I've been in Hollywood for twenty years now, and we've had some wonderful, wonderful involvements with some very top-end events, such as the WINGS Tennis & Golf Classic with Robert Wagner in the 1990s and a host of other shows that I have been involved in, as producer and/or director and/or performer and/or executive producer (the person who runs the whole show).  I have also been able to be just a celebrity attendee at some of these shows, but prefer being involved, because it is a glorious thing to see one's ideas come alive, and for a good cause.

But this blog is really to dedicate my thanks to a very close friend who phoned me last week with a very small dilemma.  He had been invited to an exclusive event in Hollywood, to which he was going to take his son, who has an interest in the theme of this event (which I shall divulge in just a moment).  Unfortunately for them both, there was an age limit and my friend's son was too young to go.  So my friend called to invite me to go in his son's place.  I have always loved this man, and he has been my trusted friend for many years.  Whenever I get a call from him I am willing to do my very best for him, as one does with their dearest friends.

This event was among the most impressive events I have seen since my earliest involvements with such shows.  One thousand rich people from Hollywood (and you know how rich that can be!) were invited to see the unveiling of the newest Rolls Royce, Bentley, Porsche, and Jaguar models.  What wealth we were amongst.  We are not the big earners, we got there because we knew someone, and they knew that Rand's love for cars was enough to make it a wonderful outing.

The event took place on the Gladiator set at Universal Studios, and was a totally closed set except for the 1,000 people.  What a busy place.  What an incredible thing to be involved in.  We were mostly on the Gladiator set.  I love that movie, even though I was not originally a big Russell Crowe fan (his apparent arrogance in the beginning of his career seemed to me to be so unnecessary, but I would say that because I am a very un-push-forward kind of chap myself).  But seeing a Rolls Royce right on the hill where Russell Crowe's character would have ridden up with Richard Harris' character, or where all the action would have taken place in Rome, is just fascinating.

Rand and I have been involved in some very exciting and memorable events, as we are both active in Hollywood in both our professional occupations, and our charitable activities.  There were, of course, free goodies.  Amongst these small trifles and treasures, Jaguar gave away gift bags containing a beautiful stuffed baby jaguar doll, with a chrome keychain of the Jaguar insignia, which was absolutely adorable.




As the night fell, all the lighting, which I had never noticed in the daylight, had come on and illuminated the set.  As a producer, I have always loved the way even simple lighting could bring a setting to life and convey a mood or idea.  I always look for up and down lighting and of course the hidden lighting which gives the parapets and stained glass windows much more light and gives, what is called in the lighting business a third dimension.  Not only do you have the item you are lighting, but you also have the light on that item, which generates maybe one or two more dimensions.  It isn't that these things are not already three-dimensional, but the depth is enhanced by the lighting.

So suddenly the night came, and Rand and I had our very expensive meal, which was lovely.  Afterwards we looked at the cars again, in all their well-lit and beautifully-staged glory.  Those vehicles, those modern chariots, those Bentleys, Rolls Royces, and the Daimler (with its $236,000 worth of materials and engineering), are so magnificent.  Every Englishman, certainly Englishmen of my age, who has ridden in these (usually only in weddings and funerals) dreams of owning one.  In my case I actually had the pleasure of borrowing the white Rolls Royce that belonged to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, from their driver, whom they allowed to use their cars to make extra money for himself by driving for weddings, films, and other events.  He knew I was a careful driver and could be trusted with it.  It was only for one evening, when I was a young man, but it was a very memorable experience showing up to pick up my date in it.  Unfortunately, I was so nervous driving it, I couldn't even hold my date's hand, for fear of anything happening to the car whilst I had it.  So perhaps I was not the most romantic creature in the world that day, but driving the Rolls Royce was just spectacular.  But I digress.

Normally at car shows one expects to see ladies with large, plastic breasts spilling out of bikinis.  I think it is because of my age, but I am really not interested in looking crumpet anymore.  I went to actually see the cars, but more to be in the company of my friend.  At this show, because of the clientele, every car was showed off by lovely, elegant ladies in evening gowns, which is so refreshingly tasteful for this oft trashy town.

Later in the evening there was to be a fashion show in the center of Rome (or the Rome substitute we were in).  We did not stay for this.  I've never been keen on seeing stick insects on Prozac stomping, pouting, and slouching down a lit runway to sell a piece of cloth; it makes me feel a little embarrassed.

Apart from that, the excellent company I was in, the wonderful food, and the rather nice conversations I had with strangers at tables in the amphitheater of the Gladiator set made it a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and I would like to thank Rand from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to attend something so exclusive, so beautifully produced, and so magically presented.  Thanks also to Rusnak, the high-end car dealership who put on this incredibly expensive unveiling of the new imported luxury vehicles.  I would very much look forward to going to next year's event.  I also want to thank Rolls Royce and Bentley for making cars that I adore, though I will never be able to afford one of their cars, even used.  Still, being there made my year.

In closing, thank you to the heavens and the stars.  As Russell Crowe's character in Gladiator said "What we do in life echos in eternity".

I wish you all good luck, and I hope your own particular god goes with you.  Goodbye and thank you.



© Copyright 2011 John Levene Sgt. At Arms
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