50 million per year, the network will hang onto its annual Oscarcast, Daily Variety reports, through 2020, with the latest licensing agreement to have expired in 2014.

Watch 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards

For a peek into Hollywood's hottest closests, check out the amazing couiture on the backs of the likes of Diane Lane, Claire Danes, Ginnefer Goodwin, Kathy Griffin, Kellan Lutz, Issiah Mustafa and Kristin Davis at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards video transcript held February 22, 2011 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, covered by one of this blog's writers, London-based Ama Jo Buldge.

Video is courtesy of the Lippen Group.

A quick rundown of 2011 Costume Designers Guild Award winners looks like this:

EXCELLENCE IN PERIOD FILM The King’s Speech – Jenny Beavan
EXCELLENCE IN FANTASY FILM Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood
EXCELLENCE IN COMMERCIAL COSTUME DESIGN Chanel – Bleu de Chanel – Aude Bronson‐Howard

Hollywood Boulevard: Ama Jo Budge on-the-street pre-Oscars 2011

I took to the streets this afternoon to inhale the pre-2011 Academy Awards Hollywood buzz. The road in front of Hollywood Boulevard is already blocked off with scaffolding, patrolled by security guards, and watched over by the towering canvas Oscars Award itself. The cramped corridors between the blockade and the shop walls becomes crammed with tourists, film-buffs, and locals alike, the usual touristy excitement heightened as people tramp up and down the (plastic covered) red carpet

I meet and talk to not only locals and Easterners but also some girls from Switzerland, a couple from Sweden and Norway, and a Dutch woman (the Scandinavians out in numbers)! I ask them whether they will be here on Sunday night or at home watching the Oscars, most say yes (apart from the occasional oblivious local). The general opinion is that best film will be a toss up between Black Swan and The Kings Speech (which took the British Academy Film Award for best film in the UK earlier this month) with which I agree, although there were a few batters on The Fighter’s team too.

A knowledgeable local showing around his New York friend gets into great detail, saying that The Kings Speech will undoubtedly take Best Film, although True Grit will be ‘the dark horse’. He predicts Colin Firth for best actor, Christian Bale for best supporting actor, and to my surprise names a pregnant Natalie Portman as the stunner he will be looking out for – “her talent makes her even more attractive” I am blown away, I must admit (they don’t think like that where I come from – and we’re supposed to be the gentlemen!) 

(Hollywood Blvd last week, and now...)

Some of the younger generation remind me (somewhat to my embarrassment) that Justin Timberlake does of course appear in The Social Network and will therefore be the hottie they are looking out for, with James Franco (127 Hoursbrining up a slightly more mature fan base.

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie still take the cake for hottest celebs however, what a shame The Tourist was such a let down, I guess there is such a thing as too much gorgeousness on one set...

I meet some photographers from Portland, Oregon who will be working the red carpet on Sunday. They are all together unimpressed with the celebrity-hunger that surrounds them, refusing to pronounce any star-struckness other than a ones grudging confession that Sigourney Weaver said ‘hi’ to him last year “which was pretty cool”.

(Yes these were totally for my 8 yr old brother - if you can't beat em join em!)

I am undaunted, and soon meet a group of three (what I would call ‘lads’) from San Francisco who amusingly bicker over whether Scarlet Johansson, Angelina Jolie, or Natalie Portman deserve their most attractive vote. The discussion comes to the satisfying conclusion when one loudly concludes that regardless he would "definitely go gay for George Clooney…" To which I could think of no reply other than maybe (who wouldn't?)

Back to the professional stuff, they tipped Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) for best supporting actress and gave the first (and only) vote for The Kids Are Alright stating that Hollywood was sure to give the ‘lesbian nod’. I did not get into the discussion that I have had with many others about whether or not this film actually discusses or appropriately deals with Annette Benning and Julianne Moore’s characters sexuality at all, let alone the fact that Hollywood is not known for giving 'nods' of any kind to my knowledge.

