Moving the Gotham Awards from Manhattan's Chelsea Piers out to the historic old Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard turned out to be a disaster last night. Getting there was bad enough. It took my Envelope colleague and pal Paul Sheehan and I more than an hour via car service from Manhattan's upper west side. Once we arrived, more disasters, one after another, followed.
First off, we journalists were all told firmly to be there by 5 p.m. Why? So we could stand out front in the lobby like homeless bums or reprimanded children for more than a hour before the PR reps bothered to begin checking us in? Why did they subject us to that?
Once we got to the red carpet, a very intense, hawk-faced, short PR gal took to removing the horizontal 8" x 10" sheets of paper that marked each media org's spot and she pushed the sheets closer and closer till they overlapped. At that point not even an Olsen twin could squeeze into the space allotted for each media outlet. When I protested to one of the PR reps, he threw up his hands and said, "We have too many media outlets for the space. What are we supposed to do?"
I suggested that he might try not overbooking the limited space in order to cram in more and more "journalists" from obscure websites not even related to awards — those websites were just there to slobber over celebs; none of them covered the actual awards show — or else increase the space for journos. His response was an impatient roll of the eyes.
The Gothams' rival awards group, the Independent Spirits, not only has a press room, it has huge press TENTS — several of them all joined together and sprawling along Santa Monica beach — to accommodate Q&A's, photos and one-on-ones with the stars, just like at all other big, grown-up award shows. The Gotham Awards don't even have a press room. Dave Karger from Entertainment Weekly and I were given a small area backstage to chat with winners, but, meantime, there was no way to follow what was happening on stage. At other award shows, including the Spirits, there are TV monitors back in the press room to keep journos posted.
About 10 minutes before the show ended, a big, kind-hearted, bouncer whispered to me in confidence: "You know, all hell's gonna break loose any second when all of these people go outside and find only 4 taxis."
Paul and I quickly wrapped up our cameras, computer, etc., and dashed out front to get one of those taxis. By then, there were only two left. I had called a few car services earlier in the evening, but they all said that their vehicles were already at Steiner Studios where the awards show took place. Really? Where? Paul and I didn't see any available cars beyond the one that came to our rescue just before the deluge of gala attendees let out behind us. As we got inside the car, the parking valet was in a state of panic, crying into his cell phone: "I don't got no cars here, you know! I keep asking for cars! Where are they?"
There is no subway service to that remote, desolate section of Brooklyn down near the river — a spot where dead bodies famously wash ashore. Just a stray bus that'll take you to a subway, if you know where to find it. Lots of people, it turns out, couldn't.
Last night's Gotham kudofest was a fiasco of disorganization. And presentation. In retrospect, I'm thrilled that I couldn't follow much of the show backstage. I caught the rambling, unfunny, amateurish opening schtick of "comic" host Sarah Jones and that was enough — so bad that it led off the night just right.