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"..it 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…..


  1. LUV the pics Mark - wonderful!

  2. Great pics Mark! Sorry to hear about your wallet though. Seems you have a tough time holding on to passports and wallets though....we need to find you a better way to have this stuff secured to you some how :-)