I Can Get That For You Free: Backstage at the
Teen Choice Awards Talent Retreat

“How much will you give me to drink this whole bottle of Rainbath?” Tom Green wanted to know. He was standing in the Backstage Creations Talent Retreat at the FOX Teen Choice Awards, August 4 at the Universal Amphitheatre. Fourteen companies had put up displays in the patio, next to the green room, so that stars could browse products ranging from Steve Madden shoes to Hello Kitty purses, and take anything they wanted, for free. “An intimate contact with a celebrity is priceless,” noted one publicist. Although we’re not sure she meant the potential contact between the Neutrogena Rainbath (a shower gel whose main ingredient is Sodium Laureth Sulfate) and the back of Green’s throat.

Not to worry. When Green found out that his reward for chugging the bottle would simply be another bottle, he plopped the untasted product into his oversize black leather satchel from Wilsons Leather. Like many of the stars, after his trip to the various goody buffets, he was lugging several pounds of free stuff.

All day, celebrities passed between the green room and Talent Retreat.  For the Teen Choice Awards, the green room was the House of Blues lounge, located way below the theater. The Rock sat on one couch, while deejay Big Boy took up much of another. “I just got me a Hello Kitty toaster,” he announced. “That’s good, man.” Tim Allen munched sesame chicken nuggets. Tara Lipinski, clad in a knit tube top and a tiny, faded denim miniskirt, sat on the couch and plucked one piece of watermelon from a big fruit platter.

Pamela Anderson came in, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, relaxing on the couch with Jamie Kennedy, waved her over to say hello. Then Selma Blair showed up in her bizarre black-sparkled miniskirt, dragging Reese Witherspoon with her before the two went onstage.

Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc opened the door and alighted briefly on the patio, but they were only looking for a place to smoke. They cut between the Neutrogena Men’s product display and the Guess watches table, and hit a backstage loading dock to indulge themselves. (Ten minutes later, an LA County Fire Marshal, who must have a very sensitive nose, came out to look for smokers, who were not allowed on the patio. The loading dock was okay.)

Matthew and Matt even bypassed the table of Eclipse “Flash Strips,” which is Wrigley’s version of the newly popular little clear strips that melt in your mouth and deliver a mint taste without having to chew. The flavors are peppermint and cinnamon. They come in neat little matchbook-sized plastic cases. “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest stuck one into the front of his jeans. “No bulge in the pocket,” he observed. “That’s key.”

Eve looked cool and sophisticated in her pink Chanel bustier and matching necklace, platinum hair pulled back in a ponytail. “I don’t have a boyfriend right now to give this to,” she said as she spritzed Voodoo body spray from Axe, which is sweet and intense, and Tsunami, a light ocean scent. “Maybe this stuff will help!”

Jamie Lyn Spears did the goody-collecting for her sister, Britney. Britney, Jamie-Lyn and mom Lynne all wear the same shoe size—6—so they picked up matching, turquoise-trimmed sandals at the Steve Madden booth. At the Hello Kitty booth, Jamie-Lyn spied the new toaster, which actually imprints a piece of bread with Kitty’s distinctive, mouthless face. “Ooh, my sister has one, I want one too!” she declared. Lynne was in the middle of arranging to have the heavy toaster delivered, when her daughter picked it up and hugged it. “I want to have it now,” she purred.

Carmen Electra found one perfect item at Kitty’s stand: a pink Hello Kitty guitar pick, which shows our cat strumming a little pink guitar. “Finally, something for my fiancÚ! (Dave Navarro)” she said. She also grabbed a crystal belt buckle emblazoned “Sugar,” in pink and white crystals, by Malibu designer JenStone.

Tim Allen confessed he’s afraid of cats. He was more excited by the Sprint team, who were giving away Sprint’s tiny, 2.8-ounce LG phone. The phone comes pre-programmed with two months of free talk time. “This is a perfect way to find out if I like Sprint PCS,” said Allen, sounding like he was embarking on a possible second career as a phone-service pitchman. “This is sick,” said Jamie Kennedy, on finding out that he too could grab a free phone and gab away for the next 60 days. “Insane.”

The Talent Retreat, which is produced by Backstage Creations, a Santa Monica company headed by Karen Wood, is becoming part of the fun at many awards shows. This year, it got the ultimate seal of current Hollywood approval: a visit by the Osbournes. Kelly and Jack trooped in along with their camera crew to tape their visit for an upcoming episode of their MTV show. Kelly announced, “I love the Neutrogena Clear Body Wash!”


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