February 19th, 2010
February 19th, 2010
In follow-up to yesterday’s guest post from the 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Bell, California, Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazo provides a more detailed and personal account of his “Day in the Life” of a Hollywood Reporter (Army Style, of course).
“I want your loving and I want your revenge.”
That’s what I woke up to on Feb. 15. Lady Gaga was singing at full volume, the result of my alarm radio going off and my poor choice in radio stations the night before.
It was 7 a.m. and I needed to get ready. After silencing Gaga, I immediately began my daily ritual of bathing, shaving, brushing (teeth – hair isn’t long enough for that), and dressing. This ritual typically takes anywhere from eight to 45 minutes. This day, a respectable 30 minutes was all I needed.
With my Army Combat Uniform on (and no visible strings hanging anywhere on them), I grabbed my ACU backpack (filled with my equipment) and jumped into my car. After a quick stop at the Army Reserve Center in Bell (to pick up the other 302nd Soldier, Sgt. Jennifer Sierra), I was on my way to Beverly Hills.
After 30 or so minutes of driving – with moderate traffic (a first for LA) – I found her.
The Beverly Hilton Hotel.
A must-hit locale for tourists hoping to see their favorite celebrities.
She was living up to those expectations today, because for the 29th year in a row, the hotel was hosting the Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon. Not that the endless line of news vans gave it away or anything.
Parking was scarce, almost Jonas-Brothers-at-a-Junior-High scarce, but I was able to find a parking spot at the top level of the parking structure. From there, Sgt. Sierra and I took the elevator down to the main lobby. As soon as we arrived, we noticed the long line of media (cameras gave it away) and our military training immediately took effect – we moved to the end of the line and stood at parade rest.
An hour later – after the waiting, checking-in, ID checks, metal detectors and bag checks – we were shown our respectable areas. Sgt. Sierra was shown to the interview room and I was shown the technical / broadcast room.
The event was set up into three parts for media; the arrival area – where photographers and videographers would be able to capture the nominees’ arrival, the interview room – where the nominees would answer questions from reporters, and the tech room – where technicians could record all the interviews for their respectable news agencies. The plan was for every nominee to walk in, smile at the cameras, turn to the right, pass the tech room, and straight into the interview room. Once done with questions, the nominee would exit the room the same way they entered, andhead straight into the grand ballroom for the actual luncheon.
I was fortunate enough to find a spot at the first table (right next to the double doors leading to the interview room) and began to set up my equipment. After some assistance from the local video specialist (to ensure all my connections were set up correctly), I looked at the schedule provided at the check-in desk. The first thing I noticed was that not all the nominees were expected to arrive. Then the second thing I noticed was the first thing on the menu for the luncheon – gorgonzola salad. Both of these things made my stomach ache.
Fortunately for me, I was not going to eat at the actual luncheon.
I decided to look around for the Academy point of contact provided to my unit, a woman by the name of Danielle, to check in with her and ask what time the nominees where expected to arrive.
I foundDanielle, or better said she foundme, by the arrival area. She informed me that the nominees were expected around 11 a.m. or so. Feeling a bit better (still thinking about that gorgonzola made me nauseous); I made my way back to my seat at the first broadcast table.
Now for the best part of this event – the sightings.
I was sitting down, making small talk with techs from ABC and Canal+ (European television station), when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted someone familiar. Very familiar.
She seemed to materialize out of nowhere, like an angel almost (cheesy, I know), and had a regal look as she made her way to the interview room. Now most celebrities I’ve seen through the years never look the same in person as they do on film. Sandra Bullock it seems is the exception.
She looked exactly like she does on film or on television, and stood much taller than I anticipated. She waved at everyone in the tech room, before making her way into the interview room.
Her interview was ongoing when, who do I see? Woody Harrelson. As in, nominee for Best Supporting Actor for “The Messenger” Woody Harrelson, a role in which he plays an Army officer who provides next of kin notifications for fallen soldiers.
Then came Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for Best Director and Best Picture for “The Hurt Locker.” O-M-G.
That’s what ran through my mind as I laid eyes on her. She was very tall, not too tall, but tall, and carried a very stately look as she made her way into the interview room. Not the type of woman one would imagine in the Jordanian desert shooting a film many consider one of the best military-themed films in recent years.
Just a couple of minutes after Bigelow, Jeremy Renner, nominated for Best Actor for “The Hurt Locker,” made his way into the interview room. But before entering, he came over to my area and shook my hand, thanking me for my service. I responded that it was a pleasure to meet him. In retrospect, I wish I was able to tell him how much I enjoyed his Oscar-nominated performance.
His performance was one of the main reasons my unit was covering this event. “The Hurt Locker” along with “The Messenger” are the latest in a string of military-themed movies made by Hollywood.
These films have provided the public very different perspectives on military life. From the day-to-day life of combat troops overseas to military members dealing with their responsibilities here in the U.S. And although many will point out the obvious differences between the movie world and the real world, increased interaction between all branches of the military and Hollywood filmmakers will allow these two worlds to come closer together.
And covering events like these allows us, the military, to capture the recognition these films have received. Yes, this does mean I’m a bit biased in my reporting here at this event, but in all fairness, if we don’t cover the military aspect of these awards, who will?