Michele and Rohr to Bring Secrets of Oscar Night to Coronado Island Film Festival - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Michele and Rohr to Bring Secrets of Oscar Night to Coronado Island Film Festival

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2019 12:43 pm | Updated: 12:49 pm, Thu Oct 24, 2019.

Since the inception of the Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF), a recurring mantra of the articles I have written about the event has been, ‘If you love film, you need to attend the CIFF.’ All aspects of the industry are covered, from movies to critics panels, the history of film, and especially this year, music.

One event in CIFF 2019 that may have escaped your attention thus far is scheduled for Sunday, November 10th at 4 pm for the Winn Room of the Coronado Public Library. The title of the show is “Dina Michelle and Steve Rohr Inside the Oscars®: Hollywood’s Biggest Night.” Michele is the Director of Talent Relations for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which means she and her committee of 150 industry professionals are responsible for all nominee and talent movements from the moment they step on the 900-foot red carpet in front of the Dolby Theatre, until they depart from the Governors’ Ball at evening’s end.

Rohr is the Show Publicist for the Academy Awards, and in charge of the publicity for the show that reaches 225 countries and territories. The native of Montana and graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota is entering his fifth awards season as Show Publicist. Between the two, I would suspect they know most that is worth knowing in and about Hollywood.

Michelle is a true Daughter of the South, raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and is strong in her faith. “I told my mother when I was six years old and we were watching the Academy Awards I would be there some day. My 25th Academy Awards show is in 2020. Sometimes in the world, God guides you to where he wants you to be. Sometimes I think about getting out of it, but I am pulled in to stay and make a difference.”

Michelle is a graduate of North Carolina Charlotte, where she majored in English and minored in Communications. After graduation, she headed west to a familiar destination. “I hopped into my 280Z and drove to Coronado. I lived on Orange Avenue with a girlfriend who had moved to Coroando and she had an extra room. I lived there for two years and my first bank account in Southern California was at Union Bank in Coronado. I love to come to Coronado because it feels like home.”

Michelle was an aspiring actress at this point in her career, and knew she eventually had to move to Los Angeles to audition for parts. After living in L.A. for a short time, she replied to a blind ad, along with 20 other people, for a job as an executive assistant with the Academy and got the job.

Although Michelle is a long-time L.A. resident, she still has a Southern lilt to her speech. “I’m very fond of my roots. People are nice there you know. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I told people to stop by for tea. They told me they would text or call first. In the South, that’s part of the joy of life. But people just started stopping by. It’s sort of that way in business too. I have a reputation for treating talent, managers, publicists and everybody like they are a star. It’s a great reputation to have, to get up every day and if I’m having a bad day, try to make someone’s life better and make a difference for them.”

At this point, you’re probably thinking that Hollywood is going to eat a sincerely nice person like Michele alive before long. Well, she has been with the Academy for 25 years, and despite offers to leave, Michelle truly believes she is where she belongs. “We’re opening the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in about a year. I get the Academy members together and ask for things for the exhibits. It will be the biggest movie museum in the world and quite spectacular.”

In addition to her responsibilities for the Academy, Michelle has had a lengthy affiliation with Associated Television International as a talent producer. “I used to be the talent producer for the Hollywood Christmas Parade, and music specials. I have been with the Academy for so long, that sometimes it wasn’t a full-time job and it was freelance. One of our biggest clients is Hallmark Crown Entertainment, the greatest company ever. I have had a lot of opportunities to work with other organizations, but I can’t take everything. I pass along the opportunities to friends who need the work, which is really great.”

As for the night of the Academy Awards, Michelle provided some of the behind the scenes highlights of her job. “We have three shows. The Red Carpet, the Oscars and the Governors’ Ball. I’m on the Red Carpet greeting guests and performers. You’ll see me running up and down the Red Carpet.”

The 150-person Talent Relations Committee Michelle oversees plays a huge role at this point. Taking the actor George Clooney as an example, Michelle describes the process. “A member of the Talent Relations Committee would meet Clooney at the foot of the red carpet and escort him throughout the evening. Part of the process is hooking up the talent with their representation, because they know who the stars are scheduled to talk to. Clooney likes to walk on the general public side and then do the press side. Some stars walk the carpet in 20 minutes and take a couple of photos. Clooney might take a couple of hours. It’s fun. On the rare occasion someone asks us to go with them, it’s really fun to walk down the carpet. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

A fun fact is that many movie stars stay in the hotel connected to the Dolby Theatre, walk downstairs, hop in a limo and go around the block to start their walk down the Red Carpet. Michelle laughed and said, “That’s true. We have the most security of any event other than the Super Bowl. There are different hurdles and pathways to get to the Red Carpet and its not easy. It’s just easier to ride in the limo.”

