LOS ANGELES On Grammy weekend, you can bet many potential guests had a stack of invitations from which to choose. And the notorious sprawl synonymous with Los Angeles only made it less likely that would-be attendees could make stops at all of those events. So how did hosts pull crowds? Here are some of their strategies.
A Gorgeous Venue
The restaurant at the spectacular Getty Center set the scene for Montblanc's pre-Grammy party on Thursday night, a rare opportunity for guests to make it up the hill after the museum's closing time (and to drive up, instead of ascending by tram). The program included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and performances by cartoonishly cute kid pianist Marc Yu and the new chairman of the Foundation D'Enterprise Montblanc de la Culture, Grammy-nominated pianist Lang Lang. (Alas, come Grammy night, he would not take the prize.)
Location, Location, Location
Jewelry line Nicole Khristine took over the new restaurant Citrus at Social Hollywood on Thursday to give 52 guests the first taste of chef Michel Richard's short ribs and mini lobster burgers. The event gave that intimate group a peek at the space, which wouldn't open until the following night. (Another perk of the location: When the launch ballooned into a bigger party after dinner, it benefited from ease of access for folks who had also R.S.V.P.'ed for the debut of In Style and the Recording Academy's “Salute to Fashion” show and concert at Boulevard3 next door.) DJ AM, Grandmaster Flash, and Macy Gray joined together to perform a turntable symphony.
Free Stuff With Perks
Some naïfs might think the free stuff is the perk. But these days, swag-suite organizers are forced to do more to differentiate their lounges from one another (although the Grammys are not known for the proliferation of swag that, say, the Oscars bring to town). The Recording Academy’s officially sanctioned suite, now in its fifth year, took over Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood for four days of giveaways and pampering treatments, taking care to throw a few cool details into the free-stuff mix. Hard Rock International lent costumes—including Madonna’s memorable coned corset—which dotted the space, and a grand piano sat on the studio floor for anyone who felt moved to sit down and play. (We hear the spirit did move a few guests, but we didn’t witness it during our Thursday stop.) The Mondrian’s Skybar set up and staffed a central bar, and Couch Nobelius produced. Meanwhile, another suite downtown attempted to draw guests by appealing to their sense of environmental responsibility and philanthropy: The Green With Music suite had an eco-friendly bent, and benefited Katrina-relief effort Make It Right 9.
MusiCares's 16th annual Person of the Year tribute drew 2,500 guests, including recording-industry executives and artists, who flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday night for the chance to hear John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, Patti Austin, Fantasia Barrino, and other artists’ take on honoree Aretha Franklin’s classics. They also heard a performance by the Queen of Soul herself, who sang “Chain of Fools” and treated attendees to “A Woman Falling Out of Love,” a song off her upcoming album of the same name. Guests dined on braised beef short ribs, collard greens, and key lime pie—a menu in keeping with the singer’s Southern roots—following a cocktail reception and auction that helped raise a record-breaking $4.5 million for the musician-support org MusiCares.
Verizon Wireless and People magazine opted out of direct competition with other Friday-night biggies by opening the doors to the Avalon Hollywood at 10 p.m. for an evening honoring producer Timbaland. Guests (including Fergie, Paris Hilton, and Ludacris) walked leopard-print carpets leading into the venue dotted with throw pillows and lampshades in the animal print, and snacked on tenderloin satay as well as sweets like tiramisu and cheesecake, while Paramore, One Republic, Chris Cornell, and others took to the stage. Guests who stuck around until the party’s end at 2 a.m. got to see surprise performer Missy Elliott both on- and off-stage—the hip-hop artist made her way to the middle of the crowd at one point—and hear Timbaland’s not-so-kind closing remarks, which were peppered with choice expletives aimed at Verizon and People for apparently making his “homeboy” wait in line earlier in the evening.
Maybe it was a celebratory feeling that brought guests to Sony BMG’s after-party at the Beverly Hills Hotel last night. (The group had a few notable wins.) Or maybe it was the star wattage—Grammy performers Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, and Aretha Franklin were all in the house, where Clive Davis also roamed. But it might have been the cupcakes that were the talk of the ballroom (seriously). Crumbs erected a giant shrine to its product, a multitiered serving tray under cover of a canopy bearing the bakery’s name. Cupcake-captivated guests ogled the wide variety of offerings, and noshed nearby. They were also welcome to carry out the sweets as takeaways in plastic containers.