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A Manly Awards Party for Men's Journal

April 13, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Men's Journal's Heroes awardsMilk Studios Wednesday, 04.11.01, 7 PM to 11 PM
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Men's Journal held a fairly macho awards party at Milk Studios, a vast photo studio on the West Side. The publication's Heroes awards were presented to a group of men--including celebrities, athletes, health researchers and a firefighter--for a range of actions deemed heroic by the mag's editors.

Organized by Swell Productions, a young event management firm that works primarily with magazines, the event was split among the venue's various rooms: One studio housed photographers shooting the odd assortment of attending celebrities (Deborah Gibson, Richard Hatch, Jason Priestley) in front of a logoed backdrop. In another, guests looked through items in a silent auction that benefited four nonprofits.

One studio held an area with loungey seating, and another held two bars (by sponsor Johnnie Walker) and a small stage used for the awards presentation. Meanwhile, caterwaiters from Tentation circulated with hors d'oeuvres, and the bars included bowls of potato chips as well as matzo for Jews observing Passover--a smart, considerate touch.

For the decor, Avi Adler made lots of large arrangements of branches and grasses--nothing too flowery for this manly event. The few small flower arrangements were placed in containers made of bamboo. Lux Lighting bathed the space in orange-tinted light.

When it was time to present the awards, the magazine's publisher, David Kupiec, and its editor, Sid Evans, both greeted the crowd from the stage, and then Tom Brokaw served double-duty as one of the evening's honorees and as the event's funny, warm M.C. Brokaw presented short introductions of the 10 other honorees, who included Richard Gere and Bono (who didn't show up to accept their awards), and the Minnesota Vikings' Daunte Culpepper, the Philadelphia Eagles' Donovan McNabb and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (all of whom did show). Jann Wenner, the chairman of Wenner Media, the magazine's owner, appeared to accept Bono's award.

The introductions and speeches were all very gracious and sincere, so it seems a bit nitpicky to complain--but we will. This portion of the evening went on for about an hour, which is a pretty long time for guests to stand and pay attention. Yes, the awards presentation was arguably the point of the evening, but the party was organized like a cocktail party. After guests had enjoyed more than an hour of the Johnnie Walker bar and music from DJ Mark Ronson, the awards probably felt a bit too serious to plop in the middle of an otherwise jolly cocktail party.

That isn't to say that most of the crowd didn't stand and watch the proceedings--they did--but the crowd seemed to thin out after the awards presentation finished, leaving a less-than-full dance floor for Ronson's tunes.

We also caught staffers asking some attendees in other rooms to be quiet during the presentation. Then one of the hushed guests complained that he felt like they were being treated like schoolchildren. The lesson for planners: Boys will be boys.

--Chad Kaydo

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