Biz driven to brink by car pileups at industry events

Should the Globes be worried?

At Friday’s American Cinematheque dinner, the BevHilton had a parking meltdown, running out of parking spots by 7 p.m. Monday’s Fulfillment Fund gala honoring Tom Rothman, with fewer guests and press, was marginally better, but there was still a significant backup.

Traffic is a problem endemic to Los Angeles, but is particularly fretful at Hollywood tributes, at every venue. Guests, whether driving themselves or in the backseat of a limo, have to deal with parking passes, “helpful” traffic coordinators, too few valets and crowds of shrieking fans.

Most of these venues are in neighborhoods with restricted street parking. At the Hilton, for example, the alternative to hotel parking is a long hike away in the BevHills business district — not something women in high heels are likely to make.

But the issue found a perfect storm at the BevHilton’s Friday event honoring George Clooney. With parking spots filling early, arriving guests after 7 p.m. were stuck in their cars in the driveway. “At one point we wanted to turn around and just leave,” said one studio exec about his 40-minute wait, “and then we realized we couldn’t.”

There also was a long lineup at the valet for cars after the event (one studio topper fumed for an hour and 45 minutes waiting for her car).

The backup with parking naturally caused problems with the dinner service, since many guests weren’t in their seats on time.

As for Monday’s Fulfillment Fund event, one Fox exec said he spent 40 minutes “breathing fumes” in the driveway before being told there was no more valet parking.

This does not bode well for awards season, when the hotel gets used heavily. Upcoming events include the Hollywood Film Festival dinner, the Oscar nominees luncheon and the Golden Globes.

The hotel, which is home to 175 red-carpet events a year, said it’s making adjustments to eliminate the gridlock.

“Friday was a mistake and we own that,” said hotel spokesman Marie Garvey. “There was a miscommunication internally on the guest count. It was completely our fault and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

Garvey said the hotel instituted a new parking plan Saturday that will “effectively manage events” and promised, “We’re fully prepared for the awards season.” She said that, as of Tuesday, the hotel has added 10 new valet parkers and “we continue to make adjustments.”

She said the closure of the nearby Robinson-May parking lot where some guests had often chosen to park and walk to the hotel was not a factor in Friday’s problems. (The lot may become a condominium project.)

Barbara Davis wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a problem for her Oct. 28 Carousel Ball, which is arguably the biggest charity gala on the West Coast. Davis went directly to the Robinson-May parking lot owner and secured the onetime use of 400 parking spaces.

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