What a show! I had no idea what the 2014 Variety Breakthrough of the Year Awards would be all about. The event at LVH, right next to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, was scheduled in conjunction with the 2014 International CES. Nick Cannon hosted the program which moved along with a combination of mostly short speeches and great entertainment from Amy Schumer, Skylar Grey , and Janelle Monae.
The winners knew they would be receiving awards so there was little anxiety and no losers. Of course this is Las Vegas so the evening began with the mandatory Red Carpet event as the invitees walked the gamut of photographers and reporters.
I asked Honorees Colin Kroll, Co-Founder of Vine and Rus Ysupov, Vine's Co-Founder and Creative Director, what plans they had for Vine for the coming year. They told me they want to, “Make it Simple”. With only 24 people currently on the payroll, these fellows and their company, winners for Emerging Technology, have really broken through and made an impact.
Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen, and Rob Thomas were there on behalf of the cast of “Veronica Mars” to receive their award in the Film category. They gave huge credit to the fans who backed their show through Kickstarter. They agreed that people want to feel a part of it and said they receive a large amount of feedback from their fans.
Popular America's Got Talent host Nick Cannon brought levity to the Red Carpet as he took his own photos, stated that a lot of sex helped his marriage to Mariah Carey, and talked about their 3 year old twins. I asked Nick what one thing would he do if he had to choose only one. He reminded us that he started as a stand up comic and that would be his choice if he had to pick one thing.
I told Amy Schumer that I am working on my stand-up comedy routine and asked her who her favorite comic is. She's got a fan for life now after looking me in the eye and saying, “You!”
Got to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the event. Red Carpets can be fun sometimes, a long dragged out event others. This one moved along beginning with Skyler Grey smiling as she told me that this was the first award she would receive with a ceremony tied to it. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter would later receive her honor in the music category and entertain the enthusiastic audience that jammed the LVH Showroom.
The Red Carpet segment ended and the theater filled with fans. Nick Cannon was an easy going easy to like host.
Will Forte received his award and referenced his years in the Groundlings and acknowledged that his is, “very excited to get to do stuff I'm proud of.”
Janelle Monae gave the longest speech of the evening, but it was articulate, from the heart, and well received. She gave praise to women including her mother, Sally Ride, the first woman into space, Nichole Nickels of Star Trek and actress Dorothy Dandridge.
Alejandro Agag of Formula E, winner for Innovation campaigned for the environment as he talked about his mission to change the perception of electric cars and thus to, “change the world and make it a better place.” He is promoting a high powerful fast electric car that generates more than 700 horsepower.
Highlights of the evening included performances by Skylar Grey singing several numbers accompanying her self on the piano, Amy Schumer providing the laughs, and a mini concert by Janelle Monae.
The complete list of winners and presenters appears here -- Honorees: Olivia Munn; Actress Will Forte, Actor; Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas on behalf of the cast of “Veronica Mars”, Film; Skylar Grey, Newcomer; Janelle Monae, Music; Amy Schumer, Comedy; Michael Ian Black, Ken and June Diane Raphael, Beth Dover and Erica Oyama of “Burning Love”, Internet Sensation; Dean Norris on behalf of the cast of “Under The Dome”, Television; Alejandro Agag of Formula E, Breakthrough Innovation; Stephan Berlitz of Audi, Most Bussed About at CES; and Don Hofmann, Co Founders Colin Kroll, Dom Hofmann, and Rus Yusupov ( also Creative Director) of VINE, Emerging Technology.
Presenters were Ryan Hansen, Maria Menonous, Paul Scheer, Lil John, Aaron Sorkin, Gary Shapiro, Michael Yo, Chris Miller and Phil Lord.