Monday, June 2, 2008

2008 MTV Movie Awards Denies Free Access to Bleachers

Girls pose in front of sign to Universal Studios
As much as everyone enjoyed yesterday's MTV Movie Awards, I'm going on the record with a big fat "Bleh." Not because of the show itself but because of the people who ran it.

Should have known it was a bad omen when I couldn't rouse the girls at 8:00 a.m. We were supposed to cruise Malibu, drive back to The Hollywood Walk of Fame, maybe catch the Kodak Theater, then make our way to the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City for the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. Ambitious, certainly, but potentially doable. All we wanted were spots in the bleachers, you know, to ogle arriving celebrities. Then we would make our way back to Beverly Woods. A nice last day to cap off a memorable trip to el Lay.

Missed going to Malibu because the girls decided to sleep in
Instead, we wound up skipping Malibu. I gave the girls a choice, sleep in or Malibu. They chose sleep. Having a wild and crazy Saturday night and traipsing in at 6:00 a.m. can do that to a person, you know, clouding one's judgment. At least they couldn't blame me for the change in plans.

But then, life started to become very weird. Of all days to deal with the catastrophic, Universal Studios caught fire. A big back lot explosion -- there's still fire engines parked out there. Channel 2 news staked out the entrance all day.

So, you can imagine what our hosts and friends tried to do when we told them about our plans. Warn us away. Do not try to attend this award show, it will be a traffic disaster. Regretfully, I would not be deterred. Let's face it, an opportunity like this might never happen again.

We parked the rental at Highland and Hollywood, putting The Walk of Fame and whatnot on hold until mission accomplished in Universal City, a dubious conquest at best. Our trek on the redline continued a bad streak of luck. We got off at the wrong stop, not because of stupidity, but because my friend advised to ride to the end. Wrong. The girls admonished me for sticking to that plan. Clearly, the stop before was the one for Universal City. How did they know? It was the name of the stop.

The stop on the redline for Universal Studios is Universal City
Beautiful mosaics fill the correct train station

One of the few bright spots of the day was a very talented man with a guitar and a crooked smile who serenaded the platform as we waited for the next train. First time in twenty years I've dropped so much as a nickle into a guitar case. The guy wanted more, but all I had were five and ten dollar bills. I'm a pretty good tipper, but not that good. Saved by the approaching train, I told him he should play in a club and quickly disappeared.

Guitar player in subway redline of Los Angeles, California
Guitar player sings well, gets tips

Guitar player in subway redline of Los Angeles, California
Subway patrons enjoy underground guitar player

When we finally reached the outside of Universal Studios, so many people were lined up for a shuttle, I convinced the girls to walk to the top. Blunder numero whatever (I lost track), the hill was extremely steep. We journeyed at a snail's pace just to keep breathing, then finally reached the summit, but at a price. Our dignity. Sweating like pigs, I know I must have looked like crap. Can't speak for the girls, but they probably felt that way too. Let's just say I was overly under dressed. We only wanted to sit in the bleachers. What difference did it make if I looked like a bag lady?

I felt a smidgen of relief seeing the great steel Universal Studios ball, twirling on its axis, marking the entrance to the park. Tons of people milling about, waiting to get inside. Unfortunately, the fire had shut the place down. No one would be admitted to the rides. You should have heard the collective groans.
Universal Studios theme park in California has big steel ball twirling
Universal Studios Theme Park is deserted due to explosive fire in California

Was the Gibson Amphitheater, site of the MTV Movie Awards, still accessible? A policeman told us it was, but couldn't say for certain if they were still accepting tickets. Tickets? You needed tickets to sit in bleachers and cheer celebrities as they walked by?

Apparently so. We sped down the City Walk and there they were, more frantic looking people angling for a coveted spot inside the show. Women totally dressed to the nines. The girls and I stuck out like sore thumbs. Even though the girls had dressed fairly tastefully, they were nowhere near as fancy as the crowd hoping to get "cast" for filler seats (yes, they actually called it being cast, if you can imagine having to play a part just to fill an empty chair).

Hundreds of well heeled people line up for access to the MTV Movie Awards
We arrived in line for the show at approximately 1:30 p.m. At that point, they admitted maybe another twenty people. Then, they closed the gate and forced everyone who hadn't wangled a space inside to move out of the area. Harsh.

I couldn't even smooth talk a spot for my fairly decent looking girls. Scott, the guy in charge, would have none of it. Just trying to do my job, he whined. Yeah right, stick a sock in it, Scott. You should've let the girls into the show. I would've found my own way inside.

The theater wasn't accessible from the opposite entrance either. Not one to be shy, I asked the incredibly brutal female guard about possible admittance to the bleachers without a ticket. My bag lady motif must've raised a red flag because she took special care to emphasize the ticket requirement (forget about getting to the bleachers-- just to walk on the grounds required a ticket according to nasty), tickets that could not be bought at the box office or scalped. She also took it upon herself to alert all the gate guards about the ticket requirement, lest I try something sneaky like walking in empty handed.

"Let's go," my daughter complained. That girl throws in a the towel way too easily.

After all that time and effort, I would find a way in or die trying. They'd have to forcibly remove me from the premises to make me give in. "This way," I said, directing them back to where we started. They must have thought I was completely nuts, but I was leading the charge. They had no choice but to follow.

