The 13th Annual Webby Awards, Cipriani Wall Street, New York
June 9, 2009
As I'm writing this, the skies have opened up and it's pouring in NYC. This following an absolutely beautiful, if not a little humid, evening on Wall Street. Last year it was at least 100 degrees and I remember the red carpet being a sweltering mass of heat-magnifying lights, celebs, and sweat. And it wasn't the sweet glistening sweat, either. Last night we had a nice breeze going and the temperature was perfect. Good thing, because a certain pair of zebra-print leggings could have been a much grosser situation.
I arrived at Cipriani Wall Street and ran straight to the cocktail reception to get those "before we started drinking" pics. While navigating the skin mob on the cool marbled balcony I met two students from Wayland Student Press Network, the Webby People's Voice winner in the student category. They joked about coming armed with warnings to stay away from the alcohol.
The red carpet was much smaller media-wise this time. I didn't see the AppScout crew, Natali Del Conte from CNET TV, or the previous paparazzi pile-up. I was stationed between The New York Observer's Gillian Reagan (who reads this column, yay!) and a correspondent from The Hollywood Reporter who was incredibly shy and sweetly star struck by Seth Meyers. The Huffington Post sent three people to cover the event, one with a video camera who kept getting yelled at for missing shots of Isabella Rossellini. Towards the end of the celeb parade, which included the painfully adorable Sarah Silverman, the flawless Molly Sims, Steve Krakauer arrived. Steve is leaving mediabistro's TV Newser -- and lucky for him, he scored a really great Flip cam interview with Trent Reznor on his way out the door.
Oh! You know times are tough when reporters actually get to sit at the dining tables instead of plating up at the pasta buffet three floors away. People-stalking-wise, this was great. Bone-in chicken chunk was not so much. If you didn't know that in 2008 the Webbys had two separate events (Webby video and film awards were held at the Skirball Center for Performing Arts) you wouldn't know that overall the event was much smaller this year. The combined winners, guests, and special invitations from both Web sites AND film and video was contained to the room that last year hosted only the site and advertising categories. It's an unfortunate reality that everyone is operating on a tight budget, which means fewer submissions at the beginning and then a purged entourage for winners travelling from afar -- hotel+tickets+meals aren't cheap.
Regardless, if the Webby organizers operated the show itself on a tight budget, you couldn't tell. Seth Meyers kicked the show's butt with zinging intros ("When Bush said he was Web-friendly, he meant he liked 'Spider-Man'" and "If I receive a text at 3 a.m., it better be someone who wants to hook up... and it better not be Joe Biden"-- in reference to our Internet President Obama), the champagne bubbled over, the wine was flowing from the vivacious waitstaff, and the open bar was never left alone. During the break I was able to congratulate Jonathan Feinberg of IBM Research for his best use of typography win for Wordle. As he walked away, my tablemate Lisa Wooldrige, of Webby Award winner Tourism Australia, said "I LOVE Wordle, I use it all the time!" Also at my table was Aubrey Sabala, Marketing Manager at Digg and Digg Chief Revenue & Strategy Officer Mike Maser. Mike is in love with keyboard cat and had me in tears with that stupid video loaded into his phone. Also at my table was freelance "live tweeter" for The Wall Street Journal Marissa Taylor, and Webby Winners for Extreme Sticky Note Experiment (Best Branded Content), Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz.
Most of the five-word acceptance speeches weren't anything to shake a bedspring at, but highlights from the award show for me were:
When Martha Stewart, draped in a "Hedwig And The Angry Inch" sparkly gold cape, got heckled for her lengthy introduction of how she planned to introduce Twitter's Biz Stone (who by the way accepted his award and then disappeared into the night) in 140 characters or less. "You're already over!" a buzzed woman in the audience yelled, which visibly flustered the usually unflappable Martha. She recovered and sternly reprimanded the heckler with a steel-piercing glare.
Beaker. Oh that's right, Beaker from the Muppets. I grew up on the Muppets, which shouldn't surprise any of you and Beaker came a close second to Gonzo, who is my puppet crush for life. Beaker's eyes glowed and his head smoked as his microphone shocked the stuffing out of him due to an electrical malfunction. His five-word acceptance speech? "Meep Meep Meep Meep Meep."
I know she pops into SNL like a driveby sometimes, but did anyone else think Cameron Diaz presenting Jimmy Fallon with his Webby for Webby Person of the Year was a little, well... off? I guess it pays to have the right friends. Next year the Webbys should have a contest where super fans get to present the awards to the winners.
Dick Bushman wins for best name and for best acceptance speech of "Erna will you marry me?" She said yes -- at least in front of everyone.
"I didn't kill newspapers, OK?" - Arianna Huffington. No worries, Arianna, we all know Craig Newmark did it.
The Victoria's Secret girls just standing there looking pretty. Their acceptance speech was... expected.
Boston Globe acceptance speech: "It's not journalism that's dying." Amen!
And really, how can I forget the Animoto strip tease? The dude who accepted stripped down to a bare chest and zebra print leggings, which he dug into and retrieved a red snarled wig and yelled "AAAAWOOO!! Thank you New York!!!" and kicked his suit pants off, clocking Animoto's Tom. My main concern about that is, was that wig in there all night? I told you it was humid, right?
At the afterparty, I caught up with Thrillist's Mike Rothman, Social Media Week's dancing machine Toby Daniels, the Digg crew, who were beginning to show signs of pending debauchery (and THANK YOU for keeping an eye on my bag!), Mashable's Brett Petersel, very good sport Roger Wu from KlickableTv, Ben Huh, who let me wear his cheeseburger hat (I hope he doesn't mind lice! I keed), and my favorite crew from the KING Advertising agency in Stockholm, who won a Webby with the Eco Dance. DJ Mike Relm was seen popping in and out of the crowd, too, but I didn't see Beaker, and I'll bet that guy has some moves.
Also, I used my own "Randomizer" to put 5-word acceptance speeches as captions. They are in no way quotes of the people in the photos. Thank you. Now you can't sue me, ha ha!