WE Do Good Awards, Espace, New York
November 16, 2010
When I got the invitation all I could think was, "they must have a copy editor over there to catch that" But then I thought, maybe it's just one of those sentences that looks awkward but actually is grammatically correct: "WE Do Good Awards" Right? It's awkward. More awkward was the actual event logo, whose word arrangement made it read "We volunteer Do Good Awards." But who can mince words when the real award (reward) comes before and after the self-congratulating: when people who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others get a little spotlight shone on their efforts.
The event was at Espace, which sounds like it should be an Internet bouncy house, but it's not. It's a space. Espace. The cocktail area was packed when I arrived with Frank Jania, Software Engineer from the island of Google. True to the theatre district I had just clomped through, the space had an Intermission-cocktails feel. Along one wall was the WE TV/Ladies' Home Journal red carpet of sorts where I spotted an Inside Edition camera crew while I stalked Andie MacDowell.
Speaking of stalking, there was a fellow outside of Espace who wasn't a guest. He had heard Christie Brinkley was scheduled to appear and he was waiting for her to arrive so he could nab an autograph. For his sake, I hope her appearance wasn't via pre-recorded message!
The cocktail hour was creeping into a cocktail two-hour, with coats emerging from the coat check one after the other as people split after exhausting their small talk reserves.
I was a little confused. The event was supposed to end at 8:30p.m. -- and if I know award shows, this thing was going to go way over if they didn't get cracking. To pass the time, I popped mini grilled cheese sandwiches and meat circles into my face. There were bowls of meat sticks, upturned mushrooms stuffed with cheese, and the unpopular chicken croquettes (I was offered the same bowl of sad little crispies a good five times).
Finally the purple-red sliding doors opened to reveal a glowing red auditorium space. A waiter man stopped me, "You can't go in there with that," he said, gesturing at my champagne flute. I bid it a fond farewell as I found a seat. An announcement boomed throughout the room for everyone to take a seat, ending with "you may bring your drinks in with you" I stared wistfully at my lonely champagne flute, discarded.
Sherri Shepherd was a fun host. She definitely made the sign language interpretes work. Her comments sounded genuine and she made me yawp-laugh when, after repeating a phrase on the teleprompter, she explained "my memory left with my placenta." I think we may be kindred spirits because she also threw a few jabs at herself for not seeing so well, but that regardless of how leopard-print-sexified they make reading glasses, she would not be wearing them. "I can't do the reading glasses, I haven't got my husband yet," she self-deprecated, "I went to Jay Z's club and it's just not sexy when you're dropping it like it's hot and your reading glasses fall out."
The night took a confusing turn when a perhaps exhausted or jet-lagged Kelly Rutherford awarded Travelocity's "Travelocity Travel For Good" to Charyn Pfeuffer, a travel writer who did something about the poverty she experienced outside the swank resorts she profiled by participating in The Global Citizen Project. Rutherford mumbled over "Pfeuffer", burbling that she really just wanted to say "Michelle Pfeiffer." Nothing like being an average Joe, making a difference in the world, and then having your name slurred over and opted out for a celebrity. It was a little awkward.
The "Women on Their Way by Wyndham Worldwide" award was given to Theresa Lucas, who was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a disorder that impedes her mobility but doesn't stop her from brushing out award-winning watercolors. By overcoming her own self-consciousness with her painting technique (she uses her teeth), she is able to show kids with AMC that their differences are special, not embarrassing.
The "WE Do Good Award" was given to Hilari Scarl, the filmmaker behind the documentary "See What I'm saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary" which follows four deaf performers -- comic, drummer, actor, and singer -- through their careers.
The night ended with a quick trip to the bathroom where, after I locked the door, a tiny jostle occurred at the door-handle location. This was followed by what I can only assume was a frightened person being chased by a pack of rabid beavers as a full body thump and door handle beatdown popped the lock out of its toilet privacy zone. I feverishly grabbed the handle to prevent my public terlit debut and screeched "IT WAS LOCKED FOR A REASON!!!" A scurry of retreating feet was my answer. I hope whoever that was escaped whatever bloodthirsty mob was after him.
Tonight I have a date with Brian Williams and the good people of the Ad Council. Perhaps I will see you there!