Los Angeles Four crystal chandeliers dangle near the ground, waiting to be hoisted into place. Stacks of silver seat cushions sit in plastic-wrapped stacks apart from the chairs that need them. A series of plywood folding tables look decidedly unglamorous without their crushed taffeta tablecloths and fancy silverware.
Workers were busy Wednesday transforming the Shrine Exhibition Hall, a big empty space that looks like a giant basketball court without hoops, into one of the most elegant sites in the city, fit to welcome scores of A-list guests attending Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.
“It happens really fast,” says production designer Joe Stewart. “It’s like a whole lot of makeup on an old lady.”
With a soundtrack of drills and the occasional forklift, dozens of workers milled about the 34,000-square-foot space. Nearly 10 were on stage, screwing pieces into place on the art deco-inspired set. Others were setting up the show’s green room, where massive tool crates labeled “rigging,” “dollys,” “power tools” and “hardware” stood side by side. The floor was already covered in black carpet and the walls draped to match.
The hallway where winners will claim their statuettes still looked like an old concession area Wednesday, complete with popcorn machine. By Saturday, it, too, will be draped in black curtains, ready for its close-up.
Just as most of the actors attending the SAG Awards will spend extra time to look their best at the ceremony, so will the cavernous Shrine, Stewart says: “It just goes to show you that any space can look really good if you decorate it.”