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02/22/05 GM INTENSIVE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Mar 7, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Jon Heder - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

GM INTENSIVE

By JOHN GRAFMAN

"Don't rain on our parade" could be this year's theme. General Motors won't let a little flooding interfere with what is now regarded as one of the most spectacular automotive events where the limelight is shared by celebrities and automotive icons.

As the momentum builds in anticipation of this year's GM Ten, the weather becomes an issue like never before. The drive up the Golden State freeway takes longer than any other time in recent memory. Bucket loads of rain tumble from the heavens and potholes emerge that are nearly enough to swallow small cars. This is one time that camping out close to the venue is not just a good idea but also a necessity. The affair is held at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, so it only makes good sense to take in the Hollywood lifestyle with accommodations that are fitting.

Cadillac Sixteen

We find the Mondrian to be just the ticket. Residing directly across the street from the House of Blues, the location of the Mondrian is perfect. This location puts us in striking distance of the party just a few miles away without dealing with the uncertainty of the traffic or weather. Besides, drinking and driving is like asking for trouble. Keeping our destination within a short cab ride isn't a bad idea.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Mondrian hotel, the setting is a chic, clean look that is somewhat reminiscent of a modern museum or art gallery. The lobby offers the first clue that this is not the typical hotel. From the elevators to the seating, every aspect is special and clever. A quick scan of the patrons in the hotel lobby and I definitely know that we aren't in Kansas. It looks like everyone is a somebody in this place.

The Mondrian

The rooms indulge in the white theme that carries throughout the Mondrian. The layout and expansive windows produce an impression of a room of oversized proportions. Originally starting life as an apartment building, the creative solutions in design add an element of uniqueness to the floor plan.

Perched atop of Sunset boulevard allows this establishment to offer its guests perhaps the most spectacular views of the Los Angeles area. The day after the rain parted left the air quality crystal clear. The view of L.A. never looked so good as from the Mondrian. And if anyone needs any more convincing, the Skybar, one of the city's most noted hot spots occupies the patio area.

The Mondrian

The hotel is remarkable for more than just its physical aspects; the staff treats guests like old friends. The attitude, or maybe I should say the lack of attitude, on the part of the staff gives us a reason to become acquainted and return in the future. They understand customer retention is not just the domain of the auto industry.

After sprucing up at our suite, we head out to what could only be described as the Southern California alternative to the Pebble Beach Concours. This has pageantry and a regal air, but in a trend-setting Hollywood way. The attention to fashion and style is what makes this event incredibly memorable. The GM Ten is about looking good and feeling good. The General does a spectacular job of engraving those impressions into our brains.

Daisy Fuentes - Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage.com

I almost sympathize with the stars that have to make there way past the mob. This mob carries no guns, but the media mob is notorious nonetheless. A hundred or so camera and sound toting journalists from every imaginable outlet hound the stars like wild animals going after prey. Shouts and catcalls are ongoing and even embarrassing. Some stars slip in the back way while others like Daisy Fuentes are as cordial as can be. The limited room on the red carpet allows precious little space for a video packing cameraman. With a bit of bumping and tempers drawing short, I thought we might see a fist or two fly. Of course that wouldn't distract too many form the real entertainment.

In the space of just a few short hours, we start wondering if there are any A list stars that are not attending, but it seems that the entire entertainment industry is here to soak up the fun. Being around such amazing cars more often than most, I am perhaps a tad jaded towards them as compared to the likes of say Jamie Foxx, Allison Janney, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Wesley Snipes, David Spade, John Stamos, and David Schwimmer. GM brings together stars of the silver screen, the little screen, music and sports for an evening to celebrate the best.

Overhaulin's Courtney Hansen

The fashion show consists of a runway (freeway) with celebrities escorting down a selection of GM's exciting product offerings and one-off customs. The stars are adorned in designer attire and the autos themselves are, of course, fashion statements. The famous look their part in fashions provided by Oscar De La Renta, Robert Cavalli, Calvin Klein, Valentino, Christian Dior, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, John Varvatos, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Elie Saab, Zang Toi, Dolce & Gabbana. The incredible adornment is the icing on the cake. The clothes do make the man, and the designer wardrobes only further accentuate the dazzling looking ladies.

On the massive catwalk along with the stars are machines that express not just a way of getting from point A to point B, but these vehicles are a way to reflect much more about life. GM has on hand the '53 Chevy Corvette, a '67 Chevy Camaro and a custom '41 Chevy Coupe for a retrospective on past achievements. Offsetting this is a glimpse at what could be with the Cadillac Sixteen Concept, Cadillac Cien Concept, Chevy SS Concept, Buick Velite Concept, and the Pontiac Salsa Show Car.

