Rock stars helping bashes make splashes

Booking a big name act can build party buzz

As guests left the Shrine Auditorium after this year’s Emmy Awards ceremony and headed to the after-parties, talk quickly turned from “30 Rock” to rock ‘n’ roll.

Music has become an increasingly important factor for awards show post-parties as event planners strive to book the hottest acts.

With at least five big fetes following an awards show, partygoers have several options, but event sponsors want to make sure their party is the party of the night. This is where having a great band can definitely help.

“You want to get an artist who creates that watercooler buzz,” says Lisa Summers Haas, “ET”/”Insider” veep of communication.

At this year’s “ET”/People mag Emmy party, guests were treated to a live performance by Duran Duran.

“I want to walk out to the party and see Jeremy Piven and the cast from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ dancing,” Summers Haas says.

Not to be outdone, the TV Guide Emmy bash had John Legend and Kanye West hitting the stage.

“We want our entertainment to not only attract the stars, but keep them there,” says John Geiger, TV Guide’s vice president of consumer marketing and business development.

The task of luring talent and guests is especially important to the Elton John Oscar party, because besides being a lively bash, it is also a fund-raiser.

Last year alone, the event raised $4.2 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. “The party is a place where Elton likes to invite new artists to perform, and people are excited by that,” says the organization’s executive director, Scott Campbell.

“They know that while everyone is doing good, they will also be treated to a really great performance. We’ve had Nelly Furtado and James Blunt in past years, and we always want people who are great live performers and are really exciting to watch.”

Savvy planners make sure the word gets out once they have a major act set to perform at a party.

“We announce on ‘ET’ who the performer will be 10 days before the event, and once we do, the RSVP calls double. People are trying to get into our party any way they can, even trying to crash,” Summers Haas says.

The InStyle/Warner Bros. Golden Globes party always features a lively dance band, and this year will be no different.

“Guests come into our party ready to take their shoes off and start dancing,” says Cyd Wilson, director of creative development for InStyle mag. “People who are coming to the party have been sitting in the ceremony and eating and drinking, so once they leave, they are ready to dance.”

Past bashes have featured dance bands like the James Gang, and although Wilson says they have not yet locked down an act for this year’s party, you can bet they will book a band that plays, “danceable and recognizable” music.

Coordinating these live performances is no small feat. Planning begins almost a year before the actual event. In “ET’s” case, “We start conversations as early as the first of the year internally,” Summers Haas explains. “As the spring progresses, we look at things like timing of album releases and who might be in the local L.A. market during the Emmy weekend.”

Another important factor is finding a band that can strike a chord with a mass audience, pleasing the 20-year olds as well as the 40-year olds.

Once the band is finally picked, the hard work isn’t over, as party production reaches a new level with stages, lights and sound checks now involved. “It really becomes a mini concert,” Summers Hass observes.

And with all the planning, there is always the unpredictability that comes with the world of music. Fire marshals had to be called to the “ET”/People mag post-Emmy bash due to overcrowding when Prince got onstage two years ago.

But as long the music draws the much-desired buzz as well as an impressive guest list, rock ‘n’ roll will remain a lively fixture at award show after-parties.