Erin Fox, who edits TVGuide.com sister sites TV-Now.com and JumptheShark.com, is in Los Angeles this weekend for the SAG Awards. Here's her report on the show's last-minute preparations.
The Screen Actors Guild turns 75 this year; a year that's seen halted productions, striking writers, terminated studio deals and most recently, the tragic deaths of Brad Renfro and Heath Ledger. However, everyone buzzing around the famous Shrine Auditorium is intent on making this year's only red-carpet, star-powered awards show one for the books. This includes several special tribute packages that celebrate actors from the last 75 years, and an especially moving tribute to SAG members who passed away.
When I asked the show's producer, Kathy Connell, if there has been a last-minute scramble to create a special tribute for Heath Ledger, she was quick to point out, "We lost so many people this past week [including] Brad Renfro, Suzanne Pleshette, Lois Nettleton... and we've lost so many legendary actors over the year. You'll see just how many [appear] in our tribute piece."
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Charles Durning, most recently seen as Denis Leary's father on
. Kathy gushed about Charles, saying, "He's the best! He's been in over 200 movies and has worked with every single person. I think it's really wonderfully special to have a character actor who represents the membership as a whole, and has had so many varied parts [receive this honor] in the 75th-anniversary year."
Another part of the SAG Awards is its online auction held to benefit the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. TVGuide.com spoke to the lovely and legendary film and TV actress Shelley Fabares (
) about her involvement with the auction and the foundation's goals. Petite and lively, with bright pink streaks in her hair, Shelley spoke passionately about the foundation giving back to SAG members in need of financial and medical support, as well as several programs like BookPALS, where actors drop by schools to read to children. Shelley said, "The auction has many exciting items" and that she and her team work on procuring backstage passes to awards shows, as well as signed scripts, wardrobe pieces and DVD gift sets. She added, "It's really great stuff, but it's all really affordable for people, too."
SAG nominee and presenter Nikki Blonsky is most excited about being reunited with her "family" of cast members from
. "I'm so excited because both of my movie parents will be here - Christopher Walken and John Travolta - and I get to sit right next to both of them. So the Turnblad family will be in the house!"
So now that the tables are set, the actors have rehearsed their introductions, the seating charts have been nailed down... what is Kathy looking forward to watching the most tonight? "I don't know. It's a live show!" she shrugs. "Anything can happen! I can't wait to watch it unfold." Neither can we. -
Erin Fox TVGuide.com's Screen Actors Guild Awards coverage:
Live show recap and news blog