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SAG Behind the Scenes Awards

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The 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards celebrated the achievements of the year’s best performances. But it took a team of below-the-line pros to create a forum for the guild’s best and brightest stars to shine.
Exec Producer Jeff Margolis, Producer Kathy Connell, Director Ron de Moraes, Production Designer Ray Klausen, Art Director Michael Venedicto, and Event Supervisor Andrea Wyn Schall headed this year’s behind-the-scenes team. The show, which was held on March 9 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exhibition Center, was broadcast live on TNT.
Set Designer Klausen’s sweeping, arched stage design incorporated 10-foot tall replicas of the guild’s Actor statuette, which is given to each of the year’s winners.
“The basic set is the same as last year’s but we made a few adjustments,” said Margolis. “We added a live orchestra led by Lenny Stack, we cut a hole in the back wall and extended the platforms to accommodate the orchestra. We also enlarged our movie screen…now we have a motion picture aspect ratio screen and it’s easier for everybody in the room…we think we’re the only set for these types of specials that uses wood which brings a lot of warmth into the room and we also have a lot of curves because that brings warmth into the room as well.”
Added de Moraes: “We pride ourselves on involving the actors and audience and this year Jeff (Margolis) went to rectangular tables to get actors to the stage fast and the room looks fuller on camera from almost every angle. We have our stairs in the front which provides easy access to the area and I think our philosophy from the beginning was that this is the actor’s night and the set is an extension of the room and the room is an extension of the set. It’s one place where this party is happening and we are there to experience it with them.”
Venedicto created an atmosphere that would be rich and dramatic on the showroom floor as well as during the television broadcast. Venedicto’s design included rectangular dining tables draped in burgundy red silk taffeta with a centerpiece pyramid of crushed black glass.
“We create everything ourselves and we imported the glass from a stained glass company in Salt Lake City,” said Venedicto, adding that the glass is a camera magnet for the event. “As an art I take into account camera angles, how everything will be perceived from afar and when they come in to do a close up on an actor, all of that – including the beauty in the shot.”
Chef Arabia and his company Global Cuisine created a contemporary American menu for the show’s guests that featured his signature healthy and elegant dishes including cold-smoked chanterelle-dusted filet of beef tenderloin with mustard-horseradish sauce; jumbo tiger prawns on Belgian endive, and Norwegian smoked salmon atop a potato crisp net finished with fennel crème fraiche and topped with Osetra caviar, accompanied by grilled asparagus and oven-roasted baby carrots drizzled with white truffle oil.
“The menu concept and design was that it be elegant for the occasion and have a variety of flavors,” said Arabia. “It’s also well balanced, it’s healthy and there’s hardly any fat, it’s low carb and has enough protein to get the guests through the show so that they can stay awake through the evening.”
Wyn Schall, who has been with the SAG awards for four years, designed the logistics for this year’s ceremonies, including arrivals, dinner and the backstage media areas. “I’m in charge of getting every element of the tables (and dining room) there,” she said. “I make sure that there’s water in the glass and enough champagne on the table as well as bringing in the carpeting and drapes.”
With six months of prep and a six-day install, putting together the show is no small task. Wyn Schall’s team includes 80 people and a host of vendors.

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