Monday, March 14, 2011

I survived my first helicopter convention.....

Wow a week later and I am still trying to recover from Heli-Expo in Orlando, FL.  Not because (as you might be thinking since I was traveling with Mark) of late nights and too many exhibitors' parties, but because there was just SO MUCH to learn and take in.  My head is still spinning…and I am still marveling at the magnitude of the convention and the aircraft that sat center stage and stole the show.

To the Heli-Expo, Mark and I were guests of the Dubai 2012 Heli Show.  Julia Cuthbert (co-owner) and Ahmad Abulhoul (organizer from Dubai) rolled out the red carpet for us and made us feel so at home. We also got to know Lumi Hilchey, from the Dubai Government Tourism Office, who also shared the booth with us. A big thank you to all of them for all their hospitality and support! I eventually want to visit Dubai and see for myself what is it that has inspired Mark to keep going back...

By day on Sunday and Monday, Mark and I pounded the pavement, meeting and greeting as many people in the industry as we could.  Again I spent the majority of that time trying to wrap my head around everything….debriefing, debriefing, debriefing seemed to be all I was asking for from Mark.  One thing that was not a surprise to me though was how respected and known Mark was throughout the helicopter community.  EVERYONE seemed to know him, and have a funny story to share of some kind of adventure.  It was great unique moment at one point to be sought out by Elena and Sergei Sikorsky; as his Dad- invented the helicopter...and Sergei always gets one of Mark's other "community based calendars..."

By night we dined with our Dubai team, and continued to laugh harder than we all had in a very long time.  We all met up and dined at the Peabody hotel on Sunday.  In case you are not familiar with the Peabody (which most of us were not) they are famous for a “troop of ducks” that entertain guests in the lobby fountain from the hours of 11:00am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week. After their “shift”, the ducks “parade” themselves with an escort in a red jacket - up to their $100,000 plus palace located on the hotel’s observation deck. After visiting their “castle” we were all a bit dumbfounded on what exactly cost $100, 000 as it was not much more than a 6x6 pond, but who are we to judge and it provided us with quite a chuckle.  Back at the restaurant after our tour, Mark was again puzzled as to why there was no “duck” dish on the menu. We all had to muzzle him from inquiring with our waiter.  Only Mark!!

After the conclusion of the conference on Tuesday…Mark made his way back to YYC and on Thursday headed to Edmonton to shoot some VIP (very important patient) portraits for Alberta STARS. More details in upcoming posts as to how that adventure turns out.  As always Mark is a busy guy that does not seem to stay put for more than a couple of days.  This activity puts him in yet another state or country (and weather conditions) over the past 4 weekends. At least now I think he does indeed have his wallet…or at least I hope he does.  Let’s just say I have not gotten a call to bail him out yet and like I said I am still trying to recover from last week’s festivities; so that is good!

Until next time…

Our Dubai Team (minus Mark) at the booth. 
Lumi, Ahmad, Julia, & Charli
Mark snapped a shot of myself with Sergei & Elena Sikorsky. 
What an honor!
This is it?  A $100,000 Duck Palace!
Dubai Team (again minus Mark) posing in the Duck Palace.
The Famous Parade of Ducks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Packing my bags....

Well as we speak I am packing my bags to meet Mark tomorrow morning in sunny Orlando, FL or MCO, for the 2011 Heli-Expo at the Orange County Convention Center.  As his publicist I will be meeting all of Mark’s treasured colleagues & friends, networking and probably making sure Mark does not over sleep!  Looking forward to meeting everyone and getting the lay of the land.  Many more details (and stories I am sure….) to come Tuesday when I return.

Until Next Time…….


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the Oscar goes to......

So after an action packed, whirlwind weekend of amazing events and fanfare, our celebrity photographer extraordinaire Mark Mennie says “when the Academy says NO PHOTOS! They mean NO PHOTOS!”  Despite the tight security though, Mark was in the thick of the action…starting on Thursday morning and captured amazing moment after amazing moment.

