Only In LA: Glitzy party for $500: beware cheap imitations

WHO WOULD want to take a holiday in Los Angeles? Answer: almost nobody. Ah, but who would give their eye teeth to go to a celebrity awards show, including the party afterwards? Answer: zillions of people.

That, at any rate, was the thinking that inspired the LA tourist authorities when they made their unorthodox offer to the public last weekend. Come to the unlovely City of Angels, they said, and we'll give you two nights in a downtown hotel, an invitation to the Emmy TV awards and the post- Emmy party, and a couple of tickets for the Dodgers versus Mets baseball game - all for $500 (about pounds 300).

It was a ground-breaking idea, not least because awards ceremonies have traditionally been considered off-limits to the great unwashed. And here was Tinseltown glitz at its finest - several hours in the Shrine Auditorium with the likes of Helen Hunt, John Lithgow, and Calista Flockhart of Ally McBeal fame.

But was it enough to divert weekend tourists from San Francisco, or the Yosemite National Park? The answer, it seems, was "yes and no". About 60 per cent of the 1,000 tickets were taken up - not a fiasco, but hardly a stampede. Arguably the biggest problem was that the kind of people who have $500 to spare would not want to go to an awards ceremony, unless they were on the official guest list in the first place. For the less affluent, another kind of logic was operating. Who'd want to shell out that kind of money for an event that's broadcast live on TV?

THE LOW-BUDGET cult horror flick The Blair Witch Project isn't just spawning imitations (though plenty of film crews are venturing into the woods with 8mm cameras to try to replicate its spooky sense of fear and foreboding). The box-office surprise of the summer is now inspiring parodists. Doing the rounds of studio offices is The Blair Princess Project, a video short concocted by Paula Goldberg, a young film executive. Instead of a film crew coming a cropper while tracking down the tale of a Maryland witch, The Blair Princess Project tells of three spoilt Jewish babes who get lost in Malibu while trying to find their friend Blair's wedding. The video footage they take, full of whining and screeching, is all that is ever found of them.

Parodies, it turns out, are quite the thing among a select group of Hollywood insiders. Last year, a video called Saving Ryan's Privates made its way to Steven Spielberg's office. It details the gruesome attempts to save the genitals of a soldier wounded on D-Day. More recently, there has been George Lucas in Love, a delightful mixture of Star Wars lore and the Bardolatry of Shakespeare in Love.

These parodies are more than just insider jokes; they can be the first step on a bona fide directing career. Sandy Bookstaver, who spent three years working as Jeffrey Katzenberg's personal assistant at DreamWorks, made a half-hour spoof called Scriptfellas, detailing in mock Martin Scorsese fashion the grim rise of a young production assistant who loses his soul to become a sleazy development executive. The execs at DreamWorks liked it enough to offer Bookstaver a TV directing job. Jeffrey Katzenberg may have lost an assistant but he has, as they say, gained a protege.

ELSEWHERE AT DreamWorks, Sam Mendes' film debut American Beauty, a darkly comic examination of a suburban marriage, starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening (pictured together), has received rave notices ahead of its opening later this week. It is DreamWorks' biggest critical success since Saving Private Ryan and a much-needed morale-booster after a flaccid year.

The more superstitious company executives will be hoping the actors and director don't fall foul of "the DreamWorks curse". High-profile participants in the company's productions have been dying off at an alarming rate. Oliver Reed died earlier this year on the set of a DreamWorks picture, Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott. The actor David Strickland, found dead in a Las Vegas motel a couple of months ago, was in the Ben Affleck/ Sandra Bullock vehicle Forces of Nature. Two comedians used for voice- overs, Phil Hartman and Chris Farley, are also no more, as are the director of photography on The Peacemaker, DreamWorks' first release, and the lead singer of Morphine, which recorded on the DreamWorks record label.

There have been seven deaths - not quite one per film, but close. Whoever could be next?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?