Ryan McDonald

Award show coming to Hermosa sand

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by Ryan McDonald

Between five and ten thousand teenagers are expected to deliriously scream for their favorite musicians and movie stars in the shadow of the Hermosa Beach Pier later this summer, with the city inking a deal to host the Teen Choice Awards.

At a special meeting last Friday, Hermosa’s City Council approved a location agreement allowing the awards show to take place on Sunday, Aug. 11 on the sand south of the pier. The show, in which nominees and winners are voted on by teenagers, will feature live musical performances, and will be broadcast on national television by the Fox network.

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This summer’s awards ceremony will be the show’s 21st running, but the first to ever take place on the beach. Previous venues include a hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, the Universal Amphitheater, and the Forum in Inglewood.

Event producer Bob Bain, a longtime Manhattan Beach resident, said his goal was to integrate the area’s indigenous beach culture and display it to a national audience.

“We want to capture what’s kind of already going on there anyway: surfing, skating, volleyball, everything you can possibly imagine that we might take for granted, but that I believe makes for great summer variety programming,” Bain said in an interview. “When you’re at the Forum, you don’t have the pier and the ocean behind you.”

The awards would take place in a fenced off segment of sand south of the pier, with an entrance around 10th Street. Admission will be free and open to the public, but fans will pass through a security check before entering. Along with accommodating what Bain estimates would be between 5,000 and 10,000 teen fans, the parking lot south of the pier will be used to hold trailers for event performers while A-listers would enter for a Pier Plaza red carpet walk from Loreto Plaza.

Under tentative plans filed with the city, traffic on Hermosa Avenue would be restricted between 10th and 14th Streets. The show plans to run shuttles to minimize congestion associated with people trying to park in the downtown. Set-up on the beach will begin Aug. 5, and will conclude Aug. 12, the day after the awards. The event will use some of the infrastructure coming to the beach for the Hermosa Summer Concerts, along with equipment of its own. Renderings shown at Friday’s meeting included decorations on the south side of the pier.

Hermosa officials acknowledged that hosting the event on the beach will be a logistical undertaking.

“It’s a bit of an experiment that is bold and audacious in some ways for a small beach town,” said Mayor pro tem Mary Campbell.

But the council unanimously voted to approve the location agreement, citing the positive exposure the national television audience could provide the city. They also pointed to the opportunity for a youth-oriented event on the beach, long a priority for the city’s goal of creating alternatives to alcohol-centered nightlife.

The roughly 10 weeks between the signing of the location agreement and the show’s air date is comparable to what Bain said was the 12 to 14 weeks of lead time organizers usually have to get ready. But in some ways, his production company has been preparing for months.

The show’s odyssey toward Hermosa began last October, in a conversation between Bain and Spyder Surfboards owner Dennis Jarvis. Bain had longed dreamed of holding the awards on the beach, but had been told by Los Angeles County’s Department of Beaches and Harbors that he could not do so between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The show has to be in the summer, Bain said, because advertisers are aiming to reach parents doing back-to-school shopping; the show is a major draw for brands seeking to tap the sought-after teen market, and their spending on commercials makes the show possible. Jarvis suggested reaching out to Hermosa, which, unlike its neighbors, owns its beach.

Bain said he first submitted an application in January, and that he and his company have been working with city staff and public safety officials to make sure the town could handle the event. But while the months leading up to the event may have allowed the producer to hammer out some of the details, the fact that the event remained a secret for so long irked some of the few residents that showed up for Friday’s meeting, who noted that members of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Resources Advisory Commission did not learn of the event until the agenda was posted. The commissioners typically review large special events before the council does, and past instances in which this did not occur, including the Hermosa Open volleyball tournament, created controversy.

“The fact that people on our Parks and Rec Commission were surprised that this has gone so far, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said resident Sheryl Main.

City staff said that the municipal code allowed them to provide administrative approval, as was done here, in the case of events in which confidentiality is an issue. Community Resources Director Kelly Orta said that, before getting to the location approval, which legally had to be done in public, show organizers had to make arrangements with the broadcaster, and were contractually obligated to keep things secret. Councilmember Jeff Duclos pointed out that the city previously provided administrative approval for Jimmy Buffet to play on the beach during Shark Week in 2014.

“It doesn’t happen very often because we do want to as many events as possible go through the formal process. But it is something that we have used in the past,” Orta said.

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