There seems to be an overall feeling that Natalie Portman (Black Swan) deserves Best Actress despite previous loyalties for the consistent talent of (Rabbit Hole) Nicole Kidman (I will certainly always hold Annette Benning in a special place of high reverence in my heart) but Portman's got my money too…


I get stopped by a young woman reporting for a Boston TV show and do not hesitate to stop and have a bit of a chat about the Oscars on camera, and give a shout out for the blog of course.

My favourite comment of the afternoon/evening may be a Swedish young woman claiming, when asked who she would be most excited to see in Hollywood this week – “I want to see John Travolta!”

The tension is certainly building in Hollywood, stay-tuned folks, I have a feeling we could all be surprised, come Sunday night…

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Academy Awards: Searchable Datebase

For all of you Academy Award trivia freaks, here's a handy searchable database provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Want to know who won Lead Actor the year you were born, check it out.!/2011Oscars

2011 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure: Oscar 2011 Sunday @ 9AM

Expect surprise celebrities at the 2011 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure Oscar Sunday morning -- a cause I have participated in over the past 10 years since my cousin, a classical musician, Stanford University educator -- Dr. Adrienne Maravich Meckel was diagnosed with cancer over a decade ago and survived to see her children graduate from college -- and was a year short of seeing her first grandchild born. 

Adrienne survived nearly a decade beyond her prognosis thanks to advanced cancer treament and awareness and to the Susan G. Koman organization and many otherslike it, I am thankful for their continuing work in combatting this inciduous disease.

I urge each and every one of you to donate generously to the cause and to come out Sunday, February 27, 2011 to Dodger Stadium, located at 1000 Elysian Park Avenue in Los Angeles to cheer on celebrities Brenda Song, Aimee Garcia, Nia Long and others in support of this great cause.!/2011Oscars

2011 Academy Awards tidbits: Depp & Bale 2011 hotties, big no to media recording devices after Feb. 23

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the 2011 Oscars

Our woman on-the-street, Ama Jo Budge, at Hollywood & Highland claims that her personal survey reconfirms Johnny Depp as the hottest actor alive with Christian Bale following in second place of women aged 15 to 60 surveyed during this 2011 Oscar week.

Media warning -- wireless devices are verbotten after February 23, 2011.


Academy Awards 2011: 3D mega performance may impact Oscar pics

Rumblings that 3D -- the new box office panacea -- may have judges inclined to vote for a genre that will keep money flowing in Hollywood could have an impact on the 2011 Academy Awards results.

Today, the Motion Picture Association of America reported that global box office reached $31.8 billion, a global box office record with an 8% increase in 2010 over last year, Daily Variety reports, with a drop 5% drop in actual domestic attendance.

So how does this affect the 2011 Oscars?

Dunno yet, but, I've got a cool $100 on Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland taking home some bacon.

Follow us:!/2011Oscars

Academy Awards 2011: Live coverage of the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel

Reported by Special Correspondent, Ama J. Budge

Ama Jo Budge with Better Midler
I arrive outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel in my taxi about feeling very glamorous indeed and stroll into the hotel, nodding at the security guard as if I was born there. Once inside I become much shyer, finally finding the woman I’m supposed to speak to and getting my press badge. The entire lobby oozes with the distinct aromas of fame, excitement, and extremely expensive taste.

Follow us on Twitter:!/2011Oscars

Finding my place in the red carpet line, I talk to other press members, peruse the ‘tip-list’ (as it sounds literally a list of the big names and faces attending) and await the arrival of the celebrities. Trickle turns to flood and suddenly the room is a-flash with shouting photographers all vying for the attention of the biggest stars. Sex and the City star Kristin Davis is hosting the evening, and appears in a floating black and white polka-dot gown.

In the flesh, and throughout the evening, she is every bit the trotting, beaming, adorable beauty of ‘Charlotte’ the character we have come to know and love her for. In her interviews she talks about the importance of costume for acting as well as for people, down to the importance in every shoe, and the value of the modern woman’s flats in which she feels comfortable and strong.

Praising the work of the designers:

“Tiny details all come together on screen to create what everyone takes for granted…its very intertwined and complicated and amazing, what they do.”

And of Halle Berry:

Halle is a genius in so many ways and such a generous person, she’s a sweetheart.”