Thursday, Mark and his buddy Steve Gregory for Clearchannel (You can hear him on KFI AM640 in LA) headed down to Hollywood to pick up their press badges (and sign away their first born) for the event.  They then headed over to the red carpet to sneak a peek at Wolfgang Puck’s Food Review for the Governor’s Ball (which is a famous dinner that takes place on Sunday after the awards). They were only allowed to nibble a few crumbs of the tasty fare and see how the tables would be set up, so Steve and Mark had to grab lunch on the way home...but they would get a second chance...

Saturday was filled with more excitement for Mark, as he headed down after the afternoon rains to capture some inside photos of the set up.  He was able to get around the hordes of tourists and "inside the fence" with his accreditation to get a closer look at all the technical crews feverishly laying equipment and plastic wrap to protect everything from the elements and outsiders with cameras.

SaturDAY quickly became SaturNIGHT and here is where the details seem to get a little hazy.  Steve and his guest "Mark" were formally invited to attend the Governor’s Ball Preview Party.  After a few "Silver Screen Punch(s)" (which was a mixture of pink Grapefruit and exotic liquors and then topped off with a drizzle of Moet and Chandon Champagne-the recipe is on their website...) and much more to eat than the teeny samples of Thursday morning- everyone in attendance was invited to take in the “saturday night rehearsal”.  All who entered unfortunately had to check their cameras and cells phones before entering the Kodak Theatre - again the Academy is very protective of their image, art direction and cameo appearances of their show- or any hint of winners. That being said Steve and Mark watched for about an hour as Anne Hathaway and James Franco ran through their lines, while stand-in actors took the places of Hollywood’s royalty. The catch phrase of the evening seemed to be “and the winner is-for this rehearsal only...”.  After this wrapped up, the two headed home for some crucial r & r before the BIG EVENT!

Oscar Sunday finally arrived and Mark and Steve headed down early to set up cables and placement in the interview room and inspect their red carpet real estate. Taking his spot two risers from the ground, nestled behind the Good Morning America interview station, Mark said the stars began saunter in as early as 2:15pm.  It was like the damn holding a river of fashionistas broke though and the carpet quickly became a whirlwind of activity and VERY crowded.  Mark sometimes had a hard time snapping clear shots, as paparazzi row to his right was given just enough space to get full length-but as you will see below he was still able to get some amazing close ups of Annette Benning, Warren Beaty, Robert Downey Jr., and Natalie Portman, just to name a few. (...and some unknown people- that is until they became very known as they were crowned by the Academy) And then as quickly as it began, around 5:10pm the river of fashion waned to a trickle and everyone made their way into the theatre.

Both Mark and Steve made their way backstage- to the Press Interview room- where Steve then went to work editing his interviews for his Monday morning station interview, taking in the winners' comments, and tweeting the news to his followers. Mark went to the buffet... Unfortunately for us, they were not allowed cameras, once again, so there are no pictures of the winners or any other “happenings” that indeed went on.  But they did indeed see them and we will just have to take their word on it. But if it makes you feel any better folks I think we will have to tell them what actually happened at the Oscars,  as being backstage they could not hear or see the full telecast- as it was muted on the overhead monitors as the winners entered the interview room. I guess celebrity status does have a price.  Or at least this is what I am telling myself since I watch the whole thing on the couch in my pjs. (with no buffet...)

As a sidebar-and a dose of reality- and as advised by Steve (As Mark is in no position to argue with one of LA's most recognized radio reporters...) regarding "journalistic integrity" ain't all glory sometimes, as to his horror- Mark discovered that his wallet was missing- after he came back from the buffet. Somewhere between checking in at the TSA style security (empty all your pockets sir...) or on the red carpet- and an iPhone in his tuxedo pocket "feeling like" his wallet , as he was completely in autopilot-concentrating on the task at hand. So- perhaps as most of the world was watching acceptance speeches- Mark was actually following with security, solely walking the very quiet red carpet and a bit worried about what the rest of his current trip would be like- sans Mastercard. He did take a few minutes from his search to rapidly edit a few frames to post on his FB page for his friends-as it's all about timing...Unfortunately- at the time I have posted this- no luck. His spare Amex is now taking him to Orlando for the Heli Expo this weekend.

Mark would like to Thank The Academy for the wonderful experience and his good Buddy Steve Gregory at KFI in Los Angeles. (After all that glory- now Steve's next assignment is to get an interview with Charlie Sheen...)

Until Next Time…..