In a recent Page Six interview I was asked if I missed hosting the pre-award Red Carpet shows. I said something like, "No, not the way they are now. If it was fun again, yeah, but now? Who wants to go back to the party just to clean up?"
Over the past few years, the Red Carpet shows appeared to have been on-life support; the edginess, the humor and the fun seemed to be fading away. The red carpet was turning into an area rug.
And then came COVID, and all of award shows and red carpet shows were relegated to Zoom presentations, with the stars coming to us from their own homes. And while the online shows are much appreciated (let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to judge the way movie stars live?), they’re nowhere near as good as the real thing.
One of the things missing in both the recent and Zoom Red Carpet shows is the air of unpredictability. Back in the day, when my mother, Joan Rivers, and I hosted the Red Carpet shows, we were given more room to roam, more opportunities to “be real.”
You never knew what would come out of my mother’s mouth, or come out of one of the stars’ mouths in response to her questions. My mom and I would play good cop-bad cop, like Detectives Reagan and Baez on Blue Bloods. She would ask stunning questions and I would take the edge off with my version of gentle banter.
What we did was sharp, edgy, unrehearsed fun. I miss that spontaneity, especially the wardrobe malfunctions — the nip slip, the unexplained stain, the focus-pulling bulge that one could only hope was a set of car keys.
But, lest you think I’m being a Debbie Downer — don’t pull the plug on the Red Carpet or donate the organs just yet! Because today, semi-post-COVID, there appears to be signs of life. Even during Zoom calls from home this past year, the idea of celebs dressing up for an award show wasn’t completely dead.
Fabulous stars like Regina King and Billy Porter took huge fashion risks and started bringing back the fun. (I can’t wait for the day when Billy Porter actually wears a red carpet to an awards show! “Billy, who are you wearing, Allen Carpets or Lumber Liquidator?”)
The first red carpet my mother and I did together was all about fun, and it turned out to be huge, not just for us but for the E! network, the movie studios and the designers as well. Not to mention the movie stars and celebrities.
The E! Red Carpet show became destination television. “Who are you wearing?” became a bigger Hollywood catchphrase than "Who are you doing?" or, "Who are you paying off?" or, "Who’s your plastic surgeon?"
One of the reasons my mother and I were able to have so much fun was that the celebrities' teams — publicists, lawyers, accountants, photographers, hairdressers, make-up artists, stylists, and in some cases, spouses, significant others or beards — weren’t hovering around 24/7, like flies near a dumpster. Their jobs were done, so they laid back and let the stars do their thing.
Good publicists know when to let their clients have fun and not turn the Red Carpet walk into the Bataan Death March.
But with the advent of social media all that changed, and now the celebrity teams are always there, all the time, just like that telemarketer who constantly calls to remind me of my expiring car warranty. I’m not begrudging the necessity of such teams in Hollywood (I have one of my own); it's their jobs to push a narrative, squelch a rumor, justify an arrest, make drug rehab sound like "a well-deserved rest due to exhaustion," or just make the stars look beautiful.
But I miss the days when those teams weren’t ever present and the stars were really "in the moment." For example, when a gorgeous screen goddess would schvitz like a pack animal because it was 104 degrees outside, or when an actress wasn’t aware she had lipstick on her teeth, or when an actor had lipstick on his collar ... the same lipstick that was on the teeth of said actress ... who is not his wife.
I can’t wait for the day the Zoom era ends and Hollywood celebrities, in all their style and glamor, will be joyfully walking the Red Carpets once again – alone, without their teams following behind them. And the recent trend of stars themselves posting glam pictures of what they’re wearing on awards nights tells me that that day may not be far off.
We may never get back to the days of Björk wearing a water fowl, but I do believe Red Carpet will be back!