Then I saw my opening. An unguarded gate in between the other two dead ends. It must lead to the Gibson Amphitheater. I motioned the girls and told them to follow my lead. Look confident, like we belong, but walk separately. We'll be less easy to spot if we're not in a group. Don't hesitate. Don't ask any questions.

We easily slipped by whoever was in charge of that gate. Maybe no one was in charge. Now all we had to do was join the crowd inside and we were home free.

Easier said than done. My daughter became highly uncomfortable. She was certain we would get kicked out, leaving her to die of embarrassment. It still amazes me how she can get so embarrassed around people she doesn't know. I suppose one is either born with that kind of inner strength, or it comes with age. It certainly can't be taught. I told her to say we were coming back from the bathroom if someone stopped us, then took my place with the crowd.

You can probably guess what happened next. The girls hesitated, looking around for reassurance. The guards stopped them. When they couldn't produce wrist bands, they were kicked out. I, on the other hand, ingratiated myself to a bunch of beautiful and impeccably dressed fine young women who took pity upon me, shielding me from the unrelentingly evil guards. One actually made our group line up single file, then separated people with black wrist bands from our line. The group ahead of us didn't have to line up single file or separate into two wrist band groups. Maybe I was just paranoid, but I think they might have been trying to ferret me out.

My guardian angel ladies told me to stick with them. Then, they intimidated the hell out of the killjoy guard, calling her all kinds of names and getting catty. "Let us in, beeyotch, we've been standing here long enough," one screamed over her shoulder. Before the cat calls reached a fever pitch, the male guards waved us through.

Relief. Kind of.

I did not fit in with this crowd. At one point, some nervy girl excused herself, then proceeded to tell me "she thought" I was in the wrong line. What a bubble brain. "I'm with them," I answered, pointing to my guardian angels. When no one said any more, the bubble brain piped down.

Honestly, I wanted to go to the bleachers. But I couldn't ask a guard to put me there without giving away my dirty little secret. I was stuck with the well heeled and well dressed headed inside. Torn between the chance of a lifetime and the girls, I chose the show. I wish I hadn't. Oh, the girls told me it was fine, their friends would pick them up and they'd go do something else. I should have realized then that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the show. Really, it would be no fun unless they came with, but too excited about the opportunity to think like an adult, I forged ahead.

Yes, I had a good seat. An excellent free seat where I could do more than make out the shadows of celebrities. I could actually see their faces, read the teleprompter, and enjoy the show from the stage instead of monitors. But, there was little joy in Mudville.

The last series of guards made me toss my camera batteries. All I could get were cell phone shots. Big whoop.
2008 MTV Movie Awards
Not the very front, but still a decent seat at The MTV Movie Awards

Truth is any minute, I figured the guards would snatch that away too.

Then, I lost my guardian angels. They were moved to seats in the front. I was happy for them, those beautiful angels deserved to mingle with celebrities. But I missed their cover. I couldn't take a chance with new people, so I kept to myself.

And then there was big cheese man, Scott. He must have spotted me in the crowd, despite my best efforts to blend. The twerp stationed a guard in my aisle (there were no guards in any other aisles -- believe me -- I checked) who made sure to glance my way every now and then just in case. In case what, I don't know. I suppose he felt the need to intimidate, but I wasn't feeling his need.

Oh yes, I did overhear too full of himself Scott mention to another guard about having a seat for one the minute I got up. As if. Sweetheart, I would have gone into bladder arrest rather than abandon that seat. At one point, I did get pretty thirsty, but stayed simply out of spite.

And still, the aisle guard maintained a watchful eye.

When the show ended, there was some outdoor party requiring yet another admission pass. I stood by a door to the outside protected by the first nice guard of the evening. Even though the door was shut tight, at least ten people must have asked if they could exit that way. The answer was always no until finally, some other guard threw open the floodgates. Then the yellow-shirted guards started to clear house. "Remove yourselves from the lobby."

Oh brother, here we go again.

Honestly, I don't think any of the guards knew what they were doing. Other than being obnoxiously rude and evil, they served no real purpose in life. The nice guard was a marine from Utah. At least he had a heart. I must have stood by the glass door for about twenty minutes while the theater emptied. Saw absolutely no one worth mentioning except Christian Siriano.

Figures, it was a guy from Baltimore.

Oh, and Paris Hilton holding onto Benji Madden for dear life. She wore some black and white number. Her hair looked very cute.

MTV Movie Awards after party was invite only

I snapped this shot of the invite only party from a peon exit, a place manned by a guard dressed in black. All around were finely dressed women who could not sweet talk an invite to the celebrity after-digs. I felt sorry for them. Hey, if I had been dressed better, I probably could have talked someone into letting me tag along. Anyway, I asked the black suited guard if it was okay to snap some pictures. The guy had no qualms whatsoever.

Wouldn't you know, the minute I was done, some snippy looking yellow-shirted guard made a point to drop by. Starts telling everyone to move along and clear out. Can you believe that? I have never been so harassed in my entire life, not even when protesting in front of Washington, D.C. park police.

Guards were mean to people who didn't have tickets to the MTV Movie Awards after party
Well dressed women told to clear out and move along

Just to prove my point, look what I found standing around on my way to the exit by way of the City Walk. Right around the dancing fountain. You would have thought someone was trying to steal state secrets. The park was pretty much empty. What were they expecting? A riot?

Uniformed police were called to guard the City Walk exiting Universal Studios
Uniformed police are called to guard the City Walk on the way out of Universal Studios

All I wanted was a spot in the bleachers.