As a Southern California native, I’ve frequented Hollywood more times than I can count. I lived in LA for most of my life and worked in Beverly Hills for many years, and as such, have experienced everything from celebrity encounters and shopping on Rodeo Drive to live performances at the Pantages and visits to many of the studios. Despite the fact that my time as a proper LA resident came to an end after my son was born, we still live close enough to get a weekly dose of the vibrant city at leisure.
Over the weekend, I was invited by Disney to spend three magical days touring Walt Disney Studios, getting an inside look at up and coming films, and covering the world premiere of Gnomeo and Juliet. Words cannot describe how amazing the trip was. Writing this post has been difficult as there really are so many layers to the weekend…and there are concepts I can’t yet speak of because of embargo restrictions. However, rest assured that as soon as I’m able to share with you the latest and greatest, I will. Consider this the beginning of the story that was my weekend. While I don’t typically chronicle blog events by day (so as not to bore you), I’m going to make an exception. However, I promise it won’t be boring!
In order to prepare for our scheduled interviews with the film’s talent, I previewed Gnomeo and Juliet on Thursday evening. I desperately want to tell you all about the film…how clever it is that the filmmakers took two seemingly unrelated concepts…garden gnomes and an epic love story…and combined them into a brilliant film about love conquering hate (in the words of Sir Elton John). Stay tuned! The film, which stars the voice talents of James McAvoy (as Gnomeo), Emily Blunt (as Juliet) Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Dolly Parton, and Hulk Hogan, follows the story of two garden gnomes, who just happen to be on opposite sides of a longstanding feud. It’s slated to be released on February 11th in 3D, perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day.
Friday evening, I headed to LA for our stay at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. It was a bit surreal staying in a hotel on Hollywood & Highland and something an LA native wouldn’t typcially do. But I highly recommend it! The highlight of the evening was an advanced screening of I Am Number Four. Many of us joked that we haven’t seen a grown-up movie in a very long time. I Am Number Four, slated for release on February 18th, is a suspense-thriller about “an extraordinary man who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him.” What ensues is a series of events that help him delve into his identity and abilities. All I’ll say is that I was on the edge of my seat throughout the duration of the movie.
Saturday morning, we headed to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills for scheduled interviews with talent from Gnomeo and Juliet. Despite the fact that I am no stranger to celebrity encounters, I was definitely wowed by the opportunity to speak with directory Kelly Asbury, James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, and Elton John. They were quiet complimentary of us bloggers and felt like our questions were appropriate and intelligent. Stay tuned for a thorough recap of those interviews with my full review of the film. After lunch and a photo with Marilyn, we headed to the Walt Disney Studios Lot for a tour of the property and some advanced previews and footage of upcoming films. 2011 is certain to bring a number of box office hits as Walt Disney, Touchstone and DreamWorks prepare to release Mars Needs Moms, African Cats, Prom, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, Winnie The Pooh and The Muppets. I shouldn’t say this too loudly, but we were one of the very first audiences to see Mars Needs Moms in 3D, a film that follows nine-year-old Milo to Mars to bring home his mom who has been stolen by aliens. Stay tuned for my review.
Sunday was the climax of our event-filled weekend. It started out with a surprise visit to Universal Studios Hollywood to tour the set of The Muppets. This may be the movie I’m most excited about, having grown up watching the Muppets as a child. The movie is still being filmed and we had an opportunity to watch as they shot one of the scenes in the studio. Once the photos we took with Kermit and Miss Piggy are available, I’ll be sure to post them! The Muppets are reunited this November when they learn that the Muppet Theater is to be destroyed to drill for oil. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, the Muppet’s biggest fan and his friends Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways.
If you look to the right, you might see a familiar face!
I’m haven’t attended many “red carpet” events so it was a privilege to attend as a guest of Disney. We dressed up for the World Premiere of Gnomeo and Juliet at the El Capitan and managed to see many of the film’s stars. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was the intimate performance of Crocodile Rock Elton John gave us at the end of the movie. Superb!
Have you ever wondered what happens at those private after-parties? Me too! Disney invited us to join the gnome-themed celebration at The Highlands. It was fun, casual, and filled with celebrities. You can check our Twitter stream for a complete list!
This post is simply the highlights of our weekend. There was so much that went on and I can’t wait to share it with you…when it’s the right time.
No compensation was received for this post. I was invited by Disney for the press junket and premiere of the film and received accommodations, meals, and product.
Photo Credit: Rockin’ Mama. All rights reserved.