Spirit Awards moves to L.A. Live

Spent more than a decade on a beach in Santa Monica

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The Spirit Awards are taking things downtown.

After more than a decade under a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, the annual Film Independent show will move to a tent atop a building at L.A. Live, AEG's downtown Los Angeles' events complex.

The indie kudos will move to the space, described as a "panoramic event deck," in the same year that it switches from its traditional Saturday afternoon slot to a Friday night one. But the change in both fate and venue, organizers say, will not affect the feel of the event, which will continue to retain an informality that will allow attendees to mingle before and after the show.

The Spirits are also bringing on Dick Clark Prods. to exec produce the event, the first time it has brought on such a high-profile awards-show producer. Diana Zahn-Storey previously exec produced the show.

Dick Clark is behind the Golden Globes and several other broadcast kudofests. Indie producer Jamie McGurk will also exec produce this year's ceremony.

The initial move off the beach in Santa Monica, announced several months ago, prompted some in the industry to ask why one of the most popular events of Oscar weekend was tweaking a formula that so many liked.

Film independent topper Dawn Hudson acknowledged that there were financial considerations behind the move. "Obviously it's harder to put on an event in a place where you have to build up as opposed to a place where it's already set up," she said, comparing the ad hoc Santa Monica venue to the L.A. Live one.

But she said that was not the main impetus for the switch. "The change is meant to signal a different way to celebrate and do something that is in keeping with the spirit and is funky and fun and casual," she said, citing this year as the Spirit's 25th anniversary.

The Spirits will air live on IFC on Friday, March 5 at 8 p.m. PT. Despite the implications for the east coast of an 11 p.m. start, Film Independent hopes that the cachet of being "the first late-night awards show" will bring in viewers. "Late-night is primetime on IFC," she said.

Hudson also said she had little concern that the new time would create a conflict for attendees who had other events on the Friday night of Oscar weekend. "This is a very devoted community and this is an event that people are a part of because of because of the passion for the community. We can hold it any night and I think people are gong to come."

The show is planning a number of retrospective activities in connection with the 25th anniversary. But Hudson said that there would be limits to how much sentiment would infuse the irreverent show. "We're not going to get too nostalgic. It's still the Spirits."