Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stuck in a dungeon at Fil-Am Visionary Awards at the Kodak Theatre

Martin Nievera with his Visionary Award after meeting the members of media at Kodak Theatre's press room. Photo by Jay Fermin ppp-usa

Hollywood: Covering celebrity events tend to lead into some interesting twist and turns. I can still remember covering the 2006 (Donald Trump's) Miss Universe held at The Shrine Auditorium here in Los Angeles with the world-wide media from print and broadcast. Distant recollection of being cornered and restrained by ACCESS HOLLYWOOD still lingers fresh on how 'Show Production' collides and limit other media access to the event and celebrities. ACCESS HOLLYWOOD literary herded the members of media from across the world like, hmmmm, cattle.

The 1st Annual Filipino-American Visionary Awards held Friday, March 7, 2008 at the prestigious (Oscar award venue) Kodak Theatre in Hollywood was like a bad dream from two years ago coming back to haunt the media: No sound feed at the Press Room, thirsty and well starved members of the press (inspite of an in-house exclusive catering by world famous Wolfgang Puck resto?), NO WATER until halftime at the press room, wide screen hi-definition monitor was fabulous except, it was soundless (or was it sound-proof) ....writers were second guessing, we cannot hear the award presenters as well as the awardee acceptance speeches.....

However, security was tight, we were safe and in good hands, thanks to the horde of secret service type Kodak theatre security (no pun intended because some of them are my friends) who kept us locked and secured in what most of the media personnel labeled the 'dungeon'. Read my mind, we cannot escape the press room, which turned into some interesting and playful kind of show of our own down at the lower backstage level press room in between infrequent celebrity interviews.(Not all awardees were able to make it to the press room.)

The only highlight for me was the after-event VIP party; thanks to NuVison CEO Ramil Gonzales and MYGRINGOS.COM Manny Legaspi, I was able to cover the numerous celebrities in depth, including media favorite HAPPYSLIP.COM's Christine Gambito,
Francis Magalona, Tito,Vic and Joey, cast of FEVER, Jasmine Trias, Anna Marie Perez de Tagle (Hannah Montana cast) to name a few.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is, all is not lost. NuVision Worldwide Media (producers of the Filipino-American Visionary Awards) can do better next year. No offense but media coverage and the resulting articles and TV and radio coverage are only as good as what we can compile thru reasonable access to the event and the celebrities.

Regarding event photos I took, it will be uploaded soon. Sorry for the delay but I drove south to the Annual Old Towne Temecula Vintage Car Show coverage today, March 8, and then proceeded to wine country at Temecula Valley to a nice reception at Faulkner Wineries reviewing their best vintage offerings of premium reds and white wine; truly a perfect and beautiful wine review is also in the works.

Below is an excerp from hollywood veteran reporter/photographer Peter Gonzaga's take on the Kodak Theatre event:

"Last night was supposed to be a grand gala event for Filipinos, kind of like the Oscars or the Latin Almas. However, it was a crazy precarious event that didn't bode well for typical red carpet photogs who cover events like movie premieres, Oscar Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and the Golden Globes. As one of my only other Filipino American event photographer persuaded me to clear myself for the Nuvision Worldwide Media's First Inaugural Filipino American Visionary Awards I was hoping for the best. I'm sure that the producers of the event were trying to make this a star studded event that would become a worldclass award show to be respected by the Filipino and Filipino American Community worldwide.

For the negative, the press weren't treated with dignity. From coming to the event at 4pm to being stuck in the press room waiting for awardees and presenters to come back for photo ops and interviews, we were ready to keel over from lack of refreshments and food to keep our minds working overtime to ensure great coverage. Unfortunately, the major awardees that did not come backstage included Filipino rap star Francis Magalona, Tito Vic & Joey, Nia Peeples, Bong Revilla, Rudy Fernandez, Robert Jaworski to name a few.

However we still were given great press opp from Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, of The Black Eyed Peas, Presenter and WWE star Batista, Nora Aunor, Local Los Angeles newscasters Jean Marteriz & Bob De Castro, former Miss America Angela Perez Baraquio, famous Filipino Comedian Nora Aunor, The Basco Brothers. Also gracing the backstage was the lovely Veronica Loren of the Independent film "August Evening."

Speaking to her manager Santiago Douglas, Veronica Loren will be gracing the Philippine Island with her beauty, acting skills and a debut single. Douglas believes that the Philippines should be one of the wonderful stepping stones for Loren's future world domination. I'm sure he sees the vision that Filipinos love their stars and hopefully Loren becomes one that will shine bright in the P.I.

Anyways, being so used to the way Hollywood movie premieres and award shows are handled, to my surprise I couldn't believe not a single PR person was controlling the press room. I felt like I was at some fan convention as the other photographers started posing with the celebrities after finishing their duties in the press room. Imagine wanting to take pictures with celebrities at the Oscars. We'd be thrown out immediately. I guess there is definitely a different mentality in with the Filipino photogs.

Enough of my rant. I'd have to say that with a little fine tuning and including Filipino community groups or a committee to decide who receives awards will definitely give this event the respect it should have. Kudos to NuVision for trying to do an event on a large scale like this. Hopefully, they take after community based organizations like National Council of La Raza and the NAACP's award shows to give awards to true talent and individuals in the community no matter if they are Filipino or not, who shows their strength in helping empower and broadening the cultural importance of Filipinos in the U.S. and the world.

Until next year, we hope that egos are put aside to find the common goal of showing the positives of Filipinos no matter if they are in entertainment."

By Jay Fermin ppp-usa
Excerp by Peter Gonzaga (Nielsen News)