Rohr should not be slighted in this article, because anyone who can answer 8,500 E-mails in the four months he works full-time on the Oscars, probably deserves a column of his own. Armed with a BA in Political Science and a Communications Minor, Rohr went to graduate school at Arizona State where he earned a master’s in communications.

“In the beginning, there was a lot of stress and anxiety when I moved to Hollywood,” Rohr recalled. “I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know how Hollywood worked or the types and kinds of jobs that were available. I didn’t know the language of Hollywood and I was not tuned in at all. It took me a year to understand where I belonged in this industry. Finally I got an internship with KCBS Channel 2 in Los Angeles and I thought I won the lottery. I was getting up at 2:30 am to do the morning and noon shows. I thought, ‘I think I’ve made it.’ I was promoted again and I thought maybe news wasn’t it for me. I thought entertainment was the way for me to go and be in the creative world. So I stumbled into publicity.”

Rohr’s first client was Kristoff St. John, the late star of “Young and the Restless.” Rohr said, “We hit it off and he was a great guy. He said, ‘You talk well and people like you and we’ll pay you for two weeks work.’ Within 10 days I had five new clients and in one month, I had a small office at 1901 Avenue of the Stars. That’s how I got started. Then I represented actors, recording artists and authors and have been doing that for 13 years now. My first client to be nominated was the actor Hal Holbrook. He was a complete gentleman and I represented him and his wife Dixie Carter. Dixie was quite ill and had just gotten out of the hospital before the Academy Awards ceremony and was quite ill. I called Dina Michelle at the Academy and asked if someone could assist Hal and Dixie. Dina called me back and said we would like you to take care of them. That was my first experience on the Red Carpet. The next year Dina’s office called back and asked if I could come back, work the show and escort Sophia Loren. They called me every year for a while, and I escorted Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Christopher Plummer. It’s scary and exciting.”

Rohr is a card-carrying member of the Dina Michelle Fan Club. “Dina is one of the most exceptional people you will ever meet. Not only is she really great at her job, but she is kind and one of those people who see the talent in you before you can see it in yourself. She is constantly lifting people up. She’s a girl from the South and she holds that very close to her heart. You can’t find a person in Hollywood who has anything bad to say about her. She knows where every single nominee and talent person is on the Oscar footprint. She runs a team of 150 people and she knows everything. She has great relationships with talent, stars and publicists. You can feel very, very welcome in her presence. Dina has a very calming manner, but she is tough, with a great balance. There may be a little situation arise and a couple of minutes later everyone walks away smiling. I can’t say enough about her. She had been a great champion for me and so many people. In her job she touches so much from start to finish.”

It turns out Michelle and Rohr have taken their ‘Behind the Scenes Oscar Show’ on the road, most recently for a trip on Crystal Cruises. “I’ve been traveling with them for 10 years teaching yoga and meditation,” Michelle said. “They know my daytime job and recently we went on a film and theater cruise. Photographer Art Streiber has been photographing me throughout my career and he gave me 300 photos taken during the show over the years. It’s really hard to pick just 20 photos because the show is only an hour. He got me some great shots. People loved the show, it’s a bit of an escape and it’s just fun. I was honestly so excited when (CIFF Artistic Director) Andy Friedenberg invited me to come to the festival and bring some colleagues.”

Rohr said of the Michelle & Rohr collaboration, “We’ve done a few things together where we talk about Hollywood. We kind of know how each other thinks. We tell behind the scenes stories and incidences that might be shocking to people or maybe just interesting. It’s a privilege to see the actors close up and when they win an Oscar, in that moment to be privy to their reaction. It’s kind of a beautiful thing. Winning an Oscar is the culmination of a lot of hard work. And to be near the team around them and watching that happen is pretty wonderful.”

The Coronado Island Film Festival runs from November 8-11,2019 this year. All of the Crown City passes are sold out, but a potentially great bargain, the $195 Film Buff Pass can still be purchased. CIFF Executive Director Merridee Book said, “The beauty of the Film Buff Pass is there are still a lot of places where you can make reservations and you get priority entry. If you show up for the movie “Echo in the Canyon,” you’re still going to get in. Passholders have priority. If you purchase the Film Buff Pass, you will have a full festival experience. This year we limited the number of Crown City passes we sold. Film Buff will get you into see (noted songwriter) Diane Warren, and many other events. If you buy a pass and go online, if you don’t see an event is reserved and is open, you can get in.”

For more information about the Coronado Island Film Festival, go to www.coronadoislandfilmfestival.com. If you enjoy film, the CIFF is where you need to be over Veterans Day Weekend.

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