Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Carpet Manners @ the Oscars 2011 - From the "F" Bomb to Firth Strong

Goodbye Bieber fever, tonight was all about Oscar fever! The pinnacle of awards shows arrived to crisp clear skies after a couple of days of freezing rain and in some parts SNOW here in Los Angeles. We'd been hearing for weeks about Anne Hathaway and James Franco's gearing up for Oscar hosting and couldn't wait to see what original fare they had up their sleeves. The start of the show featured a montage of the two stars in many of the year's biggest films √° la Billy Crystal. Coincidentally, Mr. Crystal wound up joining Anne Hathaway on stage to pay tribute to Bob Hope who apparently had hosted the Oscars for 18 years straight! Anne and James went on to find their groove as the night progressed poking fun and having fun with each other maintaining a rather light and breezy tone.

This year's awards show promised to be better than ever, engaging audiences both old and young with a slightly hipper and cooler feel. It was also being touted as one of the most interactive awards shows in history taking advantage of new social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook and streaming live video to keep audiences up close and personal. The official theme for the evening was "You're Invited" and I think the young hosts did a great job of making all of the nominees, presenters and other guests feel warm and welcome. Here are the "Red Carpet Manners" highlights that left the biggest impression.

Young Host Chemistry. For a first effort and for being the youngest duo to host the Oscars, Anne Hathaway & James Franco tried their best to make it look effortless. Whether they had the best chemistry or were actually "besties" (as in best friends) remains to be seen. Although they were splitting duties, Anne really held the show together with her upbeat energy, huge smile and thrilled-to-be-here attitude. James was not quite as accessible and often appeared to be looking off into the distance rarely making eye contact with his fellow host. Nevertheless, he was a good sport and gave the evening a couple of good laughs when he dressed in a white unitard for a spoof on the "Black Swan" and when he appeared onstage in a full-length pink gown and blonde wig. Anne was charming and showed off her singing chops as she brought the house down while belting out a familiar Broadway tune. She donned seven different outfits for the occasion and confidently smiled and laughed her way through the show.

Unpredictable Presenters. Kirk Douglas (who is 94!) received a standing ovation as he took the stage to announce the Best Actress category. I don't think anyone could have predicted how hysterically funny he was going to be flirting with all of the leading ladies and virtually taking forever to announce the winner of the category. It was like the final moment where they announce the winner of American Idol.

Dropping the "F" Bomb. Not even a solid 30 minutes into the show, the party loosened up quite a bit when winner for Best Actress, Melissa Leo, in all her excitement, accidentally dropped the "F" bomb. Luckily the producers saw it coming and were able to bleep out the expletive in good time. The accidental blurt went on to become a topic of conversation for many other winners throughout the night from David Seidler to Christian Bale. The sound bite will go down in Oscar history and is guaranteed to be remembered for years to come.

Demand Respect. Aaron Sorkin picked up the win for Best Adaptation of a Screenplay for "The Social Network" and thanked a laundry list of people including all those who had worked with him over the years, his parents, director David Fincher, Sony, Scott Rudin and the cast and crew of the film. Before he concluded, he gave a shout out to his daughter, Roxie, and insisted that her guinea pig finally show him some respect (now that he was an official Academy Award winner!)

A Night for Late Bloomers. David Seidler, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and who was a former stutterer himself, spoke eloquently thanking his children, the producers, the director, the cast and Her Majesty, the Queen for not putting him in the tower of London for using profanity. He accepted the award on behalf of all the stutterers in the world exclaiming, "We have a voice, we have been heard thanks to you, the Academy." A meaningful moment for all those who suffer from speech disorders.

Accidental Blurts or Intentional Blunders. In addition to Melissa Leo's fumble, a few others took a spill. Here are our top few: Christian Bale exclaiming, "Bloody hell, what the hell am I doing here?" upon winning for Best Supporting Actor. James Franco calling the winners of the Scientific and Technical Awards, "nerds" during his hosting duties. Anne Hathaway flubbing her lines as she introduced Sandra Bullock and then advised the audience to "take a drink at home." Her professionalism just flew out the window.

