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Producers Guild inaugural Digital VIP awards find opulent setting

April 12, 2013|By Dawn C. Chmielewski

The Producers Guild of America honored nine people for their contributions to the advancement of digital entertainment and storytelling in an event held in the Bel Air mansion of entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The Digital VIP awards celebration attracted some Hollywood notables, including Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and Bill Westenhofer, the visual effects supervisor whose team at Rhythm & Hues won an Academy Award this year for work on "Life of Pi."

But it was an acrobat dubbed "Champagne Girl" who arguably received the most of the attention at Thursday's night celebration, dangling upside-down from a chandelier and pouring bubbly as the 100 or so guests snapped photos. 

Indeed, the whole event had the atmospherics of a Baz Luhrmann film.

Two women on stilts, wearing all-white Victorian costumes and wigs, greeted guests at the entry to the home and spread white rose-pedals at their feet. In the yard, another performer in period costume (adorned with wings) served champagne from a hoop skirt constructed of metal, while another sat perched above the guests in an opulent, elevated parrot stand.

The setting seemed oddly fitting for billionaire inventor Musk, who is said to have served as the inspiration for the suave, super-rich Tony Stark character in Marvel Entertainment's "Iron Man" films. The entrepreneur made his first fortune with the 2002 sale of PayPal to eBay, and now serves as chief executive of Tesla, the electronic car company, and of SpaceX, a private company that designs, manufactures, and launches rockets and spacecraft.

The Digital VIP showcased some of the ascendant talent from YouTube, including the comedians behind Epic Rap Battles of History, and singer-songwriter Mike Thompkins, as it  lauded innovators whose work at the intersection of entertainment and technology helped change storytelling. 

Among those receiving recognition were Bruce Sterling, the award-winning science fiction author and co-founder of the cyberpunk movement, for his influence on storytelling; Maker Studios executives Ben Donovan, Danny Zappin and Lisa Donovan, for constructing a digital network that attracts 3 billion monthly views, and Philip Atwell and Dylan Brown of Digital Domain for the Virtual 2Pac holographic concert experience, which helped redefine the possibilities of live performance.

A full list of recipients can be found here.

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