CGee's G'Day Gala Report
My friend Shirley and I had a great time at the Penfolds Gala the other night! What follows is as close as I can remember without benefit of having the exact quotes.
The red carpet was held indoors
right opposite the doors to the room where the gala was held. Where
we stood we could see everyone descend down the escalator to round
the corner to the carpet. Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts looked
The person everyone seemed to be waiting to see was Russell.
All of the others got some warm and generous applause but that
paled in comparison to the buzz in the room and the reaction when
Russell came down the escalator and into view. Even though we were
getting shooed into the auditorium because of the time, most stood
their ground to see him walk the red carpet. He looked great, and
although the tweed overcoat was a surprise, it really looked good,
in a currently
Richard Wilkins was a good MC. He announced many of the prominent people in attendance which came in handy for us because we were seated in a table far in the back and it was not possible for us to see where Russell and the others were sitting. We were on an elevated level and couldn’t see the tables in front of the stage. Two huge screens on either side of the stage allowed us to see better what was happening. Richard kept the evening moving at a lively pace.
All of the honorees had a selection of clips from their various careers shown on the big screens. The scenes they showed of Steve Irwin’s life were especially poignant but bittersweet. I have to say in each case they picked great examples and sometimes not the obvious ones which allowed you to appreciate their body of work from a different perspective.
John Travolta introduced Terri. He talked warmly about Steve’s enthusiasm and his commitment to wildlife. When Terri came on stage, again her emotions seemed very close to the surface but she gave a wonderful speech expressing her gratitude for being named an Ambassador for Australian tourism.
John Polson gave Naomi her award and he was the funniest speech of the evening. It was witty and personal, highlighting his history with her. He started by saying that he had to be the only person who has made out with both honorees, Russell and Naomi! Naomi’s acceptance was touching and she choked up talking about her agent with her this evening who was the first to give her a chance at 19 years old.
Michael Mann introduced Russell. He said many wonderful things about him and his theme seemed to concentrate on Russell’s ability to morph into a character and said something like it was at a danger and at great cost to him because he always left/lost a part of himself in the effort.
Russell then took the podium. The first
joke about his public presence being ‘a danger’ was delivered
with humor and received as such. From what he said, the interview
with Nicole should be interesting, and teasingly funny in parts.
He talked about the debt he owed
After the ceremony was over, we lingered in the lobby. Cate Blanchette and Naomi were standing talking to friends and then appeared to leave. We didn’t see Russell at all so we wandered back into the auditorium and stood on the elevated part overlooking the more lower area where he and the other invited guest had been seated in front of the stage.
I spotted Russell, who was doing what I’ve seen him do many times – inch by inch he was making his way out, talking to anyone who would approach him, signing autographs and taking photos. This is what I admire about Russell – he seems to try to do what he feels would be appreciated in the circumstances. He gave everyone who approached him his full attention be it someone looking for an autograph or photo or someone who had a point to make in a brief conversation. It was a long evening and in spite of that he still gave people a bit of his time.
All in all it was a really fun evening.
We had a great table with interesting people to talk to. Four countries
were represented – Scotland,
Oz, US, England and we had some spirited conversations along with
great wine and a delicious meal.