An exclusive inside look at the ACE Eddie Awards

This year’s ACE Eddie Awards were held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, a staple of these kinds of things due to its grand ballroom perfect for setting up a stage upon which prizes can be handed out. As I approach the lavish entrance packed with cars inching slowly forward, I suddenly realize I’m not at all prepared for the valet.

Let me explain: I was expecting to park my car in the garage myself, thereby allowing ample time to gather my things and put on my tie, but there’s a sign out front that reads, “Self Parking Closed.” While being a nice luxury, the valet does not allow for such fumbling around in your vehicle, and as the tuxedo-clad attendant approaches, I snatch up my things and dress myself before entering.

As I said before, the Beverly Hilton is a staple of these things, and it’s easy to see why: it’s a beautiful hotel, very tastefully decorated with nice wide-open spaces. The check-in table is the first thing I see, which means the night is off to a good start. I’m given my pass for the red carpet, as well as my ticket inside the ballroom to watch the ceremony. This will be complete with cocktails and dinner, which is really exciting considering it is almost 7pm and I haven’t eaten since lunchtime.

I find my spot on the red carpet: it’s a good spot. Not the best for photos, but there’s enough space for me to maneuver behind the bully paparazzi and take a few shots. The spot is ideal for interviews, however, provided the nominees want to stop and chat with me. I take my first snapshots on the carpet of a couple who I realize only too late are neither nominees nor presenters. Who they were and what they were doing on the carpet is a mystery to me, but this is their prom night, so who am I to judge?

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Here I am faced with my one true dilemma of the evening: the cocktails for which I’ve been given access to are happening at the same time as the red carpet. The cocktail lounge is a nice perk of the evening, something that isn’t just handed out to every journalist. It’s a sign that somebody up there likes me. I figure, hey, there’s an hour before dinner; I can do both. Besides, surely our readers would want to know what it’s like in there. So I take a couple of shots of Robin Leach with his entourage (you’ll remember him from “Lives of the Rich and Famous”) and head inside.

I’m lucky that I got here early before the crowds begin to form. It’s a lot easier to grab a drink this way. I chat with some fellow journalists I always see at these things about the season and our lack of sleep. I meet an apprentice editor currently working in reality TV and find out we live in the same neighborhood. These connections are important to make because you never know when an apprentice will turn into an ACE nominee. I want to get some shots of the bar but decide to wait until there’s a longer line to give it more dramatic effect.

I finish my first drink and duck back out to the red carpet in time to take some snapshots of presenters Matt Damon and Christopher Rouse (Oscar-winning film editor of “The Bourne Ultimatum” and last year’s ACE Eddie winner for “Captain Phillips”). It’s a little harder than I thought to squeeze between people, but I think I did pretty good. I head back to the bar thinking by now the crowd will be sufficient enough, and find a madhouse. Waiting for a longer line has now made it impossible to even get a shot of the bar! Serves me right for waiting. Yet I can’t brood for too long because I see the curtains are opening up revealing the massive stage, and decide to grab shots of that instead.

It’s now 8pm and time for dinner. I find my table and eagerly anticipate my upcoming meal. I’m seated at the table with Michael Ornstein, nominated for his work on “Madam Secretary,” and his wife Shannon Mitchell, editor of such shows as “Orange is the New Black” and “Californication.” Seated across from them is Scott Vickrey, nominated against Ornstein for “The Good Wife.” There’s a spirit of friendly competition between the two, both former ACE winners.

The waiter brings our meal and it’s a good one: first a serving of butternut squash soup with bread, followed by steak and fish, and peach crumble cake with ice cream for desert. I’m so hungry I forget to take pictures of the food. Plus I’m having such a lovely conversation with the folks seated next to me that it’s hard to focus on my job.

Now it’s time for the show to start. Mary Lynn Rajskub of “24” and “The Larry Sanders Show” fame is hosting, and she brings a light, funny tone to the proceedings that carries on to the presenters. The first one is Richard Linklater, who gives a shout out to his longtime editor Sandra Adair before announcing the winner for Best Student Editing.

