Sunday, November 16, 2008

Red carpet Hollywood-style -- Behind-the-scenes

Late last week, I covered a celebrity event and found myself surrounded by paparazzi at a red-carpet affair in Hollywood. The media were there for the Best Friends' fundraiser, but as each celebrity appeared and walked down the red carpet, some reporters asked them about everything except the real reason they were there -- the cause for Los Angeles-area animals -- at the newly renovated Hollywood Palladium. "What do you think of the presidential election?" The Hollywood Reporter asked Rene Russo. Looking surprised, she paused for a second and said it was great, that she liked the outcome. Robert Culp said the same thing, then got down to the business at hand by talking about his cat and his wife, Candace Faulkner. "Candace and I got together because our cats hate each other," he told the reporter. They lived a few houses away from each other and their cats used to fight. "That was years ago," Culp continued. "Then we met again at a FedEx office, and here we are." Then he kissed her. Some celebrities brought their own dogs with them, to escort them on the red carpet. Those who didn't used prop dogs, like Fluffy, who appeared in several pics with celebrities. House's Lisa Edelstein carried her small dog in a handbag and Emmy Rossum held her small Yorkshire Terrier in her hand. The list of big-name celebrities was long. But for one paparazzo, they weren't enough -- until Rene Russo showed up. "Who's that," I asked a photographer when a female actress I didn't recognize walked down the carpet. "Nobody," he said. "I'm waiting for somebody." Then Russo arrived and he jumped around yelling out her name. "Somebody" had arrived. At one point, a paparazza's iPhone rang. She answered it, then said quietly to her neighbor, "There's been a sighting," because a star they were tracking was sighted somewhere in Hollywood. They stayed put, though, and didn't leave the red carpet as more celebrities began showing up right. When comedic actor Arte Johnson arrived, a young reporter told someone standing next to her, "He's on General Hospital." "And Laugh-In," I told them, dating myself, as they gave me blank looks, obviously not registering the 1970s TV show. Inside, veteran actress Cloris Leachman talked to me about animals. "I just rescued a dog two weeks ago," she said. "He was wandering on my street. The first thing I did was give him a bath." He was reunited with his person the next day, she told me. On stage, country blues singer Emmylou Harris performed, making a poised, regal appearance. "Remember," she told the audience, "animals are people too." I was nearby when a cameraman with x17 Video asked former Full House child actress Jodi Sweetin a question. "What brings you out tonight?" "Anything for the animals -- it stirs my heart," Sweetin told x17 Video. "To come out for a great cause tonight is a lot of fun." Indeed. Photos by Andy Sheng

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