Leave Your Cheat Sheet at Home! The Academy went to great lengths to make sure that the nominees were well-prepared for their acceptance speeches. Tom Hanks narrated the DVD's that were sent to each nominee specifically mentioning to leave the little white pieces of paper at home. Apparently, Colleen Atwood, winner for Best Costume Design and NYC filmmaker, Luke Matheny, winner for Best Documentary must have mistakened the DVD for junk mail and tossed it into the garbage. Poor Mr. Matheny should have taken his own advise to get a haircut. He looked like a shaggy dog.

Check Your Sea Legs. As expected, Colin Firth, gave one of the most articulate acceptance speeches of the evening, but not without making several hysterical references having to do with butterflies in the stomach and uncontrollable dancing legs. He expressed his gratitude and received a few hearty laughs for touting himself as an early child sensation and for his fleeting delusions of royalty. When it seemed as if he couldn't contain his excitement any longer, he politely said to the audience, "If you'll excuse me I have some impulses I have to attend to backstage." With the British, courtesy always comes first.

Honorable Mention. We must take this opporunity to say that Miss Natalie Portman fully redeemed herself last night by delivering a polished and poised, emotional acceptance speech. She has had an amazing year and we wish her every happiness!

Oscars 2011 ended with a rousing rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" sung by the P.S.22 Chorus students from Staten Island who flew all the way out to Los Angeles for the show. It was a tug at your heartstrings moment that kicked into high gear when all of the night's winners were invited to stand on stage with their Oscars and join in the chorus. It was one big happy family and you could just feel the love in the room.

Beverly Hills Manners offers a variety of etiquette classes for both children and adults. The next available class is "Young Ambassadors Etiquette" (for children) to be held on Saturday, March 12, 2011 from 10:00 am until 1:30 pm at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. For reservations, please contact Lauren Breuning at 310.858.2382 or

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Carpet Manners @ The Grammy's 2011 - Volume & Vigor

I’ve been a lover of all things music since I can remember. I had a huge collection of 45’s with all the hits and would dance around my bedroom singing every lyric word for word. As I grew older, I tried my hat as a singer for a stint during college and a bit after performing in cabaret clubs here in Los Angeles. My first internships and jobs were in the music industry from MTV and KROQ to Capitol Records and Priority Records. My musical tastes range from Classic Rock to Alternative and Rap. When I want to relax and unwind it’s with Smooth Jazz or some Light Classical. I can appreciate a good Elton John or Temple of the Dog ballad in the same way that I can get excited over the latest Jay-Z or Drake. So watching tonight’s lineup of musical superstars was not a chore, it was pure enjoyment! One thing’s for sure, musical personalities are big, brash and bold and they do not disappoint. They make for good entertainment and loads of commentary, especially, when they break the rules of decorum and don see-through or meat inspired attire. Let’s take a look at tonight’s highlights and low points as we bring you our latest Red Carpet Manners at the Grammy's.

The Same Old Song. There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding tonight's performance by Lady Gaga. Arriving in an iridescent egg carried Cleopatra style, Gaga was said to be "incubating" until showtime. So when she finally cracked the egg we were expecting nothing short of spectacular. Instead, what we discovered was an updated version of a mysteriously close sounding rendition of Madonna's "Express Yourself." Did Gaga think of contacting the Material Girl beforehand to formally ask her permission? The whole thing just sounded a little too close for comfort. It is perfectly fine to admire one's work, but outright duplication is difficult to forgive.

Angry Much? With eyes bulging and veins popping, you'd think Eminem had plastic surgery to keep the perpetual angry look on his face. His music is highly-regarded, but his relentless themes of hard knocks and violent acts is exhausting to watch. Does this guy ever smile? Yes, he seemed appreciative and sincere during his acceptance speech, however, I could not get over how much he resembled the crazy brother, Albee, in "Big Love." That is one creepy fellow and Eminem is following suit. We get it, it's part of your act, but lighten up a bit dude!

The Animals are on the Loose. MTV pulled out all the stops giving Snookie an opportunity to host on the red carpet. A rare moment found her interviewing a leopard-inspired Nicki Minaj complete with a bride-of-Frankenstein up do. With mikes in hands and mouths basically uncensored, the girls were free to banter back and forth. Unfortunately,the Jersey Shore and Queens boroughs were not far behind as they creeped into the conversation removing any trace of sophistication or class.

