By Rosalba Curiel Posted January 9, 2008, 5:11 PM EST
In what may reveal itself to be an award-show season rarity this year, celebrities actually turned out to present and receive honors at Monday night’s Critics' Choice awards. George Clooney, Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie were among the A-listers at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for the 13th annual ceremony, which proceeded as planned despite the ongoing writers strike, due to the fact that the show is not covered by Writers Guild of America contracts.
Picketing writers may not have been present, but their plight—and its far-reaching effects on Hollywood—were nonetheless on the minds of show presenters and attendees. Clooney voiced his hope that “all of the players involved will lock themselves in a room and not come out until they finish.” Steve Zahn quipped that he’d prefer to have the critics rather than the writers on strike. And a sarcastic tribute to the industry's departed included a nod to the Golden Globes ceremony.
At a time when many award shows and the events surrounding them share an undecided (or decidedly grim) fate, the Critics' Choice awards moved forward with its largest after-party to date, doubling its guest list to 600, from 300 last year. Following the show, guests flowed into a 5,000-square-foot tent adjacent to the auditorium, where professional Latin ballroom dancers rumbaed, mamboed, and left traces of their fancy footwork on an impressionable plasma dance floor in the center of the tent.
The president of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Joey Berlin, hired UPP Entertainment Marketing's Robert Rossi, who came up with the evening’s red-hot ballroom theme and created it with the help of the Event Pros’ Lori Birdsong. Red lighting permeated tent walls, while LED chandeliers alternated between crimson and tangerine shades. Other colorful decor touches included bars illuminated in light orange shades and cocktail tables topped with vases decorated with a leopard-print-like design.
Guests lounged on white ottomans and vinyl tufted banquettes, which helped break up the scarlet color palette, and were free to grab from plentiful supplies of Red Hots candies before heading home.