January 2005
LA says Hooray For Aussiewood

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The Courier-Mail 15 January 2004


LA says hooray for Aussiewood

News Source: The Courier-Mail, page 15, Saturday 15th January, 2005
By: Peter Mitchell

Los Angeles has been transformed from Tinseltown to Aussiewood.

In coming days, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson, Greg Norman, Delta Goodrem, Steve Irwin, Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins, Australian politicians, fashion designers, musicians, artists and food and wine companies will be rolled out on a conveyer belt of promotional events as part of the G’Day LA Australia Week festival.

Usually self-obsessed Angelenos will find it hard to ignore Australia between now and January 21.

Los Angeles supermarkets look more like a Coles in Cairns or a Woolies in Wollongong.

In Beverly Hills at the upmarket Bristol Farms store – where celebrities like Madonna and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen buy tomatoes or apples for $4 each – Australian flags cover cash registers and blow-up plastic kangaroos decorate specially constructed stalls with Australian food products.

“ Los Angeles will definitely have an Australian flavour,” said Kylie Hargreaves, Austrade’s senior trade commissioner in LA and a member of the Australia Week steering committee.

Australian star power will lead the way this weekend.

The Penfolds Australian black-tie gala at a five-star LA hotel is one of the hottest invites in town, with scalpers auctioning off tickets on eBay for $US1000 ($1307). At the event Kidman, Gibson and singing star Keith Urban will be honoured for “their role as ambassadors of Australian culture and talent”.

With names like Kidman and Gibson attending, plenty of Hollywood’s American-born A-list are expected to turn up to the lovefest, with Cher one of many celebrities rumoured to make an appearance. Goodman, hoping to break into the US music market, will sing at the event.

Australian politicians and business leaders, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, will also make Tinseltown home for a few days.

Mr Downer will address the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in downtown LA next week, and also will appear with some other highpowered Australian suits at the BHP Bolliton Trade and Investment Seminar in Santa Monica.

Norman will hold a golf day with the chief executives of American companies and Irwin will tease some crocodiles at two shows.

Hawkins, after a break in Australia over Christmas, will be popping up at particular events to add a bit of glamour to the festivities.

The Australia Week event is timed to coincide with Hollywood’s awards season, a period that has recently become a flag-waving parade for Australian actors, cinematographers, directors and costume designers.

On Monday, four Australians – Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Julian McMahon – are in the running for awards at the Golden Globes, a key indicator to next month’s Oscars.

Blanchett is the hot favourite to win the best supporting actress Globe.

If Blanchett does win, she will achieve something that screen goddess and four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn failed to do – win a Golden Globe.