I know you’re in terrible suspense, so I’ll tell you what you’ve all been dying to know right off the top:
Yes. Watching The Shatner read off a teleprompter was every bit the transcendent experience I always knew it would be.
The evening began with me putting on a tuxedo for the first time in my life. I think most guys who put on a tuxedo for the first time get just a little excited thinking, “I’m totally going to look like James Bond.” And it’s true. When I looked in the mirror, I totally looked like Paul Giamatti as James Bond. Which, I’ll admit, is a poor piece of casting, only slightly less disappointing than Daniel Craig as James Bond.
The official Studio B group left from the production offices in two stretch-limo SUVs, thirteen to a car. The disco lighting inside added enormously to the feeling of luxuriant high-class, and for a moment I knew just what it felt like to be a hip-hop producer on my way to an east-coast/west-coast nightclub shooting with all my bitches and hoes in tow.
Of course, if you’re going to travel in a stretch-limo SUV that gets three blocks per gallon and sports lighting effects that make it look like the last Pink Floyd concert, there’s only one appropriate destination to be heading to – a big-ass casino. That’s where they were giving out the Elans, and the venue did not disappoint. To show solidarity with the film community, the place had numerous movie-related props and signed posters on display. Thematically, most of them tied in with the whole casino motif by having movies like…well…Casino in evidence. Oh, and Reindeer Games. You gotta have at least one Santa suit with a gaping shotgun wound from Reindeer Games. But they didn’t limit the movie tie-ins to simply gambling-related productions. The entire spectrum of organized crime was celebrated, so no one, not even the loan sharks or the kneecappers, felt left out.
The Shatner made an early appearance at the pre-party, talking to television reporters about important issues like the 40th anniversary of Star Trek and the fact that he’s been stuck talking about goddamn Star Trek for 40 years now. Being the host, he was dressed for the occasion. The official word from the awards organizers had been, “dress for a black-tie Oscar-calibre event.” Being an awards show for animation and video game production, I had expressed concern that writers and animators and game designers could barely be trusted to not eat with their feet, let alone hose themselves off and dress up for a capital-E Event. Most of them managed it, though. But there were a few notable exceptions, including the first winner of the evening who opted to come dressed as an unemployed lumberjack.
This was the sort of awards ceremony where they seat you at big round tables and serve you a meal while the show is underway. And let me tell you, nothing helps your appetite along like knowing you might have to get up in mid-bite to stand on stage and address seven hundred people, about as many digital cameras, and a couple of videographers taping for TV filler.
I knew the moment of truth had arrived when I saw a clip from my nominated cartoon for the first time. I hadn’t seen any of it yet. The fact that the clip got a laugh from the audience was encouraging. And then the celebrity presenters – either Ginger from Ginger Snaps or Smoking Man from X-Files, I was too out of it to notice which – announced that the winner was…someone other than me.
In the space of one second, two distinct thoughts pass through your head at a moment like that. The first is, “Thank God I don’t have to get up and speak in front of all these people.” The second is, “Fuck! I lost!”
Thankfully, even though all the nominees were Studio B people, I wasn’t seated at the same table as the winner. So I didn’t have to make that “Congratulations” face you see about five thousand times every Oscar night. Which is good because I’m just not as skilled at faking sincerity as, say, Martin Scorsese.
Amidst the celebrity presenters, there was one celebrity recipient. Marv Newland was given the first lifetime achievement Elan. If you don’t know the name, you know his work. He was responsible for the immortal short, Bambi Meets Godzilla, back in 1969. And I’m sure, of every film he’s ever worked on, he’s most sick of talking about that one. The fact that not a frame of it was cut into the career retrospective that played for the audience seems to back me up on this. I’ll bet you a decent sum of money that he made it a condition to his accepting the award.
“Sure I’ll come down, but if you even mention I had anything to do with that fucking film, you’ll be presenting your trophy to an empty chair.”
In the end, we must all end up hating the work we’re best known for. Marv never returned to his seat at our table after making his speech. He was probably backstage with The Shatner, polishing off a bottle, and commiserating about Bambi, Godzilla and Captain Kirk.
The after party capped the evening with more desserts and booze to top off all the other booze and food and booze we’d had so far. It was around 1:00 am by the time we all piled back into our block-long pimpmobiles and drove home. Although I had a splendid time, the evening was officially deemed a non-event by The Shatner Homepage. If you look, you’ll notice Thursday, September 14, 2006 is a big blank space on his official calendar. It’s like it never even happened. Oh well, at least he beamed down to Earth to hang with the little people for a couple of hours.
Pucca was shut out at the 2006 awards, but the P-Team plots to kick ass next year.
Left to right: Your humble blogger, Kirsten Newlands (producer), Greg Sullivan (director), and Dallas Parker (assistant director).