The end of August is supposed to be the dog days of summer, a time when things go quiet and everyone is off on vacation relaxing. But it seems no one told Los Angeles that! Perhaps it is because we have summer weather most of the year, but no matter what the reason, the weekend of August 22 to 24 was so jam-packed with parties, concerts and fancy food events that there was no possible way to do it all.
It was the weekend of both the 66th Emmy Awards (which were moved to Monday August 25 instead of Sunday, to avoid conflict with NFL games) and the MTV Video Music Awards, so parties stacked up all over town. There was the good (the annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles TV Tea), the so-so (the Beatles 50th at the Bowl concert), the yummy (the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival) and the seriously ugly (gunfire at the Chris Brown-hosted pre-VMAs bash at 1OAK LA).
Happily, we skipped the Chris Brown party (which sent notorious music producer Suge Knight to Cedars-Sinai Hospital with gunshot wounds), but spent Saturday afternoon celebrating with the Brits (and plenty of Americans, too) at the BAFTA TV Tea on the patio at the SLS Hotel, where only the sun was packing heat.
It definitely looked more like a garden party than a club night gone wrong, as seersucker-suited gents and pretty-as-a-picture gals jostled for shade on the perfect SoCal afternoon. Everywhere you turned there was an Emmy nominee, from gorgeous Brits Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, Cat Deeley and Minnie Driver to Americans Anna Chlumsky, Laverne Cox and Lizzy Kaplan. Uzo Aduba from “Orange Is the New Black” and Joe Morton of “Scandal” fame, both winners who already took home their trophies at the Creative Emmy Awards on August 16, shared a moment of celebration, while Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and her co-star James Frain excitedly discussed the BBC America premiere of their new show “Intruders,” which began airing that evening.
“It’s a fascinating thriller with a bit of a supernatural element,” Sorvino explained, then laughed and pointed at Frain. “Look out, whenever he is on screen, something very bad happens!”
“Oh, I’m not that bad,” Frain said with a devilish grin.
“And we’re so happy to be on BBC America,” added the Englishman, “where we are in such good company.” Company like the shows “Orphan Black,” “Doctor Who” and “Atlantis,” the network’s other popular series that feature their own out-of-this-world plotlines.
BBC America and Jaguar were the presenting sponsors of the garden party, which featured plenty of tea and scones, along with the prerequisite gin and tonics, One Hope Wines and other adult libations. We spotted “Fargo” nominee Allison Tolman on the packed patio, along with Anne Heche, Cary Elwes, Jacqueline Bisset, Courtney Bingham-Sixx, Kiernan Shipka, Shohreh Aghdashloo, producer Julia Verdin and plenty of other Hollywood heavyweights in the crowd.
That was a party to remember, but it’s hard to say the same for The Beatles 50th at the Bowl, a three-night celebration of the anniversary of that legendary band’s first performance at the Hollywood Bowl. “Ringmaster” Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics fame pulled together the tribute band – and therein lay the problem. Sure, the Englishman has history with Fab Four, having collaborated with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on a tune or two, and having known all of the Beatles over the years. But the ragtag tribute band he put together for the sold-out shows simply couldn’t hold a candle to the real thing.
Perhaps that’s because Stewart cast his son Django in the role of John Lennon, a singing task that was far beyond his vocal range? Or maybe because Stewart himself took on some of the singing himself, with cringe-worthy results? Regardless of the reasons (Stewart enlisted his other son Sam and 14-year-old daughter Kaya as part of the Friday night show as well), the show was lackluster at best – and the best was when Liv Warfield belted out “Come Together” and Seattle soul singer Allen Stone took the stage and did wonders with “Yesterday.”
Otherwise, Billy Ray Cyrus growled his way through “A Hard Day’s Night” and moaned out “Hey Jude,” which helped the receptive crowd join in. The nicest moment happened then, too, as thousands of concertgoers held up their lit cellphones in a tribute to the band that the world adored.
There were no stumbles at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, which took place all over the City of Angels from August 21-24, as chefs from our city and beyond joined forces to remind the world that L.A. is one of the foodie capitals of the world. From private meals and cooking classes with top tocques like Nancy Silverton, Graham Elliot, Scott Conant, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Chiarello to the huge food and wine celebrations held on Grand Street in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall for three nights in a row, virtually every event was sold out.
We hit the “Lexus Presents LIVE on Grand, Hosted by Michael Chiarello” bash held on Saturday night August 23 and the place was jumping, with partygoers who had paid $250 per ticket standing in long lines to sample the wares – and take selfies with the chefs – of people like Neal Fraser, Lorena Garcia, Ben Ford, Nancy Silverton and Chiarello himself. And be it bacon or broccolini, there was something for every palate on offer, as well as a dazzling display of fine wines and a concert by Grammy winning rapper Common.
We kept going back for the Jordan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and couldn’t stay away from the Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard Cab either, but the most popular wine booth of the night was Ferguson Crest, the Santa Ynez winery founded by Pat Ferguson and his singer-actress daughter Stacy – also known as Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas. Thankfully, their wines stand up to the taste test, but it certainly helped that Fergie was there pouring the family vintages all night; for it seems that on a celebrity-saturated weekend in Los Angeles, the big names still draw the biggest crowds, no matter where they happen to be appearing.
Follow Jenny Peters on Twitter at @jennpeters or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JetSetJen.