These sentiments were echoed later not only by the president of the Costume Designers Guild, Mary Rose (see below) but also by Samuel L Jackson as he presents Berry with the Lacoste Spotlight Award. This award singles out an actor who has proved consistently committed to achieving excellence in their role and shown a particular awareness to the integral operation of costume design within that role.

A personal favourute of mine, Lisa Edelsein (who plays the character of Cuddy - Dr. House’s love interest and Dean of Medicine in the hit US show House) appears on the red carpet looking stunning in Viviane Westwood and I positively leap on the poor woman for a photograph, who is extremely gracious and agrees.

She will be presenting the Outstanding Contemporary Television Series Award along with Melora Hardin (The Office).

All-American hunk James Bamber arrives lurking on the side lines, somewhat shy out of his Battlestar Galactica uniform. 

I meet Bette Midler in the cocktail lounge, a childhood icon of mine and manage to get a photo with her to both mine (and my mother's) delight. 

The red carpet is rounded off with Halle Berry’s extraordinary
entrance in her Elie Saab Haute Couture gown. 

I step into the cavernous room which is bedecked in classy green and black, alight with the chinking of cocktail glasses, sparkling eyes and glittering chandeliers.

Lou Eyrich begins the evening, taking the
Award for Best Contemporary Television Series

Outstanding Period/Fantasy Television Series goes to
John Dunn and Lisa Padovanni for Empire Boardwalk 

Michael Dennison who passed away last September at the premature age of 58 was mourned and respected tonight as he joined the Guild’s Hall of Fame. Known for work such as ‘Almost Famous’, ‘What Women Want’, ‘Basic Instinct’, and Eat Pray Love’, Dennison, or as his colleagues call him ‘Dixie’ showed extraordinary diversity within his work, from the comic-book like caricatures of The Spirit to the raw, true story: World Trade Centre’.

Julia Roberts, his long time friend, colleague and neighbour held a personal memorial for him in her home last year, and he received a standing ovation in the hall tonight.

The Big Love cast present the Award for Outstanding television movie or miniseries

Mary Rose, President of the Costume Designers Guild pulls off a funeral-worthy netted black hat, though she is barely seen behind the podium. She thanks Lacoste as the Guild’s Presenting Sponsor and Halle Berry who received the Lacoste Spotlight Award this evening. 

Bill Marr begins a heartfelt and fairly hilarious speech in honour of Joel Schumacher, costume designer, writer and director, having worked on pieces such asCarwash’  with Woody Allen, ‘Batman Forever’, ‘Phone Booth’ and the adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.


The gorgeous Isaiah Mustafa presents the award for Excellence in Commercial Design, which goes to Aude Bronson-Howard.

British costume designer Jenny Beavan wins the Excellence in Period Film Award for the kings speech which has received political acclaim both here and in the UK, winning six Awards, including Best Film, out of thirteen nominations.

Hollywood’s Star-studded couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore take the podium to present Julie Weiss with the Disaronno Career Achievement in Film and Television Award.

Weiss’s impressive repertoire includes ‘American Beauty’, ‘Frida’, ‘Secretariat’, ‘The Ring’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, and most recently No Strings Attatched’. She is spoken of with love and respect by several directors and actors:

“This eccentric, amazing little woman…(who) finds the music in the wardrobe…”


Which is awarded to Amy Westcott for Black Swan, who is brought nearly to tears when thanking her husband, son and team:

“Any costume designer isn’t worth anything without a fantastic team.”

I get a little star-struck myself as Samuel L Jackson takes the stage in a dashing tux to Pulp Fiction’s timeless Pumpkin and Honey Bunny/Misirlou soundtrack.

He honours Halle Berry with familiarity, admiration and respect, reading the praise of some   designers who’ve worked with her, before presenting her with the Lacoste Spotlight Award.

After showing the tribute video of her career, Jackson finishes with (what I think was on everyone’s mind, male and female alike…) 

 “Nothing beats leather"

After snapping a shot in the ladies with another personal icon of mine - Holland Taylor, I make my way to the cues outside the Beverly Hilton and the valet hails me a cab.

I have much enjoyed reporting for you this evening, stay tuned for the
rest of Oscars week, and thanks for reading!