Caroline D'Amore - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

Balancing the past and future is the present being represented by a custom Cadillac XLR, H2H, Pontiac G6 Convertible, a custom Saab 9-3 Convertible, the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, the Saturn Sky, a custom Buick LaCrosse, Saab 9-7X, Cadillac STS-V, the popular H3, a custom Chevy SSR, and a Chevy Kodiak Pickup by Monroe Truck Equipment.

With a rousing stage presence, the show takes on a feverish level of excitement. While the models and celebrities on stage are amazing, the audience is also A list caliber with Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Dean Cain, John Salley, Kaley Cuoco, Orlando Jones, Dennis Hopper, Kelly Hu, Kip Pardue, Peta Wilson, Ione Skye, Kimberly Stewart, Nick Canon, Tori Spelling, Quentin Tarantino, Dax Shepard, Derek Luke, Camilla Belle, Penny Marshall, Shane West, Nicole Eggert, Flex Alexander, Chris Kattan, Eduardo Verastegui, Michelle Rodriguez, Rachel Hunter, Tony Kanal , and more all hovering ringside to bask in the fun. The famous faces at the event share something with those of us who happen to be less so; we all know a good thing when we see it.

Ashton Kutcher & Demi Moore - Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kabmouris, WireImage.com

Again GM pulls no punches in having recent Grammy awarding-winning artist Kayne West perform after the fashion show concludes. Keeping up with the trends is of vital importance to an auto manufacturer and it shows. The entertainment really goes into overdrive as Jamie Foxx also jumps up to accompany him onstage.

The invitees, cars, music, cars, fashion show, more cars, and celebrities all came together to create a one of a kind atmosphere, or more appropriately I should say one of the most anticipated annual events going in this town.

Julian McMahon / Saturn Sky - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

While the event is to benefit charity and does raise $100,000 for P.S. Arts , the question is still why go to all of this trouble? GM is changing the public's perception of the company and the products it develops. The GM Ten is a means of changing the minds of those that set the trends, the avant-garde of our generation. The automaker is working its way down to the general public and our perception while concurrently improving the products it offers.

As we leave the 2005 GM Ten, the rain is pounding unmercifully. For those fortunate to attend, the memories of the night won't wash away for years to come.

Rhona Mitra - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

- John Grafman

More information on General Motors can be found at www.gm.com

More information on the Mondrian hotel can be found at www.morganshotelgroup.com

Hilary Duff & Haylie Duff - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

SIDEBAR

I am more than excited to see that the GM Ten event is a "charity driven" affair especially since several charities are so near and dear to me. Everything that I have been reading regarding the previous GM Ten events makes a point to state the philanthropic nature of this event within the first three sentences. I figure that this is going to be a wonderful opportunity for the chosen non-profit, P.S. Arts, to get their name, cause and mission out to hundreds of people, many in the position to really help out.

The Party - Photo Credit: Joanne West, West photography Upon arriving and walking around in the great white tents I notice that one thing is oddly absent, any branding of P.S. Arts. I realize that this entire evening is a publicity event for GM, however, when you align yourself with an organization and you tout the charity nature of the event, the organization should receive some signage, but there was nothing, zip, nada. My next thought is that before the show starts an announcement will be made that GM was going to donate $100,000 to P.S. Arts then someone would briefly describe who they are and what they do. Again there was nothing, zip, nada. The only recognition of GM's generous donation comes in the form of one sentence on the first page of their program. Basically, if you don't pick up and read the program you will have no idea that this event is "charity driven" because nothing here leads you to believe this.

Marcus Allen & Eric Dickerson - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography This makes me think. How can you make the claim of "charity driven" when there's virtually nothing here that even mentions the non-profit? Why would GM not take their publicity one step further? Someone chose P.S. Arts as this year's charity of choice, so why not be proud and publicly show your support? Why doesn't P.S. Arts sneak in a brochure or two? I guess I may never know the answers to these questions as General Motors moves in mysterious ways. GM, like many other companies, is working with charities as a way of bolstering their image and doing something of real significance to try to make the world a better place. As long as the charity is truly benefiting, this can be a match made in heaven. P.S. Arts is a great organization and deserves recognition for their work and dedication.

Kanye West - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography Perhaps next year GM could encourage its guests to learn more about the charity that is going to receive such a financial windfall. Although sometimes charities can feel like the younger sibling always tapping your shoulder for attention, they make possible everything from shelter to food to educating those in need. They take care of the population - human, animal and plant - when others don't or won't. GM's association with charity is something that they should celebrate and be proud of, not relegate to one line.

David Spade - Photo Credit: Joanne West, West photography

- Shani Grafman For more information please go to www.psarts.org

Ms. Grafman has worked with numerous charities since 1998 including The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and United Cerebral Palsy of LA, Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties.

Homepage photo of Jamie Foxx - Photo Credit: Diane Wunderlich, Wunderlich Photography

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