One sign Hollywood excess has returned to the Golden Globes: The celebrity gifting suites
The scene: a cramped collection of rooms on the mezzanine level of the Century Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills; a space crammed with vendors showing off all manner of products related to babies and kids -- from eco-friendly baby barf bags (with the saucy name Chuck the Yuck) to hand-painted toy wagons and toilet paper made from sheets of bamboo. Alas, no funny name there.
At the heart of this chaos, actor Chris Noth (right, with wife Tara) -- best-known perhaps as love interest Mr. Big in the Sex and the City film and TV series -- pokes around the booths, clad casually in a T-shirt and tote bag, rooting through a display of handmade hats and mittens before walking into a room filled with baby carriages and car seats. Before him, Santa Clause star Tim Allen, actress Anne Heche and Heroes co-star Ali Landry had walked the hallways, assistants or relatives trailing behind, bearing huge bags filled with free swag handed out by the eager participants in this particular shrine to celebrity worship.
Called the Boom Boom Room Children's Gifting Wonderland, this event allows dozens of manufacturers of kiddie products to "gift" their products to a roster of big-time celebrity parents, in exchange for an enthusiastic quote or, better still, a picture of said celebrity holding up the product -- an instant badge of hipness in a competitive marketplace. One manufacturer of rugged-looking diaper bags traveled all the way from Maine for the two-day frenzy, considered one of the biggest gifting events in Hollywood -- hyped about the cool factor bestowed on her products by a well-known performer's gushing.
Even when last year's Globes party was shelved by the Hollywood writers strike, the Boom Boom Room gifting event went on, continuing Hollywood's proud tradition of handing free stuff to famous people who could easily afford to buy it themselves (a colleague based here tells me there are six other such events planned for Golden Globes week). About 83 companies were on hand for this year's kiddie event, from custom toy manufacturers bragging about repairing a wagon trashed by Tea Leoni's kids to an organic bath blanket manufacturer cooing that Allen loved their Panda model, because it shares his child's nickname. (Allen, left, with wife Jane.)
Jayneoni Moore, a "life and style expert" who opines about fashion for a gaggle of TV shows and publications hosts this event every year, which is touted as a fundraiser for several charities. But the biggest beneficiaries may be the world-famous celebrities packing the aisles for their pick from thousands of dollars worth of the coolest kiddie products in the country. (Evan Handler at left.)
Photos provided by L'ovedbaby nursing shawl company, at www.lovedbaby.com.
Expect more tales of excess and celebrity culture throughout the day and into tomorrow, as I prepare to cover the 66th annual Golden Globe Awards from ground zero -- a press room from inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel where the ceremony will be telecast live on NBC.
Come here for updates or feel free to check my Twitter page, where I'll be trying to stay sane by posting cutting commentary through the night.