For Governors Ball committee chair Russ Patrick, the most emotional moment from last year’s Emmys fete was watching awe-struck guests snap cell phone photos as they entered the party.
“It literally gives me chills as I think about it,” Patrick says. “Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of guests both nights, as they came in, were holding up phones, capturing on camera the extraordinary visual image that it was.”
This year’s 66th annual Emmy Awards Governors Ball, taking place Aug. 25 and themed Kaleidoscope of Color, promises an even grander, decked-out soiree. (The Creative Arts Ball on Aug. 16 is also themed accordingly.)
“When the guests walk into the west hall of the L.A. Convention Center their senses are going to be assaulted in a major way by this extraordinary riot of color — laser beams, Versa Tubes, projected color,” Patrick says . “It’s going to be quite a show.”
On the entertainment end, top-40 cover band the Red Hot Band will back chanteuse Judith Hill (“20 Feet from Stardom”), while Extreme Beam is scheduled to perform a choreographed routine set to pulsating lasers. Debbie Allen Dance Academy members will cut a rug to tunes spun by DJ Cory Live and String Theory, a hybrid performance ensemble, will entrance partygoers with two gigantic harps featuring over 2,400 feet of brass wire and a dual Cyclodrum sculpture consisting of 26 drums hanging 10 feet off the ground.
Per Patrick, the two bashes combined, with guests totaling 6,800 (3,800 at Governors Ball; 3,000 at Creative Arts Ball) cost “north of $2 million.”
And as all these industry insiders need to be fed, Alec Lestr, executive chef of Patina catering, will steer a kitchen staff of 205 cooks to prepare a lavish three-course meal, the highlights of which include: a grilled peach and heirloom tomato salad; filet of beef with artisan Witch Fingers grapes and caramelized cipollini; smores made of Alunga whipped ganache, torched marshmallow fluff, Graham crumble and Inaya chocolate pop rocks; and an assortment of fine Beaulieu Vineyard wines.
“We cook pretty much everything to order,” Lestr says. “What we’ve discovered over the years is that the whole trick to making really good food on such a large scale is to just wait until the last minute to cook everything. For the 3,800 guests we have 38 dish-up lines that work as 38 individual kitchens. It’s as if there are 38 restaurants each doing a party for 100 guests all cooking at the last second and all choreographed to fire simultaneously.”
While such a massive undertaking might overwhelm a lesser, more timid, party planner, event producer Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Productions “thrives on the electric energy” of the balls.
“I have a phenomenal production team,” says Cecchetto, whose coffee table book “Passion to Create” from Australian publishing company Buzz is due out this November. “I surround myself with talent left and right. I love when all of the details are falling into place and everyone can enjoy all of the elements that you and a great team have so methodically put into place.”
On the night of the event, Cecchetto usually stands at the entrance for the first 15 or so minutes to “make sure the fire marshal’s happy and everybody’s coming in very seamlessly,” but for her that is all part of the fun.
“It’s exciting to see everybody walking in with those Emmys,” she says. “We’re talking 80 Emmys. All of the winners head over to that winners circle. It’s so celebratory and you can be a complete stranger and you say to the person that’s won ‘Congratulations!’ because you know what an accomplishment it is and they look you straight in the eyes and say ‘Thank you.’ So that’s really exciting.”
“I enjoy when my clients can network and celebrate with the television industry,” Patrick adds. “It really is the television industry’s event of the year.”