Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prepping for a big weekend

Greetings from the left coast where Los Angeles and the film community here prepares for the 84th annual pat-ourselves-on-the-back festival known as the Academy Awards. Let's throw it around, shall we?

- Hotel rates for premium lodging in this town are doubling come tomorrow, given the influx of visitors for the Oscars. As an example, the Miramar Fairmont, in Santa Monica, is bumping its nightly room rate from $350 up to $700 plus.

- Under this year's balloting rules, Academy members will rank all nine Best Picture nominees. The combined score will then determine the winner, meaning that a film needs to be near the top of many ballots to be named Best Picture.

- Is it just me or does anyone else find it sick that Chris Brown and Rihanna are collaborating on two tracks? Their collaboration comes three years after he assaulted her. I understand Rihanna's desire to be provocative but domestic violence is a huge issue in this country. As for Chris Brown, it's a crime that he's been given the air time of late. Both singers have, in the past, asked the public to allow them space--to move beyond their public unsettled relationship. Yet, here they are flaunting the domestic abuse incident for commercial reasons. It's wrong and very, very sad.

- The Sonic guys are back! After a hiatus of a few years, a social media campaign has brought the two back with TV spots airing over the next few weeks. The pre-launch campaign began on February 9 with a concept that Peter Grosz and T.J. Jagodowski, the two spokesmen, wanted to get their jobs back with Sonic. The campaign included direct elements--a Twitter feed, YouTube channel and Facebook page, plus a website where visitors could view commercials made by the pair in an attempt to convince Sonic to take them back. The campaign was created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

- Who appear to be the Oscar favorites in the primary categories? Best Picture: The Artist; Best Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants; Best Actress: Viola Davis, The Help; Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners; Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help; and Best Director: Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist.

- Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) has signed on as executive producer for a new comedy, on FX, about a rising rock band seeking therapy in order to keep the group from breaking up. The show will star comedian Dana Gould.

- What will all of the stars and industry folk chow down on at the Governors Ball on Sunday night? The appetizer and small bites menu, served up by master chef Wolfgang Puck, will include Chinois lamb with cilantro-mint vinaigrette, beet tortellini with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts, spicy tuna tartare in sesame miso cones with masago, and Fuji apple salad with crumbled blue cheese, arugula, shaved red onion and apple cider vinaigrette.

- And, finally, guitar hero Carlos Santana is taking up a two-year residency at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. Beginning May 2, Santana will do 80 nights a year at the club with a show he's titled "Greatest Hits Live: Santana--Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."

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