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Top moments from the ‘glamorous chaos’ backstage at the Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Awards backstage is a whirlwind of movie stars, handlers, photographers, lighting technicians, agents, selfies, alcohol, media members, and TV cameras.

The evening’s first award winner, Danielle Deadwyler, who received the Breakthrough Performance Award for the film “Till,” perfectly described the award show craziness: “It’s glamorous chaos,” she described it.

This year, Shad Powers, a reporter for the Desert Sun, which is part of the USA TODAY network, was perched backstage, chatting with winners, watching the action, and seeing what goes on behind the scenes.

Talk about trophies

The physical trophies the stars are now carrying are a hot topic backstage as they step down the seven or eight stairs into the waiting arms of their handlers who move them through a media maze. Awards are classified into two types. The first is a tall bronze spirally actor standing on a globe created by late artist John Kennedy. It’s really cool. The other is a little more creative. It resembles a glass cactus with Fritos protruding from it. It’s more of an acquired taste, but it’s one of Dale Chihuly’s popular glass works.

There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to which honorees receive which trophy, but Deadwyler was excited by the appearance of her award, and when I asked her to describe it, she responded poetically.

“This is something stunning, it’s very jester-al, like a jester, yet he’s standing poised on rough terrain, and yet, it didn’t care about my muscles or that today is my off day for lifting, because it’s heavy,” she said, attempting a few bicep curls with it.

Actors observing actors

Backstage, it’s fascinating to see one famous actor completely captivated by the speech of another famous actor. I observed the cast of “The Fabelmans” pause in their conversation to watch Cate Blanchett deliver a speech. Brendan Fraser had been completely captivated by Deadwyler earlier in the evening.

When they listen to other actors talk, you can tell they are enjoying it on a much higher level than, say, me. Actors enjoy conversing with and listening to other actors. It’s simply a fact.

Celebrities are just like us.

Have you ever asked a stranger to take a picture of you and your crew with your phone? It’s awkward because you know you’re exposing them, but you do it anyway. Famous actors, it appears, are the same way.

When Jamie Lee Curtis and her “Everything, Everywhere All At Once” co-stars Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu exited the stage, she asked a stranger, Desert Sun photographer Jay Calderon, to take a cell phone photo of them (after Yeoh took home the International Star Award). Curtis had everything planned out and had the perfect background; she showed Jay how her phone was ready for the photo. Cate Blanchett walked by and jumped into the photo just as Jay was about to take it. Backstage action is always entertaining!

Jay did the right thing by taking a few options and showing them to Curtis. “Excellent work,” she said.

Elvis has exited the backstage area.

Austin Butler, the heartthrob who was a revelation in the titular role in “Elvis,” was without a doubt the person most (I’ll just keep it real) gawked at backstage. Each award winner was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight, and while they were doing so, a small semicircle of workers, fans, and onlookers gathered to get a close look at the star.

Butler’s semicircle was about five times deeper than anyone else’s, and it was filled with people I’d never seen before or after. Each was jockeying for position in order to take cell phone photos of the handsome leading man. Backstage, there was a lot more elbow room after Butler left.

Over here, over here, over here

Brian Tyree Henry, best known for his work on the TV show “Atlanta” (and who is getting Oscar buzz for his work in the film “Causeway” this year), was presenting an award Thursday night when he made a joke about the cattle-call nature of the backstage photo shoots. He had a small hand-held fan that he used between shots to dry away sweat, and when he was in front of his final photographic firing squad, one of the photographers said, “Look into the lens,” and he mockingly replied, “Which one, there are like 90 of you.”

We gave Deadwyler the first word and will give her the last word because she had a great time being a part of this night.

“I just enjoy being around other actors, especially those who are pushing their craft to new heights. You can have a larger discussion about where you’ve been, how you’ve worked, and the stories you tell, as well as a discussion about the stories they tell, and everyone can kind of swirl all their stories together. It’s fantastic, “She stated.

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