OH, YES, THE OSCARS AND EMMYS are nice, but everyone is on their best behavior. Monday at Morton’s is swell, and lunch at Ivy is cool, but everybody’s talking with food in their mouths. Closed-door meetings are maybe the best, but the doors are closed. No, if you want an insight into the real workings of show business, you have to attend the American Film Market or the annual convention of the National Assn. of TV Program Exex.
NATPE takes place on a convention floor (this year, the Moscone Center in S.F.) and AFM traditionally holds forth at a hotel (this year, ending today, at Loews Hotel, Santa Monica), but the same spirit prevails at both.
The AFM and NATPE meets — one highlighting film, the other TV — are spectacles featuring majors, mini-majors and tiny-but-proud indies, all scrambling to buy and sell product to fill the endless maw of entertainment.
The conventions manage to capture the spirit of the joyous, fun-filled days of your youth, and the emotional rawness of your Uncle Junie’s funeral after his tragic encounter with that hay-baling machine. And that mixture of pathos and euphoria is what show business is all about.
But how to describe these gatherings to someone who’s only dreamed of attending them? Look no further. Here are a few highlights, with a couple of more familiar examples to put these Olympian events into a more earthly perspective.
AFM NATPE SCHOOL CARNIVAL FOREST LAWN
Fun, noise, music, excitement, food YES YES YES no
Lots of people selling things, lots of people buying things YES YES YES no
Porn star/rock singer Hyapatia Lee autographing sexy photos of herself no YES no no
200 people, all smoking, standing in a hotel lobby repeating the phrase “We have top-quality action films” in 25 languages YES no no no
Mechanical dummies sitting under a poster reading “America loves Vicki! the talk show of the ’90s” no YES no no
Posters in corridor for “Malibu Beach Vampires,””Blinky Bill (The Mischievous Koala)” and “Adventures of the Kung-Fu Rascals” YES no no no
Forty-five-foot tall painting of The Crucifixion no no no YES
Banners featuring seven-foot face of Joan Rivers no YES no no
“Booths” of up to 8,000 square feet serving free food and alcohol no YES no no
“Booths” featuring milk-bottle toss, homemade potholders and angel-food cake dolls no no YES no
Personal appearances by celebs like Lassie and “Family Feud” host Ray Combs no YES YES no
Opportunity to have photo taken with four women in bikinis and high heels from Sun’s syndicated “Party in Progress” no YES no no
Triumphant Faith Terraces, FreedomMausoleum, Wee Kirk o’ the Heather no no no YES
Hurdy-gurdy music, mom dressed as Boppo the Clown, and a handful of vomiting children no no YES no
Chance to acquire Indonesian rights to Troma’s “Vegas in Space” YES no no no
Several convention veterans mispronouncing org’s name as Nap-Tee no YES no no
Lively discussions of creativity and the role of artists in society today no no no no
Strange-looking people with sad faces wandering around YES YES YES YES