Jewish Journal

Green rooms & glamour at the Grammys

by Danielle Berrin

February 17, 2008 | 10:34 am

Aaron Kemp proves once again that he’s got the best connections in town. Here’s his “insider” perspective, in words and photos, of the 2008 Grammys. From schmoozing in a skybox to hobnobbing backstage and cavorting at the after-party, Mr. Kemp brings it all to life with self-mocking wit and delicious detail:

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s 50th Anniversary Telecast of the Grammys. Perched high atop the LA Staples center in a luxury skybox, we gazed down from leather seats on a musical spectacle that was equal parts ceremony and show-stopping musical circus. True, you are somewhat removed from the action in a skybox, but what you lose in immediacy you more than make up for in amenities.

The glass-encased suite is filled with such an outrageous buffet of catered gourmet delicacies, it would make King Solomon blush, if only it were Kosher. Three rows of plush seats greet you at the front, flanked by a kitchenette and bar. Towards the rear, lush couches face a private flatscreen projecting all the action from the main stage. I sit next to Douglas Adams, the man who designed the show’s special effects and am so in awe of the production by the second number, I shake the man’s hand as vigorously as if he were a rockstar himself.

Backstage, the air is tense, but I’m not nervous. After all, I do have an “all access” pass. It is then that I learn the real truth. There are two backstages. More accurately, there are two “Green Rooms.” One actually called “The Green Room” (where non-celebrities go) and the real one, kept so secret and hidden from mortal men that neither the words “Green” nor “Room” appear in its title.

Looking far more important than I actually am, I am summoned towards this secret celebrity sanctuary by the cordial doorman. However, it’s so well hidden I neither see it, nor pick up on the invitation. Realizing my error, I momentarily return to find an aggressive, cleavage-baring woman blocking my entry with her clipboard. She points down the hall and says tactfully, yet forcefully, “Sir, the GREEN room is over there!” (translation: hit the road you non-celebrity!)

As a joke, I briefly consider telling her “Wait…I’m the Aaron of the Aaron’s Tent Newsletter!” but am certain I will burst out laughing and she will probably hit me with her clipboard.

I console myself in the other Green Room with Stuie Wax (founder of “The Happy Minyan”) and Eytan G. (“The Jewish Rapper”). “Hey,” I tell them, “This is where the Jewish Community Celebrities get to hang…” We giggle and make toasts with bottled water. Sir George Martin, world famous Beatles producer stumbles inside. Someone from his entourage whispers in his ear and he instantly retreats. (If I had to venture a guess it was probably “non-celebrities!”)

Afterwards, thousands swell through the entryway of the LA Convention center for a lavish after-party. Cirque Du Soleil Troop members, their skin painted white, dance all around us in various costumes. Some perform with fire on raised platforms, others dressed in tunics, freeze completely as living statutes.

Various elaborate backdrops and props from other times and places surround us on all sides: scattered trellises and pillars from ancient Rome, a gigantic wall painted to resemble the Paris Opera House. And of course, catering by the “Rockstar” of the culinary world himself…Wolfgang Puck.

If this weren’t enough, there is a giant stage with live music throughout the evening. The first act was a Jessica Simpson-like performer named Natasha Bedingfield, followed by headliner Cyndi Lauper (who at one point actually climbed on top of her amplifiers and writhed on her back like a snake).

As I walk through the crowd, supermodel Naomi Campbell makes extended eye contact with me—it seems an invitation to approach. However, she throws phones in anger and isn’t Jewish, so I look down and keep walking. I reconsider, but have a feeling that if I return the “woman with the clipboard” will materialize and block my path.

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Written by Danielle Berrin and Dikla Kadosh

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