Next up are Rene Russo and husband Dan Gilroy, writer and director of “Nightcrawler.” They’re here to hand out the awards for Documentary editing, and they make entertaining presenters, not least of all because Russo might be a tad drunk (but in a completely charming way).

Leach is also a highlight, commenting on Kim Kardashian’s thighs before giving the prize for Best Editing in Reality Programming, saying, “if you’ll believe what happens in these shows, you’ll truly believe anything.”

Diane Adler, known for her work on “The Rockford Files,” is given a career achievement award presented to her by her old friend and “Rockford” producer Chas. Floyd Johnson. Her speech is the shortest one, compared with fellow honoree Jerry Greenberg, whose speech is the longest. An Oscar-winner for “The French Connection,” he begins by reminiscing about his childhood in New York, which included frequent visits to Times Square. As a boy, he said, “I was fascinated by the various signs, and my favorite was the Johnny Walker Red Label Scotch one.” He went on to talk about his days toiling away as an editor on industrials and sports TV, and just when you thought he couldn’t possibly tie it all together, he brought it home with a story about his first job as an apprentice working under Dede Allen on Elia Kazan’s “America, America” (1963), where his office window was directly across from the Johnny Walker billboard. He had left a high paying job to work on the film, and this was a sign he had made the right decision.

Jeff Garlin then takes the stage, dressed in a bathrobe and boxer shorts, and joined by Claire Scanlon, Emmy-winning editor of “The Office” and one of the directors of “The Goldbergs.” “Somebody cancelled tonight,” Garlin said, “and Claire knows I like to spend my weekends at the Beverly Hilton. She asked if I could come down for a while, and I said, ‘for editors? Sure!” He then launched into a standup bit about the importance of editors that may have gone on longer than any acceptance speech, but was far more entertaining.

Chris Pratt came on afterwards to present the Golden Eddie Award to Frank Marshall, a five-time Oscar nominated producer (for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “”The Color Purple” (1985), “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Seabiscuit” (2003), and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008)) whose vast list of credits also includes the “Back to the Future” series, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988), and the Jason Bourne films. Yet the one Pratt couldn’t stop gushing about was “The Goonies” (1985), which was a source of great amusement for Marshall.

“I’m always disturbed by how much ‘The Goonies’ gets brought up,” he said upon accepting his award. He recounted his early days in Hollywood working for Peter Bogdanovich on “Targets” (1968), “The Last Picture Show” (1971), “What’s Up, Doc” (1972), “Paper Moon” (1973), and others, calling it “the best introduction to filmmaking I could have possibly had.” He talked about learning the craft of editing on those films from Oscar-winner Verna Fields (for “Jaws” (1975)), known affectionately as “Mother Cutter,” and thanked some of the great editors who have worked on his films, including Michael Kahn, Arthur Schmidt, and William Goldenberg. He then thanked his wife and longtime producing partner Kathleen Kennedy before going back to his table.

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Although the show is a lot of fun, I suddenly realize it’s running behind. We were supposed to be out of there by 11pm, but from the looks of it, it’s going to be a lot later. Thankfully there’s still plenty of wine at my table. Damon and Rouse come out to present the final two awards of the evening, and the star makes the observation, “am I the only one who sees the irony of the show about editors running long?” The awards for Drama and Comedy/Musical editing go to “Boyhood” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” respectively, thus giving “Birdman” its first guild loss of the season, and adding some extra excitement to the race.

As I leave the ballroom I run into William Goldenberg, Oscar-winner for “Argo” (2012) and nominee for “The Imitation Game.” I’ve interviewed him twice since I began covering the awards race, and he’s always a pleasure to talk to (look for my upcoming chat with him about his work on “The Imitation Game”). It’s late and we all want to go home, so I don’t take up too much of his time. All-in-all it was a fun evening, an entertaining show with a great meal, but not every story can have a happy ending: when I approach the valet’s desk, I’m given a $17 ticket for parking my car, and that’s at a discounted rate.

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