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The grand ballroom at Hollywood and Highland shimmered with Oscar gold on February 9, when doors opened for a preview of the Governor’s Ball, the biggest Oscar after-party in town. Following the 82nd Academy Awards on Sunday, March 7 at the Kodak Theatre, an estimated 1,500 award winners, nominees and guests will take a short walk to the Grand Ballroom to be whisked away to the late 1930s.
The theme of this year’s gala is Streamline Moderne, a late incarnation of Art Deco design that favors curves and long lines. It’s a simpler take on Art Deco, a pared down version that uses earth tones and clean lines. The style was most evident in the lighting fixtures on display at the preview, chandeliers with dangling beads that formed snaking “s” shapes above the ballroom.
Event producer Cheryl Cecchetto said everything from the lighting design to the waitstaff’s attire was carefully chosen to create a period feel.
“The Governor’s Ball will fuse eclectic and innovative design elements reminiscent of the era and the style,” Cecchetto said. “The overall look will marry artistic originality with the Academy’s own tradition of class and elegance.”
Nowhere was that elegance more apparent than in the table dressings, shimmering charcoal grey tableclothes topped with perfectly crafted arrangements of deep purple Calla lilies designed by Mark Held of Mark’s Garden. Other flowers incorporated into the décor include hydrangeas from New Zealand, Rothchild Vanda orchids from Thailand and organically grown roses from Ecuador.
“The old Earl Carrol theatre in Hollywood and the historic interior designs of Dorothy Draper in the 1930’s and 1940’s were our inspiration, but the overall effect is definitely contemporary,” Held said.
Though the décor provided plenty of eye candy, the real candy was at master chef Wolfgang Puck’s table, which was dotted with mini-chocolate Oscars covered with edible gold dust. For the 16th consecutive year, Puck is crafting and executing the menu for the Governor’s Ball with the help of 250 culinary staff members, who will work with 1,000 pounds of wild salmon, 190 pounds of Taylor Bay scallops and countless additional ingredients. The menu includes tray passed hors d’oeuvres such as black truffle and ricotta cheese pizza, mini Kobe burgers, smoked salmon pizza with caviar and dill cream, and chicken pot stickers. Salmon and chicken pot pie are the main dishes, and dessert consists of Puck’s own “L’Etoile de Oscar”, baked Alaska with espresso glace, chocolate sorbet and toasted meringue. And don’t forget about those chocolate Oscars, 4,000 total.
“The Governor’s Ball is a celebration of artistry and achieving your dreams,” Puck said. “Our art is on the plate for everyone to enjoy.”
If the Governor’s Ball seems like an excessive event in light of the budget crisis in Los Angeles, Jack Kyser of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation said such parties are a huge boon for local business.
“Remember when the Golden Globes were canceled in 2008? Do you know who the most unhappy people were? The service staff at the Beverly Hilton, because they lost so much money in tips,” Kyser said.
This year’s Academy Awards, according to Kyser, will pump an estimated $135 million into the regional economy, up from last year’s figure of $130 million. Why the change?
“Because there are ten Best Picture nominations this year, which hasn’t happened for a very long time,” Kyser said. “That means more people coming to the awards, more ‘For Your Consideration’ ads in local newspapers, more use of limousines, more gift buying… people don’t understand what an economic engine these awards are.”
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