Magazine article The New Yorker

EATING LIKE A NOMINEE Series: 2/4

Magazine article The New Yorker

EATING LIKE A NOMINEE Series: 2/4

Article excerpt

It is fashionable to lament the increasing number of awards ceremonies in the entertainment business, but the lament is mean and unjust. Records show that, in the past two months alone, there have been entire weekday evenings on which Julianne Moore had to stay home. But, if the prospect of temporary prizelessness is bleak for our leading actors, imagine how galling it must be for ordinary Americans, who have surely earned the right to switch on their televisions, at any given hour of the day, and find fresh, irrefutable proof that it is possible to have an emotional collapse in a strapless ballgown.

Thank heavens, then, for the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, tucked neatly between the swelling cheeks of the Golden Globes and Oscar Night. The ninth such gathering took place on Sunday, March 9th, at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, which is where devout Angelenos go to have their shrines exposed. Pedants may quibble with the acronym bestowed upon this glittering event--there are cries more enticing, perhaps, than "Hey, let's all go to the sags!"--but most of us, scanning the list of presenters for this year, will think ourselves accursed we were not there. How else could we hope to rub shoulders with the dream that is Donnie Wahlberg?

The brutal answer is: we couldn't. But, thanks to a new electronic taster, we were able to share some of the magic that was coming Donnie's way. Six days beforehand, an e-mail blitz delivered the details of the sag festivities. The awards art director, Michael Venedicto, would be adorning the eighty-four dining tables with "custom pyramids," requiring, in total, nine hundred pounds of crushed black glass. To be honest, this sounded dangerous, and the consequences for world peace of spilling crushed glass on the chair of Pierce Brosnan, say, shortly before he took his seat, don't bear thinking about. Even before he found his table, 007 would have to claw his way through the entrance to the Shrine, draped for the occasion with "seven hundred yards of camel fabric."

If anybody can get hold of that much camel on a Sunday afternoon, it has to be Gary Arabia, the chef bestriding this year's party, who is plainly laying the groundwork for a public campaign to have the missing "of" reinserted in the middle of his name. Gary promised his guests a sensuous meal, explaining, "Light and subtle nuances help to complete this singular visceral plate. …

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