It’s been 20 years since Cheryl Cecchetto produced her first Governors Ball, and, if anything, she’s more enthusiastic now than she was in those early days when she was plucked from her position as catering manager by AMPAS’ former controller, Otto Spoerri, to oversee Oscar night’s biggest party.
“I get off on the massive organization of it,” Cecchetto says. “It feels really good for me to bring a large group of people together and celebrate. That’s what drives me.”
A self-described “neat nut” with a penchant for precision, Cecchetto wields an old- fashioned binder with tabs and “lists of lists” to pull together every last detail of the party at the Kodak Theater for 1,500. She oversees everything from the decor to making sure the guest who would like to forgo the first-course lobster appetizer gets a vegan meal.
The former actress, who had guest spots on “The Golden Girls” and “L.A. Law,” had event-planning in her blood. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, she worked as a banquet manager for her uncle’s restaurant and remembers many evenings spent passing trays at large family gathering with her sisters.
Today, as president of Sequoia Prods., she reports to ball chair Cheryl Boone Isaacs for this gig and supervises more than 800 staffers and vendors on Oscar night.
This year, Cecchetto has chosen an East-meets-West theme using a color palette of sea foam, bronze and chocolate brown because, she says, “It’s elegant, simple and not ostentatious, which feels right because of the economy.”
Incorporating the five feng shui elements — earth, air, fire, water and wood — the producer is including several stunning elements for the decor including water walls and “living landscapes” with oversized Bonsai trees and elaborate vines created by Mark’s Garden.
Cecchetto can’t even begin to estimate the number of hours she puts into producing each party but says, “If you asked me what I make an hour, I’d say maybe a buck. You can’t just be a taskmaster for this job. You really have to love it, and I do.”