The Greeting Committee. The evening's most awkward greeting went to Matthew Morrison and Ryan Seacrest during Matthew's interview on the red carpet. Matthew went in for a shake with a simultaneous man hug that went awry and left Ryan in the awkward position of figuring out how to respond and make it look cool. The whole thing backfired in my opinion which is why we advise to stick with the simple handshake with two pumps and leave the more fancy interpretations when millions of eyeballs aren't watching.

Easy on the Gyrating. Rihanna and Drake turned the heat way up for their performance of "What's My Name," which would have been great for the AMA's or VMA's, but the Grammy's, not so much! The very explicit gyrating motions that Rihanna is known for pushed the limit and I am guessing that Neil Portnow, President of the Academy, received some flack for it. Don't even get me started on Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy Money, whatever his name is this week's introduction. Did he just get a mouthful of braces? He could hardly speak! It was a toss up as to who was a worse speaker, Diddy or Kris Kristofferson who also sounded like he had a mouthful of cotton.

Young Ambassadors. Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith's performance of "Never Say Never" was professional, clean and polished. No profanity or crotch holding necessary, these two young talented, teenage heartthrobs are dedicated with a tremendous work ethic and drive. They are not only adorable, but they are truly positive role models for children today.

The Grammy's are over and we are exactly two weeks away from Oscar Fever. The new young hosts of this year's show, the lovely Anne Hathaway and equally impressive James Franco, promise to breathe new life into what can often be considered a rather stodgy and stiff affair. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

“Manners Maketh the Man” – What Women Really Want on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and women everywhere are contemplating what February 14th is going to look like for them. First of all, they are wondering if their significant other has even bothered to remember the date on the calendar and, secondly, if they actually took the initiative to make a special plan.

This holiday brings with it a tremendous amount of pressure for couples, expectations are high and when they’re not met, it can be a recipe for disaster. Even if your lady is the low key type who just wants to kick it at home with a casual dinner for two on the sofa, make sure you find an appropriate way to make her feel valued and appreciated. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much money you spend (although we do appreciate a gift of tasteful jewelry on such occasions), it is about the quality, effort and time you invest in making us feel special.

Men, take heed, especially on Valentine’s Day, women want you to step it up a notch, pull out all the stops and act like our princes in shining armor. So if there was ever a perfect time to whip out your good manners, I think a day that celebrates love would be it!

To help you better navigate these tricky waters to discover what women really want, here are a few expert tips.

Make Dinner Reservations. Most women want to be wined and dined on Valentine’s Day. They want to get dressed up, feel sexy, relax and enjoy the evening with their significant other. It is always safe to make a couple of reservations at different restaurants so that you have a choice. Alert your lady with a heads up as to the appropriate attire so that she is not over-dressed or under-dressed for the occasion.

Be a Romantic. Valentine’s Day is all about romance. If you are going to send flowers, make sure they are tasteful, not cheesy. If you buy a box of chocolates, double check to see if she is dieting that week, if she’s been crazy busy and in need of a little R&R, plan a his and hers massage or a weekend getaway. Remember the more consideration you put into this, the more romantic it will seem.

Give Some Thought to the Card. Men, listen up! Women read into the card big time!! Do not hold back in this area. Feel free to express your undying love and gratitude for the fantastic woman she is. You can choose a funny card or a serious card, but add at least a few lines of original text. Whatever you do, make sure that your closing includes the actual word “love” or you may find yourself spooning your pillow on the couch!

Get Rid of the Technology. If you are a very important man with a very busy job, try to break away from the phone and the computer to unplug for the evening and give your significant other the time she deserves. Trust me, your work will still be there in the morning and you deserve a night off too!

Turn on that Chivalrous Behavior. Arrive on time to meet us, help us with our coat, open the passenger door to the car, walk curbside, pull out our chair at the table, pay for our dinner (note: this is not a good time to go dutch!), make pleasant conversation and take a sincere interest in what we have to say. Honestly, this is the most appealing quality of all and will guarantee fun is in store later on in the evening.

Finally, what we are really looking for is the perfect man on Valentine’s Day (and every day for that matter.) Someone who is charming and chivalrous, yet has an air of mystery and is able to catch us off guard. We want our men to be confident and well-mannered, yet we want them to be passionate and unpredictable (in the good way.) We want them to be driven and independent and allow us the opportunity to spread our wings and fly. Bottom line, women can be a tad demanding, we require a smidge of finessing and we are certainly not easy to deal with, but we love our men and we appreciate them most when they just try to “get us.” Good luck gentlemen!!