Sunday, January 7, 2007

Palm Springs Film Fest Awards Gala

This evening I attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, held at the PS Convention Center. The black tie affair was a major star-studded event attended by many Hollywood celebrities, dignitaries, and the Palm Springs Elite. There were limos as far as the eye could see, with mobs of onlookers, throngs of press and papparazzi and reporters along the red carpet. Entertainment Tonight was on the red carpet interviewing celebrities as they made their way into the Awards Gala.

The gala event had over 1,800 guests for cocktails, dinner and the awards show. Among some of the celebrities I saw were: Sissy Spacek, Kate Winslett, Valerie Harper, Connie Stevens, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Cate Blanchett, JoBeth Williams, Alan Arkin, Syndey Pollack, Brad Pitt, Adam Beach, Sienna Miller, Kaye Ballard and Mary Hart.

Oh-My-God, Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt Oh-My-God...
Oh-My-God, Brad Pitt...

Oh-My-God, here's Brad Pitt... and Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight...

Oh-My-God, Brad Pitt...
Cate Blanchett...

Adam Beach...

Jessica Biel...

Kate Winslett (not a great photo, but she looked great)

Our Congresswoman, Mary Bono (R) Palm Springs

The after hours party was held at the Parker Palm Springs

Here's me with friend Jason

...and "the 3 J's" Jason, Jaclyn & Jim

It was a fun evening. The goodie bag gift was from Tiffany & Co, the title sponsor.
- Rick Rockhill
Here is an article from The Desert Sun:
Big names, big night for Palm Springs Film Festival
The Desert Sun
January 6, 2007
This one was big.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival’s signature event, Saturday night’s black tie awards gala, was so big, the Palm Springs Convention Center had to open an extra ballroom to accommodate the record 1,800 people. Most of them paid $300 to walk down a red carpet with more major stars than the desert has seen since Elvis, Sinatra, Hope and Crosby lived in the community.
Big stars like honorees Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Sydney Pollack and Brad Pitt were there.Film composer and Oingo Boingo leader Danny Elfman called Philip Glass “the only composer who I consider a major influence who isn’t dead.” Even the presenters were big stars, including Morgan Freeman, who made a surprise appearance to introduce director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Chairman Emeritus Harold Matzner called it “a big win for the city.”The city of Palm Springs is the major sponsor of what it calls its flagship tourism event, an event that not only fills hotels, but hair salons, formal attire stores, dry cleaners and limousines.
Fans praised the event, even those who were among the dozens who left after Pitt appeared on stage. Laura Cannon of Indio called it “amazing getting to see everybody.”But this gala will be remembered as an ensemble event, one in which Pitt just happened to be a memorable cast member.
As emcee Mary Hart of “Entertainment Tonight” noted, this was the first time the festival presented two ensemble awards.Writer/actor/director Jon Favreau, of “Elf” and “Swingers” fame, presented the new Chairman’s Vanguard Award for a film made on a limited budget to an ensemble from “Little Miss Sunshine” that included actor Alan Arkin and child star Abigail Breslin. Arkin called making the family comedy, “a completely loving, joyous experience from beginning to end.”
Almost an hour later, Pitt, Blanchett, Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza accepted the Ensemble Performance Award for the international cast of “Babel.”Pitt, attending without his high-profile companion, Angelina Jolie, jumped in first and joked about how the title “Babel” is mispronounced around the world. But he said he was proud of the international cast, “which just tells me I’m grossly overpaid.”
Kikuchi was celebrating her birthday and that prompted the best line of the night from her“Babel” colleague, Blanchett.“I don’t speak Spanish or Japanese,” said the Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actress from “The Aviator.” I barely speak English. ... In honor of Rinko’s extraordinary performance, I’m not wearing any underwear.” That last part was a reference those who have seen the movie would understand.
With more than 300 media people attending, the gala gave an Oscar push to three films likely to earn Best Picture nominations. “Babel” also benefited from the resumption of a presentation of the Director of the Year Award, given to Mexican filmmaker Iñárritu.“Little Children,” another strong ensemble film under the direction of writer Todd Field, benefited from a Sonny Bono Visionary Award to Field and another Career Achievement Award to his box office draw, Winslet.
Congresswoman Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs, who has played a behind-the-scenes role in the development of the festival since its beginning, introduced actress Sissy Spacek to present the Visionary Award to Field.Field then presented Winslet’s award, calling her an “immensely talented actor.”Winslet said the award was “overwhelming and I’m incredibly honored.” Then she read letters she wrote when she was 11 and more recently, after she had turned 31. The theme of both was she always wanted to be an actress.
The evening presented its first awards before Chairman Earl Greenburg even introduced Hart, a long-time friend who has a home in Palm Desert. Sienna Miller served the first Rising Star Award to Adam Beach, of “Flags of Our Fathers” fame, to go with the first course of salad.Miller presented the second Rising Star Award to Jessica Biel, who played against type in “The Illusionist,” as the salad plates were being removed.
The final award of the night, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation Patron of the Arts Award, went to Pollack. Laurence Fishburne called him “a Renaissance man,” in his presentation and the humble Pollack was a little embarrassed at receiving what he called a “virtue award.”But Pollack might have to endure the adulation one more day.
The SAG Foundation will honor Pollack again today in a private reception.The gala, which was a money-loser when a telecommunications company ran it as a corporate networking event in the 1990s, grossed an estimated $900,000, or $200,000 more than the record it set in 2006. The attendance was double than of just four years ago, when Lynn Redgrave and Stephen Frears were the top honorees.

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