Three-day Indian pic confab plans to go H'wood in 2006
If you think the Oscars and Emmys are long, brace yourself.India-based Wizcraft Intl. wants to bring Bollywood to Hollywood in a three-day kudofest slated for spring 2006. Event would include a fashion show, trade fair and basketball games. The hitch? Finding space. Andre Timmins, director of Wizcraft, which puts on many of Bollywood’s kudos events, needs a venue that seats 10,000 — for the Indian and Western stars plus the fans who will buy ducats. But there aren’t many options in L.A. The Staples Center seats 20,000 and the Forum 15,000; the usual venues for Hollywood’s awards shows are too small: The Shrine seats 5,000, the Kodak 3,000. Another possible contender is proposed L.A. Live theater, a venue that would be built across from Staples Center. During a recent trip to L.A., Timmons and his team met with the Mayor’s Office as well as reps with the California Film Commission, L.A. Convention Bureau, Disney Concert Hall and the Shrine Auditorium, among others. California Film Commission Amy Lemisch says, “The Indian producers are a group I want to reach out to, to show what we have to offer here.” With Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan as “brand ambassador,” the Indian Intl. Film Academy has mushroomed in its five years of existence. Fans are mostly from the Indian diaspora, but some are traveling Indians willing to shell out for a package deal of travel, hotel and event tickets. Last May’s ceremony in Singapore included Bollywood celebs such as Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth”), Mani Ratnam (“Yuva,” “A Peck on the Cheek”) and Karan Johar (“Kabhie khushi kabhi gham”) among 16,000 people in the four-day event, which pumped $10 million into the city. “When we (first) put through the concept, it was tough to sell in India,” Timmons says. Today, the IIFA is being wooed by a number of countries. Dubai and cities in Australia and Morocco are also in the running for the 2006 event. And Timmons has about 1,000 groupies willing to travel to whichever city holds the IIFAs — just so long as they get a glimpse of their Bollywood heroes.