It was a rainy night in Hollywood, but no spirits were dampened at the Producers Guild of America’s West Coast Celebration of PGA Award nominated producing teams.
Held at the Hollywood Museum and bathed in the soft glow of Mel’s Diner’s neon lights, hundreds of guests snaked through four full levels of entertainment industry memorabilia – the multiple displays featuring costumes from the Pointer Sisters are not to be missed – while enjoying their choice open bars and wide-variety of hors d’oeuvres.
Deep inside the Max Factor building, even queuing for the elevator was more genial than at typical gatherings, in no small part due to the working bar housed inside – first introduced by Max Factor on the opening night of his Make-Up studio in 1935.
But for as comfortable as it was to lounge amidst Hollywood’s past, the evening was much more concerned about looking ahead towards the industry’s bright future. In that sense, it was more appropriate than ever that the PGA would be awarding its Inaugural Innovation award in the same building as an elaborate “Back to the Future” exhibit.
The award for innovation has been a long time coming, according to Vance Van Petten, who serves as PGA National Executive Director/COO alongside Susan Sprung. While the organization has tried for years to implement a way to honor those breaking new ground in the industry, it’s only now that the dream is a reality.
“Real innovation is not about novelty,” said Chris Thomes, a delegate for the New Media Council, explaining the PGA’s beliefs when it comes to innovating. “Instead it comes from the synthesis of novel ideas and the familiarity of the status quo. It is disruption with a purpose. Reinventing what we know to be true and changing the course of industry or even society.”
Out of 14 nominees it was “Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode 1” that took home the PGA’s first prize for innovation. The team from “Vader Immortal” were especially pleased with the honor because the project “was very much a production.” Up against hard deadlines in conjunction with an Oculus Rift launch date, one member joked, “My job on this was very much, okay let’s innovate. And then it became, okay let’s innovate faster.”
Also awarded at Thursday night’s ceremony was the trophy for Short-Form Program, where Netflix’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” was triumphant. It’s the fourth PGA Award win for the series which features Jerry Seinfeld, with comedians, in cars.
Though Seinfeld wasn’t present to accept the award, legendary talent manager and TV producer George Shapiro accepted on his behalf.
“First of all, Jerry Seinfeld, he loves comedians, he really does. He loves cars, he loves coffee,” Shapiro said, going on to thank Netflix and the production team on the series.
“Tonight, Jerry Seinfeld actually is in Boise, ID spreading out his laughs He’s working constantly on the road,” he told the audience before wryly adding, “That’s not why he’s not here, but…”
Earlier in the week, the PGA held its East Coast Celebration for nominees and announced the winners for two other categories: Sports Program and Children’s Program.
The production team for “What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali” triumphed in sports, while the production team for Season 49 of “Sesame Street” was the big winner for kids entertainment.
The fun continues this weekend at the Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 18 at the Hollywood Palladium.