Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Smurfs Embed Handprints at Historic Hollywood Grauman's Chinese Theater Today

Pop Culture

Living in L.A. for more than three decades in the shadow of the land of show business, I never imagined I'd experience a Hollywood moment like this. Yet, against a natural California sky blue backdrop that nearly matched the color of the guests of honor, they were there in person: The Smurfs an animated creation beloved by kids (including me) for 50 years. Yes, Papa, Clumsy and Smurfette were all present today to participate in the legendary cement hand imprint ceremony at the historical Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

What a perfect tribute to honor Sony Pictures Animation.  To recognize all the talent that worked in front of and behind the cameras and microphones to bring us the hybrid live-action animated family friendly hit feature film The Smurfs first on the big screen and -- as of early December -- now on DVD as well as pushing new boundaries on Blu-Ray 3D with the Smurf-O-Vision second screen interactive experience.

Sitting in the Studio's roped off VIP section at the event this morning I had a front row seat to all that goes into this tradition that dates back to the year the magnificent Grauman's Chinese originally opened in 1927. More than 75 years after the first imprint was made reportedly by silent screen star Norma Talmadge who accidentally stepped into wet concrete at the then-new theater, it was an amazing experience to be there as history was made once again in real-time.

No doubt if you've read this far you are likely as curious as I was about what actually goes on at one of these Chinese Theater rituals. I mean this is really an unusual occurrence. To give you some idea: only 10 other imprint events like it took place here in 2011. So, without further adieu, here is the short story and some of my photos of the event today. 

Upon arrival at this red carpet outdoor event in front of the theater, three wet concrete squares in wood frames on slightly elevated platforms had already been set out, each blank except for "The Smurfs" at the top. Like at movie premieres held here throughout the year, event attendance was by invitation only, so the sidewalk was closed and barricaded in front of the theater.

The brief ceremony was rather intimate with under 100 people attending. The press box was filled with somewhere between 30-40 media covering the event, armed with all kinds of video and still cameras. Two other audience sections flanked the press, also with a birds-eye-view of all the action. 

On one side, there was a small group of very lucky and well-behaved 3rd and 5th grade students -- clasping brand new Smurf DVDs they received from Sony -- as they observed the historic moment. Then, there was a VIP area of invitees where about a dozen or so sat directly opposite the kids including some Sony people, friends of the Studio and another mommy blogger and I.

Following the usual ceremonial introductions, music from the movie's score accompanied the entrance of the Smurf trio, who were actually characters in costume. They brought along with them some special real people to assist them including Sony Pictures Animation President Bob Osher, Cast Member Anton Yelchin and Sony Pictures Animation Production President Michelle Raimo Kouyate. 

At the designated moment, The Smurfs embedded their handprints in the wet concrete slabs in front of each of them and then -- as is the custom -- posed with their handiwork giving the audience the famous palms up salute. Then, Osher, Yelchin (the voice of Clumsy in the film), and Raimo Kouyate stepped in to create the signatures of Papa Smurf, Clumsy Smurf and Smurfette, respectively. After that The Smurfs and their honorary helpers posed for a variety of photos much like you or I would at a special family occasion.

That in a nutshell is my perspective on December 13, 2011 in Hollywood History. My hope, through telling this story, is to share the thrill of this experience with readers.

About Grauman's Chinese Theater
Today there are more than 200 sets of footprints, hand prints, other impressions (Groucho Marx's cigar and Harry Potter's magic wand, for example), and autographs in the concrete in the outdoor court of Grauman's Chinese Theater. With sidewalk space on the premises getting scarcer each year, imprint ceremonies don't happen very often and are reserved for memorializing Hollywood's most influential entertainment stars. 

On a typical day when no special event is going on, it's fun and free to wander around in front of the Chinese Theater and look at all the show biz luminaries who have left their marks here over the decades. You can even get a free map showing the stars and celebrities who have left their impressions for posterity at this landmark tourist attraction.

Win a The Smurfs DVD
Hurry, Offer Ends 12/22/11 

Have you seen The Smurfs? If so, who is your favorite character and why? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

FTC Disclosure:  I was invited by Sony Pictures to cover this event as a VIP media member. MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this particular post. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one. 

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