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The Golden Globes

A booty call that brings showbiz folk running

Even the rich and famous go a little gaga over the ultra-opulent gift-bag swag.

January 17, 2005|Rachel Abramowitz | Times Staff Writer

Nicollette Sheridan didn't take home a Golden Globe Sunday night. But that doesn't mean the "Desperate Housewives" star left the awards weekend completely empty-handed.

On Friday morning, in the Biolage-Glamour magazine suite at L'Ermitage Hotel, Sheridan was getting her hair blown out by celebrity stylist Enzo Angileri, part of the orgy of free loot and services showered on Globe nominees and their assorted acquaintances. Under Angileri's hands, the actress' hair seemed to grow blonder and sleeker by the second, and a gaggle of publicists surrounded Sheridan, laughing like girls in the high school restroom.

Among the chatter: Sheridan's recent coronation atop Mr. Blackwell's list of the worst-dressed celebrities, an award another actress lower on the list was apparently trying to claim as her own. Sheridan, who arrived braless in a tight yellow Tweety Bird T-shirt, was tagged by Blackwell as the "Tacky Temptress of Wisteria Lane," but she seemed unruffled by the accolade and amused that someone would want to steal her thunder.

"He only picked on me because of that dress," Sheridan said of a particularly revealing outfit she wore at the American Music Awards. (She was far more demure at the Sunday ceremony, wearing a black velvet and chiffon dress by Valentino.)

In the days leading to the Globes, Hollywood turned into swag time, the golden hours when celebrities (and various publicists, agents and rarified hoi polloi) traipsed to suites in swanky hotels and got gifted and gifted and gifted. Even for the wildly overprivileged, there's something about free stuff that makes everyone just a little bit giddy. (Before her gratis blow dry, Sheridan picked up a no-cost diamond-and-platinum ring.)

The vibe at the freebie suites was part beauty shop, part boudoir. The specially invited clientele was definitely nouveau-famous: Inside were TV stars like Sheridan, Maggie Grace from the series "Lost" and Jamie-Lynn DiScala from "The Sopranos," who was getting her makeup done in another corner by the SWAT team from Armani. (When a celebrity chooses to wear Armani to an event, they can also opt for the full makeup treatment. As makeup artist Tim Quinn joked, "I'm like the gift bag.")

"Now when you're on Diane Sawyer, are you going to say, 'Hair by Biolage'?" one of the publicists asked Sheridan, who was about to go get interviewed by the TV diva. The publicist was joking -- at least about making the plug so blatant.

Indeed, the whole point of the swag suites is to get celebrities to wear products publicly, then mention them to reporters. The Biolage suite seemed relatively tame compared with a venture like the HBO Luxury Lounge at the Peninsula Hotel, where 20-odd marketers, including Kenneth Cole, Sprint, and Mystic Tan, shelled out $10,000 each for the right to shower celebrities with goodies.

Starting on Saturday, the bold-faced names were allowed to graze like diners at an all-you-can-eat buffet, leaving with an estimated $500 to $1,000 of product per vendor, said Britt Johnson, president of Mediaplacement, the firm that orchestrated the suite.

Back at the Biolage suite, a celebrity wrangler roped in an unsuspecting Alexander Payne, who was wandering down the hall on the way to a photo shoot.

"What is this?" asked the director and co-writer of "Sideways," a seemingly innocent babe in the celebrity machine. He demurred getting sucked in because of his appointment but promised to return. Twenty minutes later, he did, his co-writer Jim Taylor in tow, apparently amused by the whole beauty henhouse.

As one might guess from his movie, about a pair of schlubs on a wine-tasting tour, hair products aren't the first thing one would associate with the sardonic Payne. Although "Sideways" has apparently sent demand for the movie's preferred varietal, Pinot Noir, soaring 20% ("I don't get any of that," groaned Payne), it's hard to imagine that women (or the occasional man) might buy Biolage shampoo because the director's hair looks particularly shiny.

Still, the publicist asked them earnestly what hair products they used.

"I use Head & Shoulders," offered Taylor.

"I don't use anything," said Payne.

"We're virgins!" added Taylor.

The publicist began to pour products into tote bags for them, but Payne eyed the line of green leather saddlebags sitting on the top shelf. Only recognizable celebrities were supposed to get this luscious piece of booty.

"Can I have one of those?" he asked.

Even virgins lose their innocence quickly in Hollywood.

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