Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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.

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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!

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