The red carpet treatment


When you think of a “red carpet” event in February, the Academy Awards come to mind. This year’s will be the 84th presentation of Hollywood’s annual orgy of self-congratulations but it is not the first time a red carpet has been laid out as a gesture of honor. For that, we have to go back to ancient Greece and the aftermath of the Trojan War, but for now we’ll talk about another path the carpet took.

More recently, a Warwick couple is offering the red carpet treatment to anyone who wants it, provided, of course, they pay. Cindy Moreau and Marc Doane got the idea of offering the red carpet treatment on a broader scale after Marc’s friend Gary Christenson was elected Mayor of the city of Malden in Massachusetts.

“We thought it would be a good idea to do the inauguration as a typical red carpet event, with people arriving in cars and being interviewed as they enter,” said Doane. “That worked out very well and we saw the possibilities of offering the red carpet treatment for any number of events; corporate conferences, new businesses…there were a lot of possibilities to look into.”

Cindy, who is a sales executive for Verizon in Providence, was a communications major at Rhode Island College and interned at a local television station. She was familiar with covering events the way professional journalists do and her own on-camera experience has left her with an easy but enthusiastic manner that is perfectly suited to red carpet interviews.

“Of course, Cindy was a natural fit for it,” said Marc, “and my experience as a photographer added up to something we can do, and do well. This was a chance to take a video business in a different direction and offer some great production values to make special events more memorable for everyone.”

Of course, getting the red carpet treatment is generally taken as having people ceremoniously arrive at an event, walk conspicuously down the middle of the carpet, pause for an interview about what you are wearing, how you are feeling and just about anything else that turns televised awards ceremonies into special events for dress designers, jewelers and limo services.

Doane and Moreau are aware that people have budgets but they still think they can turn a relatively modest budget into a red carpet one and their fees are based on the amount of time, the venue and whether you want duplicates and all the other variables that professional video producers offer.

“We just negotiated an event, a wedding, and we managed to bring our service into it within their budget,” said Moreau, “which came to about $800.”

But Moreau hastens to add that events that require more are going to cost more.

“Take the inauguration [in Malden],” she suggested. “That was a six-hour affair. After paying for everything and everyone, it can cost a lot, but, again, it depends on what you want.”

According to most accounts, the red carpet did mean something back in the early history of our nation, as evidenced when President James Monroe ascended the stairs at the Prospect Hill Plantation on a swathe of red carpet, thus making the carpet a symbol of exceptional hospitality. The next time that red carpet is generally associated with exceptional hospitality is on the luxurious 20th Century Limited, the famous flag steam locomotive of the New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967. Passengers walked to the bullet-shaped train and streamlined cars on a plush red carpet; to board what was that day’s equivalent of the Concorde SST.

These days, the color of the carpet is irrelevant. If you use blue or green or brown carpet and do the same routine, people will still call it the “red carpet” treatment.

But it was Hollywood and television that put the red in the carpet and made “putting out the red carpet” a household term.

“I always associated it with old Hollywood premieres and the [Grauman’s] Chinese Theatre,” said Marc. “I think that’s what most people associate it with. But I think people will enjoy having an event get the same treatment, whether it’s a wedding, a bar mitzvah, an anniversary, just about anything you want to make memorable…and fun.”

As Doane and Moreau developed their red carpet event for the inauguration in Malden, they pieced together a business plan and soon had a second client. This time it was Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios’ launch of "Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" on Feb. 6, when hundreds of people in Boston, Baltimore and Tempe waited for the midnight launch of the new game from the company Schilling started with the help of a loan from Rhode Island.

Moreau and Doane now have their website up and running and are already planning more premiere events that can be customized to suit any client.

“We used our own backdrop for events so far,” said Doane, “But we can take anyone’s logo and make a backdrop with it. We can make special graphics for microphones. The idea is that anything is possible with this.”

There is little that the couple can do to “protect” their idea beyond trade marking their own logo but they feel that their identity and reputation will make them successful, no matter who else tries to compete.

“What we have to offer is the talent and the resourcefulness,” said Moreau. “We have got the experience and the expertise to offer the best production values you can ask for and that’s what is going to make this work.”

Let’s just hope that Your Red Carpet Event never comes to what the first red carpet led to. For that, we go back to our old friend Aeschylus, the Greek playwright. He came from a theatre family and, like the Ford Coppola family of our own time, won the equivalent of Academy Awards. Aeschylus married and had two sons, Euphorion and Euaeon, both of whom became tragic poets. Euphorion won first prize in 431 in competition against both Sophocles and Euripides. Philocles, who was his sister's kid, was also a tragic poet, and won first prize in the competition against Sophocles’ "Oedipus Rex" (That must have been all politics: Philocles got it because he was the nephew of Aeschylus, but when’s the last time you saw a play by Philocles? "Rex" should have taken the prize that year).

Agamemnon was a favorite subject for dramatists because he was such an evil, egotistical and tyrannical leader who spent freely the blood and treasure of his countrymen in the essentially stupid Trojan War. In Aeschylus’ play "Agamemnon," Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at Troy. Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia. Her death appeased Artemis, and the Greek army set out for Troy. Agamemnon's chief fault was his overwhelming haughtiness; an over-exalted opinion of his position that led him to insult Chryses and Achilles, thereby bringing great disaster upon the Greeks.

In Aeschylus’ play, Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra lays down a carpet, red or purple, to trick her husband into thinking he’s getting a suitable welcome home according to one translation:

“Clytemnestra flatters him with his victories, and as he steps down onto the carpet, its vivid redness makes it look like an angry open wound, its colour representing the blood he spilt by sacrificing his virginal daughter, and the blood that is about to be spilt... His blood."

For the carpet leads him into his palace and to his own death. The carpet takes him through the palace door, which Clytemnestra closes behind him. It reopens some minutes later with Clytemnestra triumphantly holding an axe aloft as Agamemnon's body lies lifeless at her feet on the blood-saturated carpet.

"That he might not escape nor ward away his death, like one who catches fish, I cast around him a net with no way out," she exclaims. "I struck him twice and with two great cries he buckled at the knees and fell and belched out his life. As he died, he poured forth his blood and splattered me with a dark and crimson rain, and I rejoiced as the sown corn rejoices, drenched with god-given showers when buds break forth in spring.”

On second thought, maybe I’ll use the servant’s entrance.

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