LOS ANGELES On February 18, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gathered a thick crowd of international journalists to reveal the look and menu for its splashy annual Governors Ball, which will take place at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland following the 88th Oscar ceremony on February 28. Academy governor Jeffrey Kurland, producer Cheryl Cecchetto, and chef Wolfgang Puck once again make up the core team responsible for the party.
This year the 1,500 invited guests of the ball—including winners and nominees, presenters, and other A-listers—will find a blush-colored setting inspired by artworks. The concept was influenced by the caricature-filled walls of the iconic Sardi’s and Brown Derby restaurants and will feature more than 170 specially commissioned drawings showcasing filmmaking legends of the present day—many who appear in this year’s nominated films—and all the way back to 1929. The black and white drawings will be displayed gallery style against a color palette of dusty rose with copper accents.
“The theme of this year’s Governors Ball is art: the art of making film, and the individuals who create the art,” Kurland says. “You will see drawings created by contemporary illustrators that are reminiscent of Hirschfeld’s wonderful portraits. They truly capture the energy and sheer joy of the evening’s celebration.” Costume designer Kurland is also designing the attire of the evening’s staff.
Working with Kurland is longtime partner Cecchetto and the Sequoia Productions team; it’s the company’s 27th consecutive year in the role. Cecchetto calls this year’s look a “streamlined” approach, “in keeping with the Academy’s style guide.” She says the blush palette has a “monotone, very sexy feel to it. And then pow: here comes our caricatures [that pop against it], like a museum.”
She adds that the look is “very on-brand for the Academy. The establishment is crazy fabulous—you have to parallel their intention, mission statement, direction.”
Puck’s menu will include more than 50 dishes, from one-bite hors d’oeuvres to small-plate passed entrées. Examples include sriracha-candied macadamia nuts; braised short rib with cauliflower puree and golden raisin puffed Thai rice; white grape almond gazpacho; rye berry risotto with peas and asparagus; and poke, stone crab, made-to-order sushi, and other raw bar items served atop illuminated ice blocks. As is tradition, several of the menu items will take the form of Oscar statuettes, such as smoked-salmon-shaped Oscars, plus a chocolate dessert bar featuring 24-karat-gold chocolate Oscars.
Mark Held of Mark’s Garden will also return as the floral vendor for the awards, creating highly stylized flower sculptures using white blooms. Thousands of flowers will be specially flown in from Holland, South America, and Mexico at the last minute for freshness; Held will use 10,000 blooms for the arrangements, including calla lilies, gardenias, ranunculus, phalaenopsis orchids, and succulents.
Also at the preview was Marc Friedland, creative director of Marc Friedland Couture Communications, who is once again designing the envelopes and announcement cards bearing the names of the winners. (He began creating the specially designed paper for the Oscars in 2011.) Friedland’s custom-designed envelope is handcrafted from a high-gloss, iridescent metallic paper, treated in gold, and complemented by a red-lacquered lining featuring the statuette hand-stamped in satin gold leaf.
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