BET Awards LA

Last weekend in LA was all about the BETs. Rather than just the usual awards ceremony and after- parties, this year there was a whole weekend of events, parties and concerts (the BET Experience) leading up to the ceremony on Sunday.

I covered the red carpet at Debra Lee’s Pre-BET Awards celebration at Milk Studios in Hollywood on Saturday where Debra (Chairman and CEO of BET) hosted a dinner for stars including Nicki Minaj, Michelle Williams, Nelly, Jordin Sparks, Ashanti and lots more.

Everyone was in a pretty chatty mood with Michelle talking about a Destiny’s Child reunion, Blue Ivy, what she thinks of Kim and Kanye’s baby name etc.

Jordin as ever was gushing about Jason Derulo and talking about working with Whitney Houston on her last movie Sparkle and Omarosa Manigault went into great detail about her fiance Michael Clark Duncan’s death. Red carpet wouldn’t be my first choice place to talk about it but if it helps her cope, I suppose it must be a good thing.

After the red carpet, I dashed off to the Staples Centre where Snoop Dogg (he thankfully seems to have dropped the whole Lion thing), Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Miguel played to a packed out arena.

I missed the openers (J. Cole and Miguel) as I was running late but Kendrick Lamar was incredible. Maybe it’s because he’s a local guy or maybe he’s just fantastic but the atmosphere was insane and he totally got the crowd pumped for the main event.

Snoop was back to his Dogg best. Not only did he play all of his biggest hits, which even someone like me who’s not really into hip hop recognised. He also brought out a host of stars to sing with him including Dr Dre, Wiz Khalifa, Future and Ace Hood, to the delight of the crowd. Most of them were smoking spliffs on stage and one overeager fan sitting beside me tried to get involved by lighting up his own (and was soon told off by staff).

It also didn’t hurt that I had amazing seats thanks to a lovely PR. Although I couldn’t believe it when I saw the price on the ticket was almost $350! Who pays this amount for a gig?

Last up was the BET Awards themselves. As ever a lot of the main attractions (such as Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, Robin Thicke etc) didn’t do much press but there was still some good stuff.

Highlights had to be Nelly, who would only refer to himself in the third person during out interview. He was coming out with gems like ‘The thing about Nelly is’ and ‘Nelly’s gonna change the face of music’. It made my day it was so ridiculous. And when he told me his new album was going to be ‘off the chain’, I asked him to elaborate and he just said ‘OFF…. THE….. CHAIN’. Made standing on a red carpet for four hours totally worth it.

Also as someone who (wrongly) wrote off Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose’s relationship as a bit of a publicity stunt, I now take it all back. They were two of the nicest celebs I’ve ever met. She was so great, friendly and open and he was fantastic. He was incredibly sweet (which is not what you expect from someone who sings about getting high) and they couldn’t stop gushing about their baby son.

Snoop Dogg as ever was hilarious and just so charismatic. He’s just so chill, happy to chat to all the press and takes everything in his stride.

2Chainz was predictably wearing two massive chains and there was some serious bling going on the whole weekend. Chanel seems to be the jewellery of choice for rappers!

Only disappointment of the weekend was Columbus Short (Harrison from Scandal) who was rude, condescending and just an ass. Even though he was only a presenter and the weekend was really nothing to do with him, he couldn’t even bring himself to be polite. Who knows why he even stopped to do interviews. The usual rule applies here, the bigger the star, the sounder they are.

Anyway will post some of the more interesting quotes once I get a chance but in the meantime, enjoy my new favourite Wiz Khalifa!

 

 

Vodka party in Beverly Hills

On Tuesday I was invited to the Svedka Splash of Summer party to celebrate their new vodka flavours, Orange Cream Pop and Strawberry Colado.

The bash was held at an amazing estate in the Beverly Crest neighbourhood, high up in the hills over Beverly Hills.

The view alone would have made it worth the trip but the grounds were decked out with everything you need for a great party. Along with a DJ spinning awesome tunes such as my current favourite Blurred Lines and bars serving the new vodka flavours, there were also snow cones (made with vodka obviously), amazing canapes, giant jenga (for the big kids) and vodka bowling.

We seemed to have missed out on the orange dress code though as most of the celebrities there, including Julianne and Derek Hough, Gossip Girls’s Jessica Szohr and Rob Kardashian’s ex-girlfriend Adrienne Bailon, were all wearing the same colour.

Otherwise it was a mix of your typical LA scene, gorgeous model/singer/actor types, all standing around looking suitably bored and hoping a model scout, record boss or casting executive would spot them and give them their big break.

Thankfully my friend and I aren’t trying to make it in any of the typical LA industries so we had no qualms about acting uncool by smiling, dancing, drinking and the worst LA offence…eating! 

Back to LA and blogging!

Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! To anyone still reading this blog, major apologies for my lack of updates. I’ve been in Ireland for the past month or so just chilling out at home with family and friends and have been neglecting Hollywood Highlights.

However, I’m back in LA and back to blogging so expect regular updates.

I went for a hike in Runyon Canyon this morning to stave off the jet lag but was sad to see I missed a topless Colin Farrell there yesterday! To make up for my lack of posts, here’s a picture of Colin working up a sweat!

 

Colin Farrell working up a sweat in Runyon Canyon

Colin Farrell working up a sweat in Runyon Canyon

 

 

Little Green Cars at Troubadour

Little Green Cars have been getting a lot of buzz lately, winning rave reviews for their performances at festivals including SXSW and Coachella, not to mention all of those Mumford & Sons comparisons.

The Dublin five-piece – Stevie Appleby, Faye O’Rourke, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary and Dylan Lynch – are even signed to Glassnote Records, Mumford’s US label.

