Jaci Stephen: 'Once, I'd have carried out contract killings to get into an awards ceremony'

Way Out West
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The Independent Online

How upset can a locker be? What on earth do you say to a locker to produce such an effect? You need a paint job"? "You smell of stale sneakers"? I mean, come on: even if upsetting filing cabinets were your number one aim in life, would you want to go and see a movie about it?

These were just some of the questions I asked to pass the time through Sunday's coverage of The Golden Globe Awards.

Having established that The Hurt Locker was not about a sensitive piece of storage furniture, I lay on the sofa and gave thanks that I wasn't at the actual event, a stone's throw from my apartment.

There was a time when I would have carried out contract killings just to get into an awards ceremony. Back in my early days of journalism, I even managed to crash a few, one night taking a place on the South Pacific table at the Laurence Olivier Awards, oblivious to the fact that people had purchased tickets in advance for members of the company.

If the legitimate guests on the table were shocked or horrified, they were too polite to say so, and by the end of the night I was singing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" like an old pro.

Sunday's Golden Globes, which celebrate achievements in both film and television, were taking place at the Beverly Hills Hilton. I can see the hotel from my apartment, where, for the big event, a plastic tent had been erected on the roof for the NBC/Universal post-show party.

The hotel was closed to the public for the weekend, and when once I would have taken wire cutters to the fence I know can quite easily get me to the pool area, I was happy to stay at home and watch the event on television.

Awards ceremonies US style are very different from those in the UK, not least because by the time you have cleared security to get in, you probably would have died of old age.

To get into the Globes, journalists had to apply back in November, and the list of requirements and credentials was so long, I could have founded a newspaper and seen it go under in the time it took me to read the rules, let alone get round to acting upon them. Getting into the White House is easier – as people have discovered.

There was, nevertheless, an air of excitement that permeated the city, irrespective of whether one was attending the event. The Regent Beverly Wilshire, a short distance from the Hilton, and The Peninsula, which is even closer, were packed with celebrity spotters who looked to the door every time a new person entered (and, in my case, looked disappointedly away again).

After I watched the event on TV, I hung out at the Peninsula where, if you happen to have a miner's lamp in your handbag, you might be able to make out a few faces in what has to be LA's darkest bar.

Everyone who was no one was there. A university lecturer, a very drunk Estonian woman, whose head looked in immediate danger of separating itself from her body, and an even drunker man who introduced himself with the question: "D'you mess around?"

He also said that he was waiting for a call confirming that Quentin Tarantino was hosting a party nearby. It was now getting close to two in the morning, an hour when, for me, messing around always takes second place to tuning in to yet another interminable CSI marathon on the telly; but heck, this was Quentin – who knows, he could direct my movie – and if I had to kiss a boozed-up guy in a penguin suit just to get to Quentin, what the hell.

In the event, I didn't even have to debate the issue. The man received a call to say that there was no party, news that instantly turned me into the Mother Teresa of the night, telling the bloke where to get off. Inglourious Basterd as he was.

Meanwhile, the lecturer was telling the Estonian how interesting she was, while the management were trying to throw her out for losing touch with gravity. "Is she with you?" they asked me.

I was horror struck. "No!" I squealed, disgusted.

Even more horrifying, I remembered that that used to be me. But if there is one thing that LA has taught me, it's that sitting at your desk, doing the work you care about, really is more enjoyable than falling about in bars, stalking celebs.

When I saw my final bill from the Peninsula, I realised that it's cheaper, too.

To read Jaci Stephen's blog in full, go to: LANotSoConfidential.blogspot.com