Monday, February 12, 2007

"It's An Honor Just To Have Been Nominated"

That's what you're supposed to say, right?

And indeed, it was quite an honor for Franklin Avenue's very own Grammy nominee, Maria.

I, for one, am beyond proud of Maria. And if Evan/Blogger Toddler were old enough to understand, I'm sure he'd be full of pride for his mommy as well. (That's Maria and me, above, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the Pre-Telecast awards -- nearly 100 different categories! -- were passed out.)

It's been a career highlight for Maria to be recognized for her hard work in designing the Rhino box set "One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found." Leading up to the Grammys, Maria and her work were recognized by several magazines, which raved about the set's hat box-style design. Then came the nomination, and this weekend's Grammy events.

I really thought Maria was going to wind up on stage this afternoon accepting the Grammy. But I also worried about the real wild card among this year's nominees in the Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package category: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Above, the nominees in Maria's category flash up on the screen during the Grammy Pre-Telecast).

The Red Hot Chili Peppers members Flea, John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis and Chad Smith were all listed as art directors on their "Stadium Arcadium," and therefore up for the award in Maria's category. Would voters, unfamiliar with most of the names in the category, wind up picking the one group of names that they did know?

Apparently, yes. Star power won out, and "Stadium Arcadium" picked up the award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

Rhino Entertainment was actually nominated twice in the category -- the also-excellent "A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box" was also up for the Grammy. Above, the Rhino designers celebrate their non-victories.

I reminded Maria and her co-workers that Grammy doesn't always get it right: Witness the coronation in the late 1980s of Milli Vanilli as best new artist. (Granted, they later had to return their award). I also came up with an idea that I should pitch the Recording Academy: The non-winners suite. If you don't win, you oughta be directed to a special lounge where the booze is flowing freely and the party is hopping. And if you win a trophy, you're denied entrance.

I'd been to the Grammys before, but never as the date of a real-life nominee. To actually experience what it's like to be apart of an awards show -- the adrenaline, the excitement, the recognition -- was awesome. And I wasn't even the one nominated! It was obviously even more exhilirating for Maria.

Maria spent the morning getting her hair and makeup done, followed by putting on the new dress she had purchased during the holidays at the BCBG store at the Citadel. (In the meantime, I dropped Evan off with the sitter and bought Maria some good luck flowers.) Then it was time to test out the shoes (the black ones won out). After that, we hopped on the freeway and sped downtown.

The Pre-Telecast runs from 1:30 to 3:30, and it moves fast. We weren't sure when Maria's category was going to be announced; but just to be safe, we opted for the first decent parking lot we found -- and at $20, it was (gasp) a steal. (Another lot down the street was charging $50; later, when I headed back to drop something off in the car, I noticed our own lot had jacked up their price to $30).

We treked to the Convention Center, and discovered that Maria's category was fourth -- fourth! After a quick introduction from Recording Academy leaders, hosts Steve Vai and Miss Universe Zuleyka Mendoza began handing out the awards. After Maria's category was announced, we went back out into the lobby, managed to grab some wine and food right before the bar closed, and proceeded to hang out and people watch.

After a while, we decided to head over to the Staples Center. We got there early enough to stake out our seats and relax. At 5 p.m. sharp, The Police were officially reunited on stage (Sting's gotta work on those high "Roxanne" notes) and the Grammy telecast had begun.

Highlights: Gnarls Barkley, dressed as pilots, handling a reworked version of "Crazy." Mary J. Blige, belting out the sound as always. Prince, walking on stage unannounced and introducing Beyonce with just three words. And more.

Later, we drove over to the old St. Vibiana's cathedral for the Warner Music Group party. Stay tuned for more pics from that event.

And one more time, congrats to Maria. When you think about the sheer number of CD box sets (anything with more than one disc) that are released every year, it's already quite a feat to wind up as one of five projects competing for the Grammy Award. Like I told her, let's do this again next year!

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