Oscars 2015: Event planner Cheryl Cecchetto shares her success story in new book ‘Passion to Create’Written by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
It may be surprising to read that Hollywood event planner Cheryl Cecchetto is an award-winning accordion player.
Then again, the accordion just may be the perfect instrument for Cecchetto.
The go-to event planner for the post-Oscars Governors Ball is adept at multitasking, a needed skill to the play the Germanic instrument.
“It’s very much a multitasking situation.” Cecchetto said in an interview with Toledo Free Press. “That’s truly what a director and producer does.”
The Canadian-born Cecchetto actually gave up her career as an accordionist to become an actress.
“For me, even though I loved the instrument so much, it wasn’t expressive enough,” she said. “I needed to use my voice and my arms and my legs and run around and talk and wave and whatever.”
But she said music will always be in her blood.
“Music hasn’t let go,” she said.
Her new book, “Passion to Create: Your Invitation to Celebrate,” offers another way for Cecchetto to express herself. Published Dec. 30 by New Holland Publishers, it details her life, her career and some fantastic behind-the-scenes stories from inside Hollywood’s biggest parties.
Cecchetto and her team at Sequoia Productions are currently putting the finishing touches on the Governors Ball, which will take place immediately after the Academy Awards on Feb. 22. Reached with just a quick walk upstairs to the ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, this exclusive party for Oscar nominees, winners and invited guests is as glamorous as it gets.
This year’s ball, Cecchetto’s 26th consecutive year as producer, will celebrate the history, glamour and artistry of Hollywood, with tributes to icons of cinema past.
While planning big events in Hollywood and around the world in 2014, Cecchetto was also busy finalizing her book.
Cecchetto’s manager, Steven McArthur, suggested finishing the book as soon as possible, to coincide with her company’s 25th year.
“It was a lot of work,” she said. “It nearly killed me.”
Over 25 years, Cecchetto said, her career has been quite the journey and evolution.
“I think that my events have gone from — oh my goodness, 25 years ago — tablecloths and florals and now, they’re into full-out productions and now they’re theatrical and now, [I have] the book,” she said.
“Passion to Create” focuses on four concepts, according to Cecchetto: How she got here, ideas and inspiration, great Hollywood stories and giving back.
In the book, she shares details about being an assistant for Shelley Winters for a year, as well as appearing as an extra in TV shows like “The Golden Girls.”
To pay her bills while an unemployed actress in Los Angeles, she took catering jobs. Nearly three decades ago, she started managing events for one company, Ambrosia, and that’s when she landed her first Oscars gig.
She helped plan and manage her first Governors Ball.
“It was a beautiful evening,” she writes. “That first Governors Ball created business relationships and friendships among us, lasting to this day.”
One of the 10 chapters in this coffee-table book aims at helping readers plan their own events. From weddings to parties, Cecchetto shares tips, tricks and timelines. Each chapter also ends in a recipe that is representative of the preceding theme.
Need Oscar party planning tips? Cecchetto provides 10 must-haves for your celebration on page 247.
“With a little ingenuity, and the readily available reference points that are out there, the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard is as close as the end of your own driveway,” she writes.
Juxtaposed against her tales of planning lavish parties, Cecchetto also writes about paying it forward.
Her parties help employ skilled craftsmen, technicians and waiters. Food overages are donated. This was important to her, especially during the recession.
“We are, all of us, honored with the opportunity to share our blessings whenever and however we can,” she writes.
The book also explores lessons learned and wisdom gained.
In Chapter 9 titled, “What’s It All About?” Cecchetto touches on technology and the need to live in the present.
“Time flies so hang up your (not so) smartphone! Your life is calling,” she writes.
Talking about the future, Cecchetto writes that time is a mindset.
“Is the best yet to come?” she asks. “I believe the best is here today and in this moment.”
Every day is a celebration for Cecchetto. A celebration can simply be having a conversation.
“Celebration doesn’t have to be a cake and a fork and a glass of Champagne,” she said. “It can be so much more, on so many levels.”
But it’s also about giving back.
“If we’re going to celebrate, let’s celebrate for someone else, somewhere else, somehow else — to make it all worth it,” she said.