One Direction hit the red carpet in 2012. Photo: Simon Schluter
How do you describe the Logies? It's TV's Night of Nights, it's the Oscars on steroids, it's a raucous Emmys, it's a place where tabloid marvel Brynne Edelsten walks down the red carpet alongside acting heavyweight Lachy Hulme, it's a reality TV show that's aired live and with much better talent. It's an anything-goes, anything's-said glimpse into the sparkling world of fame and creativity and people who are constantly ready for their close-ups.
If you've ever wondered why the Logies seem so different to the big overseas awards shows, it's important to remember that the Academy Awards have traditionally been a no-alcohol zone. (Last year, for the first time, drinks were served backstage only.) At the Logies, the talent are offered pre-show drinks from 4pm.
And oh, the stories. Plenty of people begged off revealing secrets for this article. Publicity stalwart Kerry O'Brien says there are many ''but they remain in the vault. I like working in this town.'' Someone else who used to work in network TV says ''I'm still too traumatised to share.'' Still, there are plenty who do under the promise of anonymity.
Brynne Edelsten gets primped in 2010. Photo: Penny Stephens
But first, some background. It's the hottest ticket of the year, no question. John Flower, of HotHouse Media & Events, manages guest lists and invitation ticketing (as well as the equally difficult task of seating everyone) and remembers one woman emailing him a picture of the dress to be worn to persuade him to invite her.
To understand why a Logies invitation is so coveted, consider this: only 1000 people are invited, including network bigwigs. You don't get a plus-one, unless you're Extremely Powerful and/or nominated. Winning a Logie will result in your agent trying (and usually succeeding) in upping your price tag on the following Monday. (Alternatively, it can be a career-staller: after comedian Wendy Harmer hosted the Logies in 2002 to vast criticism, she said, ''It can be pretty full-on, pretty savage stuff [if you fail].'')
And it brings together people in the industry who admire each other but don't usually get to mingle. As former senior producer of the Logies Neradine Tisaj remembers, ''You'll be on the dance floor and you'll see [Today show co-host] Lisa Wilkinson there with [comedian] Chris Lilley - unusual people hanging out together. It's quite bipartisan, once the awards are won.''
A clueless Joan Rivers keeps it real as a special guest in 2006. Photo: Penny Stephens
There's always a big overseas name flown in for the event, too - although since most of these celebrities aren't Australian, they don't know what the high hell the Logies are all about.
''American celebrities are always bewildered because they don't know who anyone is,'' one publicist says. When comedian Joan Rivers took to the stage at the 2006 Logies she famously said, ''I don't know why the f--- I'm here. I know you're all famous, and I hope you all win, [but] I don't know who you are.''
From there it can be a rough road. Although Sex and the City's Chris Noth was polite and good-humoured, rumour has it that Friends' Matt LeBlanc was difficult (although he loosened up at the after-party), as was George Eads from CSI, prompting former head of publicity for Channel Nine Jamie Campbell to go on record about the latter. ''Sometimes you get celebrities that are a dream to deal with. But others, like last year's guest, CSI's George Eads, you certainly earn your money. Two hours before the ceremony, his publicist told me that he doesn't like red carpets.''
Susie Elelman wears an idiosyncratic outfit in 2001 Photo: Matthew Bouwmeester
Some visiting guests expect a little extra, which was probably how Patrick Stewart ended up in a helicopter from the airport to the red carpet. Some expect a lot extra: when Raquel Welch came in 1989, she realised she was the biggest drawcard and wasn't being reimbursed properly, so reportedly demanded $20,000 in jewellery. For others, they take what they can get, which is how Britt Ekland supposedly took the hairdryer used on her coif.
Even though it's a show where the audience determines some of the winners (the ''popular'' awards), the Logies have credibility within the industry, with a panel of judges deciding who gets the ''outstanding'' awards. But on the social side of things, it's hard to escape its reputation as a giant Aussie piss-up.
One publicity bigwig says that when she started in the industry, someone likened the Logies to ''a B&S [Bachelor and Spinster] ball. It's the trashiest event and it lasts for the whole weekend.
''A lot of people come down on a Friday night, so the plane rides on the way back on Monday are pretty funny; that's where you see everyone hungover.''
And what can you see on the night? Pretty much everything. One past guest says that over the years there have been ''people fainting and being carried off to hospitals''. Another says there are ''a lot of women who haven't been eating for a few weeks, so they get there and have a few drinks and it goes pear-shaped.''
That's putting it politely. One story that's done the rounds has a network wardrobe mistress glimpsing a female guest engaged in a certain, um, act with a fellow in the foyer while the show was being taped inside - ''and that was before the after-party'', says the person the story was told to. Urban myth? Perhaps.
There are tales of the actor who didn't accept her award because she was doing cocaine in the toilets, while someone else recalls the time she saw a teenage soap opera starlet climb onto a table only to take her underwear off during the telecast. ''I remember it because publicity quickly grabbed her,'' the insider says. ''There's a saying in the industry that people who attend Logies always get really drunk at their first one. It's quite a stressful night for publicists, who are trying to keep the talent tidy.''
