Tourism-brochure Australiana and a convention centre-like setting - not to mention the minor microphone malfunction that stymied host Richard Wilkins’ swinging intro - did little to dampen the enthusiasm at Saturday’s G’Day USA gala dinner in LA.
Yes, some of the celebrity faces mightn’t have been recognisable to the largely American audience, and, yes, the tired "shrimp on the barbie" riff featured, but the crowd of a thousand cheered, laughed and mingled their way through Curtis Stone’s dinner of prawns and lamb, as honours were doled out to Australia’s shiniest talents in the US.
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Aussie stars shine at G'Day USA
Geoffrey Rush, Curtis Stone and Jacki Weaver are honoured at the G'Day USA gala in Los Angeles.
Cate Blanchett, wearing a printed ivory silk top and skirt, presented Geoffrey Rush with his 2014 Excellence in the Arts award, reeling off a never-ending list of the actor’s film conquests.
"As he says of himself, he is a whore," the Blue Jasmine actress, fresh from receiving her International AACTA award on Friday, said.
"I doubt there are many other actors who have played both Snoopy and the Marquis de Sade."
Meanwhile, Rush said watching the clip of his work was ''like seeing your life flash before your eyes without actually having to die.''
He went on to describe Blanchett as a "truly a beautiful friend and great colleague and bodacious actress."
Reverting jokingly to his native Queensland dialect, he addressed the Americans in the audience: "Please never, unless you’re in adult supervision, attempt an Australian accent."
The King’s Speech actor used his speech therapy training to its best effect, giving the auditorium a lesson on the correct drawling pronunciation of "G’Day USA."
A red carpet scrum set the scene for the centrepiece of the month-long trade and tourism initiative, founded 11 years ago by Qantas, Tourism Australia, AusTrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
It was unexpected, if a little fitting, then, that first down the red carpet was ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley.
Following the diplomat were Lorna Jane Clarkson, founder of Lorna Jane sportswear, in a BCBG dress, and newly single model Jessica Gomes in soft pink Nicholas and Saint Laurent shoes.
Naomi Watts, wearing soft grey lace, did not stop to talk with press, while Delta Goodrem, wearing Bianca Spender, spoke of the nickname she gives her LA home, the "house of Oz."
Sharon Osbourne, due to present Stone with his Excellence in Culinary Arts award, was a no-show on the frenetic red carpet.
The Melbourne chef is less than a week away from opening his Beverly Hills eatery, Maude, named after his grandmother.
"He could have been out shagging and partying ... like every other guy in their twenties, but not Curtis," Osbourne said of her friend and Celebrity Apprentice cohort before presenting the chef with his award.
"My Ozzie," she said, riffing on the obvious theme, "is dying to try your food."
Stone, clearly moved, admitted he was ''a little overwhelmed" before recalling his days working with Osbourne: "It's not every day Sharon Osbourne breaks your balls, and I kind of enjoyed it.
Nashville actress Clare Bowen, in a beaded Rachel Gilbert dress, was a forerunner to a swift-moving Jacki Weaver, the Excellence in Film honoree of the night and, after three evenings on the red carpet in as many days, far from the mood to speak with Australian media.
Tina Arena, star performer for the night and a G’Day USA newcomer, wore J’Aton and South Sea Atlas pearls, telling Fairfax Media she looked forward to a night of fun with a crowd who are very rarely in the same room together.
Mel Gibson, presenter of the Excellence in Film award to Weaver, said he was feeling good.
"I could be worse. I’m not dead, ok, I’m great."
And Paul Hogan, speaking about the stand-up career he has enjoyed of late, said his shows are heckler-free.
Hecklers are too scared to meddle with the newly single Crocodile Dundee actor, he said.
John Travolta, Qantas ambassador, said his son had inherited his love of aviation - without any coaxing.
The Grease actor will next month celebrate his 60th birthday surrounded by family.
Daisy Dumas travelled to Los Angeles courtesy of Qantas.