To see what all the fuss is about [and to support my fellow countrymen and woman], I decided to check out their gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles last night and was not disappointed.

I only knew a few of their songs beforehand but it really doesn’t matter with a band last this, you’ll still find yourself dancing along. With a set lasting about an hour they ran through all the tunes you’ll have heard of including The John Wayne, Harper Lee, Kitchen Floor and My Love Took Me Down To The River and many you haven’t.

While they are all talented musicians, this band’s main strength lies in the fact that they can all sing.

Highlights of the night were The John Wayne, which as probably their best known song got the entire crowd singing along and the finale when the entire band came down from the stage into the middle of the crowd for Consequences Of Not Sleeping. Stevie was the only one armed with a guitar, while the others showed off the group’s incredible harmonies for a stunning finish. Everyone left knowing we had seen something pretty special.

Little Green Cars at Troubadour

Little Green Cars at Troubadour

Stevie Appleby

Stevie Appleby

 

Celebrity spotting and an impromptu WeHo pub crawl

Some friends were visiting from London at the weekend so we went for lunch at Chateau Marmont

I’ve been there for a dinner a few times when I’ve had visitors as it’s one of those places that is just synonymous with Hollywood and celebrity spotting. The food is seriously good with, shock of all shocks in this town, large portions, and is surprisingly reasonably priced.

Clearly Sunday lunch is the time to go if you want celeb sightings though as there were well known faces everywhere we turned.

Selma Blair was working the room and seemed to be at yet another table chatting everytime I looked, Harold Perrineau (who despite more recent roles in Lost and Zero Dark Thirty will always be Mercutio from Romeo & Juliet to me) was having a low-key lunch with friends and Rob Kazinsky (Irish and Brits will know him as Sean Slater from EastEnders, for everyone else he’s in season six of True Blood) was also hanging out.

We then moved on to Pink Taco just in time for happy hour, where we ended up sitting beside Josh Henderson (Dallas’ John Ross Ewing), who was there with a group of friends but without his rumoured girlfriend Ashley Greene.

[The randomness of Hollywood, I spent last weekend sick in bed watching back to back episodes of Dallas and the following Sunday sitting beside John Ross!]

After that we spent the day checking out some other hotspots in West Hollywood. The Den might be my new favourite place and if you go, ask Travis the barman for his special Swedish lemonade [It definitely contains more vodka than lemonade but it tastes so good!]. We met a major Whitney Houston fan and ended up singing Whitney songs with most of the other customers! Rock and Reilly’s Irish Pub  is another Sunset Boulevard institution and we hit up The London before finishing up at one of my personal favourites The Standard.

Channeling Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is renowned for doing his own stunts, one of the most memorable is in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol when Ethan Hunt runs down the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. but you can check out some others here.

Next week I will be attempting to emulate Mr. Cruise by taking part in a Jack Reacher training day where me and some other (lucky/unlucky? I haven’t quite decided yet) journalists will be put through our paces by the stunt co-ordinators from the 2012 movie.

The email invite says..

‘Can you: Take out five guys simultaneously?

‘Chase down a suspect at high speed in a stolen car?

‘Disable your opponents in a brutal, no-holds-barred street fight?

‘No?

‘Then you need to come to the Jack Reacher training day!’

I highly doubt I’ll be able to do any of this after the day but the chance to head to a movie studio here in Los Angeles and be trained by some of the top stunt guys in the business is pretty exciting.

It also warns us to ‘wear comfortable clothes, preferably something you don’t mind getting blood on’. I really hope they mean fake movie blood and not my own but I guess all will be revealed next week.

I’ll post a review of my day afterwards…if I can move!

Check out the Jack Reacher trailer below

 

 

 

 

Sean Penn puts his angry man reputation in jeopardy!

He’s got a reputation as one of the angriest men in Hollywood so I was pleasantly surprised when I bumped into Sean Penn recently.

I was in David Arquette’s Bootsy Bellows nightclub on Sunset Boulevard in LA. Some pretty awesome friends managed to hook me up with VIP passes so I could take my sister, who was visiting from Ireland, on a proper Hollywood night out, and we ended up partying in the back room with Sean Penn just a few feet away.

Because I interview celebrities for a living, I’m not really one for approaching them when they [and I] are off duty but in order to give my sister a good star spotting story to tell at home, I decided to stop Sean for a chat as he passed by.

Luckily for us, we got the open, chatty, friendly Sean we rarely hear about rather than the scary, snarling man we all recognise from the tabloids! It probably helped that I didn’t mention I’m a showbiz journalist, didn’t launch at him brandishing a camera and that my sister is a teacher whose students are interested in the good work he’s doing in Haiti. Sean even introduced us to his friend, who turned out to be the President of Haiti’s son.

I only found out later it was the same day his son Hopper launched a shocking racist and homophobic attack on a photographer! Probably wouldn’t have approached him if I’d known!

Even though he’s a bona fide A-Lister, chatting to Penn was in no way the highlight of our night. Bootsy Bellows is such a fun club, mixing the weird and wonderful aspects you’d expect from David Arquette (puppets, dancers etc) with great music and a really fun crowd.

His co-owners were all milling around and seemed genuinely pleased that people were enjoying their night. It’s easy to see why this has become one of Hollywood’s hotspots after being open for less than a year.

And by the way the non VIP section is equally awesome, exact same set up minus the celebs but with the puppets, which range from Barack Obama to Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch. I’ll definitely be back!

Sean Penn arriving at Bootsy Bellows

Sean Penn arriving at Bootsy Bellows

Bootsy Bellows

Bootsy Bellows