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The SAG Awards got a bit of a makeover on Sunday night, moving to a new address from its longtime home at the Shrine Auditorium and a new platform with streaming partner Netflix. The latter meant that there were plenty of cameras in the room, but The Hollywood Reporter happened to catch some of the behind-the-scenes action that didn’t make the telecast.
Fire Marshal Surveys Scene, Causes A-List Traffic Jam
The 2023 SAG Awards posted up for the first time in Century City inside the Fairmont Century Plaza, a hotel that has become a go-to host this awards season thanks to its supersized and recently renovated ballroom. If you happened to be in the building Sunday night and thought you caught the scent of Tom Cruise, it’s entirely possible as the Top Gun: Maverick star was here just hours ago for the PGA Awards where he accepted the David O. Selznick Achievement Awards. It’s a shame Cruise couldn’t stick around because event organizers surely could have used his expert navigating skills to help direct traffic. When THR turned up on the scene at 3:45 p.m., there was a long line clogging the lobby and it was filled with A-list stars and nominated actors. According to whispers, the fire marshal was on the scene instructing staff to hold the line and limit arrivals. Among those waiting were Jason Bateman and wife Amanda Anka with Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara (whose Women Talking co-star Claire Foy turned up and cut the line to join her alongside Garfield), and Austin Butler. The Elvis star, with several security guards in tow, was escorted to a side hallway to wait out the crush that lasted upwards of 10 minutes upon which time ticketed guests took the escalator down one floor only to wait another five to 10 minutes. Nominee (and eventual winner) Ke Huy Quan made the most of the delay, receiving congratulations and granting requests for selfies.
SAG-AFTRA Foundation Reveal: We’re Building a Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists
SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance had the tough task of trying to quiet attendees with less than 20 minutes to go before showtime. “I’m not going to start until you sit down,” said the veteran actor, who resorted to shushing hundreds of guests as they made their way to their seats. He had good reason to command the room’s attention: Vance broke major news that the organization will soon break ground on the Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists. The 15,000-square-foot facility will be located at SAG’s mid-city L.A. headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. Per Vance from the podium, it will be “a world-class” venue that will be home to the union’s programs and services all under one roof. Set to open next year, it will include voiceover and on-camera recording studios, tech labs, instructional classrooms and more. With a name like the Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists, it also means that it has the blessing of the living legend. “Meryl Streep is a leader in our industry like few others. When she heard about our plans, she was proud to allow us to honor her in this way.”
Brendan Fraser and Sheryl Lee Ralph Commit to Buying Seats in Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson Screening Room
The Meryl Streep Center for Performing Artists will also feature what Vance called a “crown jewel” — the Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Screening Room. The “immersive and intimate” theater will be a “veritable hive of creative activity” and Vance praised the pair for their key support of the foundation as they, along with Streep, made it so the foundation “never missed a beat” when members needed them most. Vance then offered the room the chance to purchase one of the theater’s 100 seats. For $100,000, a bidder can get their name on a seat for lifetime, $10,000 for 10 years, $7,500 for five years or $5,000 for three years. The Whale star Brendan Fraser wasted no time in jumping up to commit to purchasing one, while Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph also raised her hand to get one.
Vaccine Mandate Protest Draws Several Dozen
As black SUVs descended on the Fairmont Century Plaza by the hundreds, even tinted windows couldn’t obscure the view of a gaggle of protestors gathered on the four corners of the Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard intersection. There were several dozen of them and the purpose of the demonstration was to voice resistance to vaccine mandates on set. “Medical segregation is immoral,” read one sign while another said, “Medical freedom is a human right.” According to a press release issued Friday, the showing was organized by a group known as SAG-AFTRA Members Against Vax Mandates, a collaboration that is demanding “equal rights to work for all union members without discrimination for vax status.” As THR passed by one of the corners, one protestor explained the resistance effort by saying they are against “jabs for jobs.” During the telecast, SAG president Fran Drescher noted how the U.S. will soon declare an end for the COVID-19 emergency in May, at which time she said, “I hope we will see everyone return to work in equal opportunity.”
