Live from New York, it’s the Gothams

Kudocast strives for balance of panache, indie street cred

With a set that takes inspiration from a construction zone, it might seem like somebody is trying to lower expectations for the first live broadcast of the Gotham Awards. But that is not the case.

To the producers of the show from Independent Feature Project New York and the Independent Film Channel, the kudocast’s design is meant to evoke the rough-edged ethos of the city’s indie film community.

To that end, executive producer Joshua Cicerone — Gotham’s equivalent of Academy Awards production chief Gil Cates — has been working on the right balance of panache and indie street cred for the show.

The result is an eclectic mix of personalities: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” helmer-star John Cameron Mitchell will be presiding over the red-carpet arrivals. Grandmaster Flash will DJ, spinning tunes from a perch near the stage. Thesp Bob Balaban will serve as the ceremony’s host — a position that was filled just two weeks before the show.

At the same time, though, the construction theme is apt as the event is emerging from a bit of a retooling.

This year, the Gothams gala moved out of its usual post-IFP Market berth in September to December, smack in the middle of awards season. Organizers have added competitive kudo categories to broaden the scope beyond New York — not so much to compete with sister org IFP/Los Angeles’ Independent Spirit Awards, but to add some surprise to the evening.

“The Spirit Awards are afternoon on the beach. The Gothams are a very elegant evening at Chelsea Piers at night. It has a more formal air to it,” says Debbie DeMontreux, executive producer of the show for IFC, where the Gothams have aired for the past few years in an edited format.

The evening’s sit-down dinner format remains, though going live called for sprucing up production values. Says Michelle Byrd, IFP/New York’s exec director. “On a basic level, it’s a fund-raising gala. It serves as an entree point into the world of indie film for our members. And it also needs to capture a TV audience.”

Those taking the stage to collect honors will include helmer Mike Leigh, New Yorker Films topper Dan Talbot, and the talent behind “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

With that lineup, anything could happen, and Cicerone is hoping it will. “Giving somebody like Mike Leigh a chance to talk to a national audience means we’ve done our jobs,” he says.

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