A massive big top tent will be transformed into an oversized living room for the post SAG Awards gala, which is held in a lot adjacent to the historic Shrine Auditorium and Exposition Center.“We go from zero guests to 1,500 in about 10 minutes,” says Cyd Wilson, director of creative development for People magazine, one of the sponsors for the party. For the 16th year, People and the Entertainment Industry Foundation co-host the after-awards fete, which doubles as a key fundraiser for the SAG Foundation. “It gets us in the forefront of our higher-profile members, many of them who don’t know enough about us,” says JoBeth Williams, chair of the SAG Awards committee and SAG Foundation board president. The cozy seating heightens the event’s welcoming feel. Each nominated show has a designated banquette for cast and guests and booth hopping is the night’s favored activity. “The party is about comfort and a communal feeling,” adds Wilson. The presence of large cast contingents and mix of TV and film thesps began at the show’s inception 18 years ago. “There’s never been a delineation between TV and film people; they’re all mixed together,” says SAG Awards producer Kathy Connell. With the event designed and produced by Tony Schubert of Los Angeles-based Event Eleven, rich fabrics are set to elicit an old Hollywood vibe; colors are black and off-white reminiscent of a vintage movie theater. It takes nine days to transform the Shrine’s cavernous spaces, which includes constructing the covered walkway from hall to party tent. “No matter what, it’s always elegant,” Connell says of the evening’s look that is new for each edition of the awards. Catering is by Tom Byrne of La Cuisine Catering and the menu is decidedly hearty with an emphasis on traditional comfort foods. “It’s a long day, and talent that are nominated probably don’t eat very much, so when the ceremony is over, everyone is famished,” Wilson says. Although there is a seated dinner at the SAG Awards, there are generous buffets at the post-awards party too. A live band and DJ Michelle Pesce entertain and dancing typically extends the affair. In addition to online auctions before the event that also raise funds, People and EIF are donating $100,000 to aid the SAG Foundation’s efforts.
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