LOS ANGELES—That former President Bill Clinton would be coming to the Golden Globe Awards to present best picture — drama nominee “Lincoln” had been known to a few people involved in the show several days before the big night last January 13.
That it stayed a secret until Clinton walked up the stage at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom made his appearance such a welcome surprise, greeted by Hollywood’s film and TV community with a standing ovation.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which votes on and presents the Golden Globe Awards, picks the show’s presenters. But when it comes to who will introduce the film clips of the best picture nominees, the HFPA usually lets the studios select the personalities.
In the case of “Lincoln,” it helped that its director and studio backer, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg, respectively, are pals with “Hillary Clinton’s husband”—as cohost Amy Poehler humorously described the former Prez after his spiel.
Clinton did not sit in the ballroom studded with stars like George Clooney, Jodie Foster and Hugh Jackman. Instead, he was in and out of the ballroom after presenting “Lincoln.”
The surprise appearance of “Bill Rodham Clinton,” as cohost Tina Fey called him, was organized like clockwork. We heard that Clinton flew into Los Angeles just as Tina and Amy were cracking their well-received opening jokes. He arrived backstage at the ballroom just in time to introduce the film about America’s most beloved president.
Clinton’s appearance explained why the security was tighter than usual at the Hilton last Sunday. Secret Service agents arrived at the hotel a few days earlier.
The LA Times put more significance in Clinton’s presenter role. In their story on the ex-President’s Globes stint, Mark Olsen, Nicole Sperling and Chris Lee wrote, “Before the clip package shown for each of the drama nominees during the night, Clinton introduced ‘Steven Spielberg’s extraordinary ‘Lincoln.’ Clinton may have been speaking at the Globes, but he was perhaps hoping to be heard by Oscar voters, who will soon be casting their votes for Academy Awards.”
The evening’s other highlight, Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech as this year’s Cecil B. DeMille honoree, was even more riveting to hear in person at the ballroom.
Many of the A-listers dabbed their eyes as Jodie delivered her brilliant, spontaneous speech.
Betsy Sharkey, also of the LA Times, summed it best: “I will take Jodie Foster’s six minutes and 40 seconds of unfiltered passion, confusion, confession and love, so much love, over anything else anyone in Hollywood has said in a very, very long time.”
Now it can be told—the original plan was for Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey to cohost the show but that did not pan out (he reportedly declined). That’s when the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler combination was suggested. The idea was immediately met with excitement. The duo lived up to expectations and more.
Earlier, navigating the red carpet resplendent with the actresses’ gowns with long trains was hazardous. Taylor Swift had no less than two bodyguards trailing her to ensure that no one stepped on the train of her sexy Donna Karan gown.
Hugh Jackman, ever the nice guy, seemed intent to talk to each and every reporter on the red carpet and gallantly introduced his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness.
The lady publicist with the actor occasionally patted him on the arm to politely ask him to move on. Hugh would have chatted with all the reporters lined up but time was not on his side.
The “Les Mis” star had to sprint toward the ballroom where he eventually won best actor—comedy or musical honors, his first Golden Globe trophy.
The first after-party we hit, Universal Pictures’ tented bash on the Hilton parking structure’s rooftop, was auspicious. Just as we entered with Grammy winning singer Patti Austin, who was one of our guests, the deejay was coincidentally playing her hit, “Razzamatazz.”
“I like it when I enter a room and they’re playing my song,” Patti said, beaming. She walked to the deejay and graciously thanked her.
As we hopped to the other parties hosted by Warner Bros./InStyle and Weinstein, many guests just had to stop and compliment Bessie Badilla, former model turned-indie film producer and singer, and my wife Janet on their gowns by Oliver Tolentino, who simply smiled when he heard the praises. He also dressed our colleague, former Miss Universe Margaret Gardiner.
The rest of our group included IBC-13 executive Lito Ocampo Cruz, Mr. Brazil UK Guto Montanari, LA-based accounting firm exec Susan Legaspi and Oliver’s business manager, Andrew Caruthers.
There was such a lot of dancing and joking around that, by the time we walked to the next parties by HBO and Fox, they were over. What to do? We went up to the hotel room of one of our guests and there, despite feeling tired after a long day, chatted till the wee hours.
We discovered—and appreciated—that Patti is engrossing not only as a singer but as a raconteur as well. Her stories and observations about life and people, which she dished in that lovely voice, were like mini-concerts, minus the music.