Spider-Men on the Scene
It was a big night for Sally Field, honored with a lifetime achievement award and humbled by a genuinely touching tribute from her Spider-Man co-star Andrew Garfield. But he wasn’t the only Peter Parker in the building. Tobey Maguire, nominated as part of the best ensemble cast from Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, watched as Garfield gushed about his Aunt May.
Damien Chazelle Gives Standing Ovation to Babylon Star
Speaking of Chazelle, he was the among the first to stand to give an absent Jean Smart a standing ovation for her win as best actress in a comedy for her work on Hacks. Smart, who stars as fictional film critic Elinor St. John in Chazelle’s film, could not make Sunday night’s ceremony as she is said to be recovering from a recent heart procedure.
Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone Curated SAG Awards Menu
Ever wonder what the stars eat at a major Hollywood awards show? The 2023 SAG Awards featured a menu created by celebrity chef Curtis Stone and his Curtis Stone Events and prepared by the Fairmont Century Plaza staff. It featured chicken and tarragon surrounded by a roasted winter vegetable salad of squash, baby carrots, pomegranate rutabaga, brown butter purée, ancient grains and fermented garlic sauce. To wash it all down, Cooper’s Hawk Artist’s Red and White Blend wine, Purely Sedona still and sparkling water, Lallier champagne and Campari cocktails (that were delivered on trays by friendly servers during the commercial breaks).
Burgers 99 Makes Brief Cameo
Not everyone elected to eat the plate of food artfully arranged in a circle. Paul Walter Hauser, recognized for his work opposite Taron Egerton in Black Bird, munched on a cheeseburger when the camera cut to him during the nominee presentation for his category. The bit (and bite) was prepared in advance as THR spotted a tuxedo-clad man carrying a cardboard box filled with bags of burgers from La Brea Avenue hotspot Burgers 99. He was hot on Hauser’s trail and was seen following him from the lobby all the way into the ballroom.
Post-SAG Awards Hugs for All
After the Everything Everywhere All at Once cast closed the show with an epic acceptance speech, not all stars rushed for the exits. Some rushed to catch up with fellow actors by offering congrats or taking a hug for the road. As the credits rolled, Cara Delevingne ran over to The Woman King nominee Viola Davis for a warm embrace. Andrew Garfield made a beeline to Brendan Gleeson and Paul Mescal, who were catching up not far from Colin Farrell. Outside the ballroom doors, Quinta Brunson caught up with The Bear star Ayo Edebiri and made sure to capture the moment by posing in the Instagram-ready backdrop created by Campari.
Abbott Elementary Cast Cuts a Rug at Afterparty While Taron Egerton Hugs Jason Bateman
People hosted the official afterparty in the lobby and the surrounding spaces. It was the mag’s 25th year hosting the soiree, which was produced by prolific events producer Tony Schubert and featured beats by celebrity DJ Michelle Pesce, sips by Campari, gift bags by MZ Wallace, a portrait studio presented by People, Shutterstock and Netflix, and an engraving station by City National Bank. The spinmaster, fresh from deejaying the official Grammys afterparty, livened up the crowd with some old-school pop, hip-hop and R&B hits. At one point, more than a few members of SAG Award-winning cast of Abbott Elementary were showing off their moves in the center of the party while Ralph searched for a place to give her feet a rest. Over her shoulder, Cara Delevingne cut a rug dancing to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Nominee Evan Peters rolled through the party solo until he caught up with fellow nominee Anthony Carrigan and the two chatted for several minutes. Bateman, holding his trophy for best actor in a drama series for the final season of Ozark, was receiving congratulations from a journalist when Taron Egerton asked to cut in so he could throw some love Bateman’s way.
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