The same Logies spy adds that ''the seating plan is the biggest nightmare for everyone''. ''It's like the worst wedding situation: you've got lots of people who have had falling-outs with other people, and you've got to be careful where all the tables are - [where you are seated] is all about importance. The running joke is that SBS is always down the back. Where you're seated and who you're seated with is a big deal as well. Network CEOs are seated with their most important talent - it's the bridal head table.''
John Flower says there's a formula to who sits where, with tables closest to the stage being reserved for nominated shows and talent, as well as other famous folk. ''Once tables are set and name cards placed, we check tables three times. The last check is just before guests enter the room to ensure place cards are not swapped.''
Not that attendees don't try to do a switcheroo: ''A guest's name was swapped once, a few years ago - I assume as a joke - and it was discovered by my team and swapped back. My team are brutal and allow no tampering. Hands will be slapped!'' Sometimes it's not just the guests who need to be reined in: Niki White of Nikstar (which handles Logies publicity and red carpet management) says that last year someone in the media decided to kiss One Direction's Louis Tomlinson on the red carpet. Needless to say, they won't be invited back again. That's because, all else aside, the Logies are still the biggest event on the calendar for Australia's famous. ''There's nothing to rival it,'' explains a former network boss.
Dressing for the red carpet is serious business: designers Alex Perry and J'Aton are frequent favourites for those who can afford them (or have the clout to borrow), while big jewellery names such as Cerrone, Stefano Canturi and Jan Logan provide much of the bling.
''There are a lot of spray tans, and they're TV people, so they wear a lot of make-up,'' says someone who's been up close on the carpet. ''People want to be photographed, so they tend to wear outfits that are eye-catching. They all want to end up in the papers the next day. You've got your glamorous celebrities like Megan Gale, Sarah Murdoch and Jennifer Hawkins, you have your trashy TV soap stars, and you have your serious actors. It makes for an interesting, colourful evening.''
Since Myer is a sponsor, many of its designers - Toni Maticevski, for one - are willing to dress the stars. ''Everybody always looks incredible,'' says SBPR agency owner Sally Burleigh, who has worked in the TV industry for her entire career. She recently represented J'Aton, which gets inquiries for Logies dresses ''every single day''.
''In the old days, it was all very hit and miss,'' she says, citing Susie Elelman's numerous outre outfits and Melissa George's strange striped balloon dress, a court-jester-like concoction that she wore when she won best new talent in 1994. ''These days, designers and network and freelance stylists pull out all stops to create the best look.''
Stylist Philip Boon has dressed Magda Szubanski at the Logies for the past half-dozen years, and even went as her date several times. Most actors, he says, ''want to have that element of movie star about them at the Logies, although it's a long night, so they want to be comfortable - no corseting.''
Some, he says, look to make a bit more of a splash. ''I call it the 'I need a job, I'm an actress' dress, when they flash their boobs and have a split thigh. I try to dress my actresses in something a lot more elegant than that.'' With good results: when he gave Lantana's Daniela Farinacci a ''glam goth look'' for one Logies, ''producer Jan Chapman said, 'Oh my god, you look totally different - in the future, when I cast roles, I'll think of you for the glamorous parts, too.''' He says ''there's no place for the kooky dress at all - the Bjork effect, I call it, after Bjork's swan dress.''
And the party keeps going long after the telecast: even after you've scored a seat at the show everyone's still clamouring to get into the best after-parties, thrown largely by the networks at Crown Casino, where the live show is also held.
''All the talent go to each other's network parties. Everyone's texting each other all night to see where parties are at and which they should go to,'' a publicist says. And that's when PR flacks have the hardest task - ''to ensure media don't capture any footage or photographs of anyone who gets a little 'tired and emotional','' says Kerry O'Brien.
''It's a big night, a celebration for all the hard work over the past year, so I think everyone should let their hair down and behave how they want to behave,'' O'Brien says. ''No one wants their photo taken at midnight. We always limit the time and the number of media allowed into the parties. We want the guests to relax.''
It's in the bag
In the past, Logies gift bags have been worth about $800, filled with swimwear, luggage accessories, cosmetics (caviar-laced skin cream, anyone?) and candles, among other treasures. Guests would visit a gift suite at Crown Casino - there's champagne served, for starters - where they'd go from stall to stall, picking out whatever they'd like for their bags. That stopped because, one publicist says, ''Some celebrities would be very gracious, or too embarrassed to even go to the suite, whereas others were quite brazen, and it would turn to hoarding.''
Two famous female names - one of whom had worked extensively in the US - poached more than their fair share, leading the suite to be cut altogether.
This year, it's bags again, worth more than $1000. In it will be TV Week Logie award statuette cufflinks from Ties 'n' Cuffs, skincare products from La Prairie (including Skin Caviar products), a Kaiser Baas contact speaker, a Simone Perele gift voucher, Jean Patou Joy perfume, all in a TV Week Logies tote bag. Not everyone gets one either; it's only given to nominees, presenters and international guests.
The Logies screen tonight on Channel Nine from 8pm.