The following is a three part article posted on Women's Voices for Change and consolidated for this page.
Diary of a Documentary Filmmaker
During Oscars Weekend
What’s it like to be in Hollywood during Oscars weekend? Playwright/producer/ screenwriter Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, a Women’s Voices board member, is our Beverly Hills correspondent: She has promised to tell her diary, and us, what’s happening out there during her working—but definitely glamorous—weekend.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Sitting on the roof of the Peninsula Hotel in the cabana next to Harvey Weinstein’s. My old movie friend is (always) on the phone. I took a three-mile walk around Beverly Hills and bought cotton pants and a new glam beach top. Now cold—but it’s whole lot better than in NYC.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21
Here I am at breakfast; my film partner, Catherine Tambini, is taking my picture in the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Couldn’t be better, except if we were nominees. Catherine’s had the experience before (her film Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse was nominated for an Academy Award), so she knows the difference.
Last night we went to the Pre-Oscars Women in Film party with Ellen Goosenberg, a nominee this year for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, for which Catherine’s husband, Peter Miller, is the sound recordist. Also schmoozed with Patti LuPone, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Hudson, Rory Kennedy, and a passel of fabulous women. And plenty of gorgeous young men. Great hors d’oeuvres, champagne, and woman DJ. Yesterday afternoon we had lunch at the pool with Vin Roberti. Now we’re going out to fast-walk through Beverly Hills. Then hair and makeup for the next event. STAY TUNED.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21
My film partner, Catherine Tambini, and I were invited to the SHORTS HD celebration of the filmmakers nominated for—guess what—short films! The venue was the beautiful Paley Center in Beverly Hills, just a few minutes from our hotel. Of course, there’s no walking in L.A., so we took a cab. We hung out with about a hundred movie movers and shakers. And two folks painted like gold Oscars, doing a weird slow dance and standing stock still. We were too superstitious to get a photo with Oscar, so we did a few selfies, watched our friend Ellen Goosenberg—a nominee for her film Crisis Hotline—and the rest of her team shine in their moment in the spotlight. Then back to the hotel with VERY sore feet. Tomorrow’s a long day and a three-party night, so we’re having room service and watching SNL. We’re going to Elton John’s viewing party, then Harvey Weinstein’s party, and then we hustle back to Elton’s after-party to catch up with Vin Roberti and his lovely wife, Amy—who is a major player in international tax issues. Those stories to come.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22
My film partner Catherine Tambini and I had been spending quiet moments in various inspiring spots (like the elevator and the bar) around the Peninsula Hotel, working on what’s known as “the elevator pitch,” the totally compelling encapsulation of the film you’re working on—in hopes that you travel briefly with a mogul who can’t escape. This is also used at lunch and cocktail parties or after breakfast when you re-introduce yourself to a powerful producer.
Frankie Valli’s “Oh, What a Night” kept spinning on the turntable of my mind. Yup—a dinosaur of a mind and metaphor, but still moving . . .
First stop: Elton John’s mythic Viewing Party to benefit AIDS research. More than 900 partygoers made merry in huge white tents with glass tops. Good thing, since it was pouring. By the end of the night, the white wall-to-gigantic-wall carpet was soaked. But it didn’t stop the hoards of ravenous-for-a-quote reporters and photographers snapping and barking over the fence that somewhat contained them on the red carpet (here, actually a white carpet) and the willing celebs who stepped up to the mics. Our little party blew past them. Relatively speaking, I looked as if I were dressed for the tundra in February. Or New York City. Vin Roberti and I are in eveningwear, though it’s broad daylight. Weird. Weirder? It’s quite cold in the tent, but the rest of the women take no notice at all.
Great music, drinks, and food—and enormous screens—in the first tents. Then we were called in to dinner as the Oscar broadcast began. I was seated between Vin and his wife, Amy. On Vin’s other side: Cloris Leachman. When I introduced myself, she laughed at “Hemmerdinger.” She made me repeat it at least five times, and kept on laughing. Well, she’s entitled to her (private) sense of humor at 88.
Catherine and I slipped out to drop by Harvey Weinstein’s Viewing Party. It was also great fun, with a less raucous vibe. Great views of the city and plenty of screens. Brava, Julianne Moore—what a wonderful performance in Still Alice.
Congratulations to Ellen Goosenberg and Dana Perry for winning Best Short Documentary! What do you send to friends who go home with the Oscar???
Back to Elton’s party. After the broadcast—which was short on suspense—the real party began. The huge stage in the dinner tent was flooded with sensational musicians.
Cloris and I danced a bit. The guests were invited to visit the other tents for more food at sumptuous buffet tables and drinks at huge glowing bars. We didn’t feel the need to eat, but we did have one last glass for the road.
Then Elton (well, of course we’re all on a first-name basis after an evening that begins at 4 in the afternoon) took over on the ivories. So generous and inspiring. Such a grand host and talent!
Leaving Elton’s Party. Cinderella’s feet need a rest.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Sadly packing up to come home to the cold weather but warm hearts of the family. It was nice to go, and great to come home. Even without an Oscar.
It was great to see always-gorgeous, always-working Cindy Adams at the end of the festivities—and to have her comments. Here’s the link: http://pagesix.com/2015/02/24/courting-james-corden-for-broadway-musical/
Playwright, screenwriter, and producer Elizabeth Hemmerdinger began her career in theater and film as a playwright, winning the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Goldberg Prize for "We Can Do It!", which she is now adapting as a musical. Her play "Squall" was the winner of the U.S. West Theatre Festival. That and two other plays, "Fine Family" and "The National Treasure," have been produced from the Williamstown Theater Festival to Europe. Her growing cycle of 10-minute Rage Plays are produced around the country. Hemmerdinger is the Executive Producer of The Real Rosie the Riveter Project, a growing collection of filmed oral histories of the women who took the place of men on the production line during World War II. The collection is housed at NYU’s Tamiment Labor Archive at the Bobst Libraries. A tireless advocate for women, Hemmerdinger has written for "Ms. Magazine," and is a member of the Board of Directors of Women’s Voices for Change and a regular contributor to its website. She is a founding board member of Dancing Dreams, which teaches a unique collaboration between high school girls and children with severe physical disabilities.