Planners are all too often hidden in the shadows, even though they are responsible for all the heavy lifting. But, once in a while, an event of epic proportions occurs and everyone wants a little piece of the planner. They step out from behind the curtain to center stage as the star of the production. Such is the case for Ana Martinez, vice president of media relations for Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
In her 30-year career with the chamber, she’s planned about 700 Walk of Fame star ceremonies. This month alone, there are five new star unveilings. One would think events of this magnitude would take a village to plan, but such is not the case.
“I am the team. I have a person that proofs my releases and then she helps me do check-in for press the day of and we have a girl who does guest check-in. It is me only on the daily,” says Martinez. “I am starting to go a little crazy, but it is so fun and I love my job and the craziness it brings.”
Social Media Presence
When Martinez announced April 30 as the date the band N*SYNC would receive their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Martinez grew her own fanbase on social media. Known as @wofstargirl on Twitter, her following increased by 400 overnight, with more added daily. As of press time, she has a following of more than 9,000. Besides overseeing all the logistics of planning the event, Martinez has taken the time to respond to fans asking questions from all over the world, even while battling pneumonia.
“Press releases are great, but social media is instant and, honestly, I enjoy the banter with the fans,” she says. “I don’t love when some are mean. I am very protective of our Walk of Famers.”
She uses Twitter as an outlet to communicate with fans regarding location, line-up time and bathrooms. It tore up a lot of fans’ hearts that they couldn’t be there in person today, but thanks to the power of the internet, all Walk of Fame star ceremonies are livestreamed online in partnership with Variety.
Keynote speakers are a key part of Walk of Fame star ceremonies. The honorees, not Martinez, selects the guest speakers, but she encourages them to select fellow celebrities because “it makes the fan experience much more exciting.”
Television hosts Ellen DeGeneres and Carson Daly each had a few moments at the podium for the N*SYNC event. Daly was a VJ on Total Request Live during the band’s heyday when the streets of New York were a gridlock of teenage fans every afternoon, especially when Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick appeared on the program.
“Perhaps my greatest achievement occurred back in 1998 when a boy band came to the U.S. hot off the charts in Europe [and] landed on our MTV doorsteps in Times Square,” Daly said. The honorees also each take a turn on the stand. “All five of us would like to thank Ellen and Carson for coming out and roasting us,” Timberlake teased.
“A star on this boulevard is more than just an honor,” fellow singer, Bass, said in his acceptance speech. “It’s a lasting reminder of all the artists from all the colors of the rainbow that your voice matters and I am truly humbled and honored to be a part of that legacy in some small way.”
Send in the Crowds
“I want to thank the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for making events like this possible for the entire world,” said City of Los Angeles councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “After this day, millions of fans from across the world will be able to come to this spot just so they can enjoy N*SYNC.”
Part of Martinez’s job is filing for a permit to have a star made and a permit for the ceremony itself. One lane of traffic needs to be shut down in a busy sector of Hollywood. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Hollywood Division Captain Cory Palka was there on the momentous day to ensure the safety of all attendees.
Martinez is used to the stars attracting massive crowds. The late Selena had 4,500 audience members. “Today we broke a record for Boy Band Fan attendance!” she tweeted after the N*SYNC event concluded. “2,500 amazing fans showed up! Thanks to @lapd2014 @LAPDHollywood and our security team for all the great work and protecting the fans and shutting down the blvd!”
The ceremonies are also beneficial to Los Angeles tourism, as some fans fly in from far and wide and stay in area hotels. The walk is steps away from major meeting hotels, such as W Hotel Hollywood, Loews Hollywood Hotel and The Hollywood Roosevelt.
Dealing with Mishaps
From hiring photographers to credentialing press and everything in between, Martinez has her formula down pat. But, when life sometimes throws her a curveball, she’s at the ready.
Los Angeles is known for its lack of rain, but once in a while precipitation does fall from the sky, in which case she arranges for canopies and tents. “We are like the U.S. Post Office,” she jokes. “Through rain or snow, except we don’t have snow!”
As with every Hollywood production, even Walk of Fame star ceremonies have a blooper reel. In 2010, engravers accidentally misspelled actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ name as “Luis.” It has since been corrected. “The late Johnny Grant introduced Joan Rivers as Joan Collins because Joan had a Dynasty in the jewelry business! Joan pushed him aside and said, ‘That’s ok Johnny, I’ve been called a b**** before!’” Martinez says. This just goes to show you that no matter how much you prep a keynote speaker and give them the ground rules, they may go rogue once given the mic.
After so much planning goes into scheduling one of these ceremonies, it’s a coordinators worst nightmare when the star is absent. “I heard that a no-show was Barbra Streisand, but I was not here at that time.”