For a moment, I thought I’d walked onto the set of Mad Men.
But it wasn’t Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce; it was the spotless new office headquarters of CAA. Which is, in fact, even more pristinely corporate than the television stage set.
The occasion was the grand-opening gala for the CAA HQ on Monday evening (6/4). The elevator at 401 Commerce takes you up to the Penthouse (high above both UMG and SunTrust). The cream-and-white lobby/reception area looks directly into a massive, glass-walled conference room. The eight-feet-wide, white granite table seats at least 30. The exterior wall commands a vista of SoBro, including the stunning, evolving Music City Center.
A U-shaped corridor wraps around the opposite side of the Penthouse level. At each corner is an executive office with a jaw-dropping view. But even the offices along the hallways have glass walls overlooking something. Woodwork throughout is light walnut. Chairs are black moderne.
There is a break room the size of a small cafeteria. A sitting room, presumably for visiting artists, has a deep-cushioned white sectional, cream colored lounge seats and, of course, a glass wall overlooking Tune Town.
Did I mention that flutes of champagne were arrayed along the receptionist’s counter? So as not to soil the flawless décor, the actual food, drink and mob were on the ground floor on the building’s patio.
And I do mean mob. “EVERYONE is here,” Lori Badgett correctly observed. “If you can’t find someone, they’re here.” “And we’ll see them all again next year,” added Gillie Crowder, referring to the fact that the opening did double duty as CAA’s 20th annual Fan Fair industry “barbecue.”
“Everyone” included Scott Siman, Susan Stewart, Royce Risser, Hunter Hayes, John Grady, John Dorris, John Esposito, John Huie (I assume; I never actually saw him), Rod Essig (ditto), Randy Scruggs, Ron Cox, Rob Dennis, Scott Clayton, Martin Clayton, Steve & Ree Guyer Buchanan, Steve Moore and Kip Moore, who is riding high at No. 1 with “Something ‘Bout a Truck.” “I wish you could see these clubs we’re filling,” said Kip with a grin. “They sing along with the words to every song on the album.” “That’s the same thing that happened with Eric Church,” I told him. “I am so, so happy for you.”
But I digress. “Everyone” also included Drew Alexander, Daniel Hill, Dwight Wiles, Alan & Beth Raebeck Hall, Melinda Scruggs Gales, Hank Adam Locklin, Chuck Mead, Elizabeth Cook, Mayor Karl Dean, Barry Coburn, Tracy Gershon, Teri Brown (who has moved here), Mike Vaden, Justin Levenson, Nancy Shapiro, Heath Owen (who is working with/for his Hall of Fame dad Randy), Larry Fitzgerald, Christina Winslow, Kathleen O’Brien, Sally Williams and — from A to Z — everyone from Alison Jones to Nicole Zeller.
The party was staged in the Hall of Fame Rotunda. Exotic, lavender-hued roses in glass bowls were centered on each maroon-clad cocktail table. Trays of h’ors d’oeuvre circulated.
Snacking and sipping were Lucas Hendrickson, Rob Simbeck, Kay West, Sherod Robertson, crutch toting Lorianne Crook nursing a knee injury, Charlie Chase, Brian Mansfield, Phyllis Stark, Jimmy Harnen, Ed Morris, Vernell Hackett and Scott Borchetta, taking a rare pause from making music-industry news every day.
“We expect this exhibit to have wide appeal to the fans in town this week,” said the Museum’s Kyle Young. He described Ms. Swift as “an old friend.” I guess so. Her recent $4 million donation, “made international headlines,” said Kyle. “It is the largest donation from an artist in our 45-year history.”
Swift’s Speak Now tour was 111 shows in 82 cities, 19 countries and four continents. It sold more than 1,579,885 tickets and was the top-grossing country tour of 2011. Some 130 people traveled in 21 trucks and 13 buses from date to date. The stage took more than five hours to construct at each venue. There were 350 lights, 116 speakers and 158 motors. A total of 62 tons of equipment hung from the rigging above the stages in the arenas.
The first tour artifact on display is the “Juliet” balcony on which Swift flew around the arena at the finale of each show. Arranged along the glass walls encasing the museum’s archival area on both the third and second museum levels are various set pieces from the show.
There’s the dress with the gold bugle beads worn during “The Story of Us,” the snug gleaming black number form “Long Live,” the red-on-red creation worn for “Better Than Revenge” and the vintage “hillbilly” frock from “Mean” and “Our Song.” Each is displayed with a faux tree, a glamorous chair, a frame, a railing or another prop that originally accompanied it. There’s a video station, too.
Also on view are the “Speak Now” wedding ensemble, the violet “Fearless” cocktail dress, that wafting pale-blue piano gown from “Back to December,” the wild crimson “gypsy” dress from “Haunted” and the climactic “Juliet” gold-and-ivory gown. Were you counting? Yes, Taylor had nine costume changes during each show. Including dancers and instrumentalists, 150 costumes were involved. Wait. Double that. Each one of them had a “spare” that could be worn while the other was being cleaned and/or repaired.
The verdict: Your daughters are going to LOVE this exhibit. Oh, and so will you.