This story first appeared in the Oct. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Hollywood is known for glamour and illusion, nowhere more so than on a red carpet. Celebrities spend a lot of time, money and effort to look their very best for the world to see. Reporters work diligently to talk to them and get the best story. Publicists hustle to make sure their clients are seen. The red carpet is the hub of all things fabulous.
Unless, of course, it's really hot.
If you've never worked a red carpet when the temperature tops 80 degrees, you won't know what I'm talking about. But every Hollywood photographer, producer, cameraperson, reporter, publicist, celebrity and top executive knows precisely the kind of special torture reserved for all of us on a scorching red carpet just trying to do our jobs. And we do it all in black formalwear when many of us haven't eaten much. Not exactly conducive to comfort.
This year's Creative Arts Emmys was held midday Sept. 15 in 100-plus-degree weather. The red-carpet commotion at the Primetime Emmys on Sept. 23 took place in 90-degree heat. An EMT I spoke with said at least 14 people had to be treated for heat exhaustion or dehydration. That's not OK.
I understand that making arrangements for all of us who work these carpets might be more expensive. But what about safety and even a little humanity? Wouldn't it be worth it to have some water readily available? Shaded areas? Fans? Cooling stations? Producers of these shows will tell you they make those efforts, but I can't tell you how many times my colleagues and I have been hunting to find one small bottle of water. Or a shady area to wait for our clients. Or a chair. And for the reporters and photographers -- forget it. They're clumped together like sweaty animals for hours upon hours in the searing heat as stars rush inside to cool down, negating the whole purpose of having a red carpet.
So I say, just tent the carpet. Light it, pipe in some air conditioning, make all of us that have to be there want to be there again. Although it might cost a little more, it would return the red carpet to the fun, glamorous party it's supposed to be! The only hotness on the carpet should be our smoking-hot clients.
Lee Wallman is a veteran publicist whose clients include Emmy nominees Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives).