Welcome to Hollywood!’ is what the locals here say when you arrive – and wow, there isn’t anything quite like the welcome you get when you arrive in Los Angeles during Oscars week.
I’ve been to LA twice before, but this was a whole different ball game.
A TV production company I’d worked for before asked me to be both producer and presenter on some reports from the Oscars. It was all very last-minute, so it was a question of packing my best dresses and leaving home in Portsmouth to head for the airport for the flight to LA.
We (that’s my sister Michelle and me) arrived on Thursday evening American time and the trip didn’t get off to the best of starts. Our driver, who was also our designated cameraman for the whole five days, was held up in the studios sorting out equipment for the weekend.
So me and Michelle (my very glamorous ‘assistant’) had to wait in LAX airport for the TV director to come and get me herself.
We checked in to the beautiful four-star Hyatt Regency Plaza hotel in West Hollywood before being whisked out for dinner.
By this point I’d been up almost 24 hours and needed sleep, but schmoozing called so I ordered a few Mojitos and got on with it.
On Friday I managed to blag myself into a pre-Oscar luncheon party, but my cameraman didn’t turn up! I still don’t know what happened to him, but I had a few choice words to say.
He made me miss an interview with Jodie Foster at the Beverly Hilton, so you can imagine I was less than impressed.
He got a quick lecture on how to get by in this business and we moved on.
Luckily for him, we bumped into Kris Jenner (Kim Kardashian’s mum) in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel and it instantly lifted my mood when she agreed to pose for a pic (below) with me.
I admit I got really starstruck meeting her, which is ridiculous. But there was something about her ‘aura’.
She’s one powerful mama and I just felt a tad, well, intimidated.
Another highlight was meeting up with Missi Pyle, one of the stars of The Artist that was to pick up five Oscars.
We spent some time over the weekend filming ‘GVs’ (general views) of LA and Hollywood, trekking to the top of Griffiths Park so we could see an aerial view of LA, visiting South Beach and filming outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
If you’re thinking of holidaying out here, don’t even consider it if you have any body or image issues.
If I actually thought about the difference between how I look and act compared to some of the locals, I wouldn’t have left my hotel room.
They are tall skinny, blonde, wear designer shades and suits and carry Ralph Lauren bags, whereas I’m tiny, brunette, wear H&M clothes and literally carry my things in an Asda bag if they don’t fit in my handbag. When I say I stuck out like a sore thumb, I really mean it.
Add in the British accent and I was about as at home as an alien.
On Saturday we got access to film at a Gifting Suite, which is literally a hotel suite full of gifts – seriously. Celebrities in attendance included Shane from TV series The Walking Dead, who spoke in the most beautiful Southern drawl that made me go weak at the knees.
I spent time filming, interviewing – and grabbing as much free stuff as I could. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I walked out of that very posh hotel with a garbage bag (yes, a garbage bag) full of freebies. Only in LA!
And then came Oscar night on Sunday. The big one. I tried and failed to get into Elton John’s party, but that meant I ended up at The Night of 100 Stars, the next best Oscar event to the Academy Awards themselves.
In the end, there must have been 200 stars there. It was fantastic, although it brought out my bad side as some reporters and camera crews are pretty hard-nosed when it comes to red carpets.
I admit to almost having a fight with a Hungarian cameraman who thought he was going to nick my spot.
No chance. ‘Do you know I’m from Portsmouth?’ I felt like saying to him.
He ended up having to find another patch because I wasn’t going to let him near my area!
We were there for more than four hours and it was exhilarating to be part of it, but very tiring.
Then it was back to the hotel to grab some sleep before boarding the plane back to the UK.
Reflecting on my time in LA for the Oscars, I can honestly say I loved all of it. It’s been one hell of an experience.
But you know what? After all that excess I couldn’t wait to get back home to Pompey, snuggle up on the sofa with my partner Matt and order in a takeaway. That’s the real Cheryl Gibbs.