Red Carpet Experience

At the Us Empowered gala on May 2010, three friends and I donated nearly $10K to the charity for a red carpet experience at the 2010 American Music Awards in Los Angeles on November 21st. My friends, Jeff Pieta, Ricardo Kawamura, and Peter Ianello, knew it would be an epic weekend….and it was:

We arrived Thursday night on 11/18/10, stayed at the Beverly Hills Hilton, and had a sushi dinner at Katsuya. Then, we stopped by the courtyard at the W Hotel for drinks and ended the night at MyStudio. We ended up with of the Black Eyed Peas and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore at our table.

Friday afternoon we stopped by a live taping of the Tonight Show. We barely arrived at the NBC studios on time, but we still had to wait in the “Green Room,” a staging area for friends since we were Ricky Minor’s guests. The green room wasn’t green. We were also informed that Ricky would meet us after the taping for an after show tour.

We had great seats (no cameras allowed). The set held about 500 people. There were several acts “to warm the audicience up” that lasted 30 minutes; these included an up-and-coming comedian who managed the show’s website, a comedian/musician who threw out T-shirts, a few jokes and personal introduction of Jay Leno, and a song by Ricky Minor and his band. I was impressed with the seamless and quick transition of the acts as well as the lighting and music of the studio and the high levels of security between the acts.

The “live audience show” was taped at 3:30 PST and goes on air a few hours later in the east coast. Like clockwork, Jay kicked off the show with an introduction. Later on, we learned that Jay has 8 writers for his opening monologue. The guests tonight were country music star Garth Brooks and Mike “the Situation.” Garth is a family man from Oklahoma; he is performing Live in Las Vegas and his wife just wrote a cookbook. “The Situation” was quite a character and was promoting his fitness video and his new book. 

After the show, Ricky Minor gave us a great tour, and we had a chance to take some photos. It amazes me that 150 people work full-time on the show. Jay is in his 18th year and produced over 3500 shows.

Friday night included a steak dinner at BOA steakhouse followed by a late night at Drai’s nightclub. We partied with 10 of Peter’s college buddies and had the VIP table next to Ne-Yo.

Saturday was a chill day that included a two hour hike; Pieta and I had a good conversation about how to be more productive at work. Saturday night dinner was at Nobu in Malibu; the food was excellent but our chauffeur driver never showed up, so we took a $100 taxi ride back to the hotel. We took a limo to most places since we were drinking, but we did rent a white SUV for $29/day. I was almost coerced into renting a $150/day Black Escalade. After a long drive back, we stopped by Voyeur for drinks and called it an early night since Sunday was the big event.

Sunday was spent browsing stores on Rodeo drive. I made a point to check out the Made to Measure departments at Armani and Zegna stores. Small change of plans as Ricardo got a couple extra tickets (row 2) and invited a girl, so I also invited a friend last minute to enjoy the AMA experience. We scrambled a bit to get ready for the event (6 people and 2 bathrooms) and arrived 15 minutes before the show started. 

The Red Carpet was a bit chaotic. It was shaped in a U. VIP ticket holders can walk in with the celebs. A-list Celebs had a different path with mainstream cameras (big networks and entertainment media). Then, the paths combined with the VIP ticket holders…which means us. The whole experience was quick and a little exhausting. Cameras were clicking everywhere. There wasn’t a clear path to the entrance. Security guards were ushering celebrities around us. These guards knew how to protect the musicians while moving out of the way for a camera to take a photo.

We finally made it to our seats, row 14 center right section, and had great views of the stages. It was interesting to see the project management required at this event which included 14 live musical acts and many awards over three hours. There were many “fillers” that sat in empty seats when people would grab a snack or use the bathroom. The place had to look “packed” for TV. Most of the musicians were in the first ten rows in the center section but rotated for the cameras and for live performances. The actual performances were impressive as they included the musician, band, dancers, backup singers, choreography, lights, videos, and props. There were two stages (left and right), so the next act could get ready while one act was performing. Some of the performances included Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Santana, and Pink. We stopped by the official after-party but didn’t make it to any unofficial after parties.

The whole weekend was amazing. I’m glad I had a chance to experience the red carpet with some good friends and make a positive contribution to Us Empowered.

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