Next Direct Modeling Competition - Hollywood Part 1
Drew and I headed to the airport on Friday morning with plenty of time to spare before our 2pm departure time. We parked in the economy parking lot and took the shuttle bus to the terminal. We made it through security (with the dvd player, leapster, cell phone, chargers, and camera) with relative ease, and had some time to walk around. We had some Chik-Fil-A for lunch - mmmmmmm - got some Twizzlers and gum for the plane and headed to the gate. After a few minutes, I thought I recognized one of the other boys from the competition. We had seen the Top 50 photos many times during and after the voting phase and a lot of the moms of the finalists had been chatting online leading up to big weekend so we knew that some of us would be traveling together. After chatting with the first boy and his Mom, another Mom came over and introduced her son who was also in the competition. And one more boy and his Dad were also on the flight with us too!! There were only 15 boys in the whole Top 50 and 4 of them were on our flight out!
Drew and the Phanatic at the airport!
Drew was excited for the plane ride (his very fist time - excluding one trip when he was only 5 months old) and did great during take off. He enjoyed looking out the window and seeing the ground getting further and further away until we were above the clouds. We read a book, some magazines, he watched some movies, played his video games, and only used the bathroom once or twice. :) It was almost a 6 hour flight, but we made it safely and landed in LA about 5pm PST. There was a driver waiting for us at the baggage claim, and one of the other boys and his Dad rode in the car with us to the hotel. It was about an hour ride with friday night traffic.
Around 6 pm, we arrived at the Sheraton Universal and checked in. The Next Direct staff welcomed us and gave Drew his straw hat and white superstar sunglasses. :) They gave us our schedule for the weekend in a cute little notebook and a goodie bag with snacks, water, tissues, sunscreen wipes and such. They also gave Drew two blue t shirts to be worn each day of the competition and one for me as well. They had broken the finalists up into 5 groups of 10 - by age - and gave each team a mascot from Madagascar (the movie) and a color. Drew was on the Skipper The Penguins team. Go Blue!!!
In the hotel restaurant for dinner Friday night
We were given vouchers for meals, so after we got our stuff up in the room and checked it all out, we went down and had some dinner. we met some of the other families, but were pretty tired with the time change, so we went up to bed by 8:30, 11:30 our time!!!
On Saturday, we had breakfast and met some more of the finalists and their parents. Then we had time to go back up to the room and get ready for a full day of activites at Milk Studios. We headed downstairs as soon as we were ready and Drew found some buddies to run around with outside for awhile. As it got close to 11, our team leaders started to appear. Each team started to gather in the lobby and our team leaders tried to keep the kids busy with some games while we waited. We ended up waiting a long time to get on the bus to Milk, and we got there around 12:30 or so I think. Once we were there, I definitely lost track of time!!
Races around the hotel pool
Getting together with team Blue!
Our team's first stop was the "play room". The kids were able to draw on a huge roll of paper on the floor, grab a quick snack, watch the magician who did some cool tricks with Drew, and got their pics taken for a fake OK magazine cover. It seemed like we weren't there for very long at all before we went to the dance room.
The first thing we saw was a huge white floor area that curved right up the wall. It was too tempting and a few of the boys ran right up on the wall leaving shoe marks to prove it! There were two men on the dance floor, Christian and Kelly, the choreographers. And then, off to the side, were four others, who turned out to be the judges! Two from Next, and two from Wilhelmina. The choreographers (C and K) took the kids on the dance fllor and got right into some introductionms and warm up games. Then they did some dancing in a circle where each kid took a turn in the middle. Drew really loved the dancing! They had some LOUD music playing and he just gets so into it! Gotta love him, he's not the best dancer, but you can just tell he feels it!
In the T - ball "ready position" ;)
We went out to take a bathroom break and then to lunch, but they called us back into the dance room to dance some more. C and K did a few more circle dances with the kids and then they worked out a whole number with each kid doing a different part of the routine. While we were there, Tony O (the DJ from Ellen) walked into the room to take a picture with one of the hosts! I was just a little star struck. I happened to be video taping the dancing when he came in and shreiked a little bit! ;)
We ate some lunch and then it was our turn to do photo shoots. They took four of the boys in our room and each boy got to sit in the hair and make-up chair and get "prettied up". Mostly, Drew got his nose wiped, and then she moved his hair around a little bit! When it was his turn the photographer made him really comfortable by making farting noises to get him to laugh and then Drew just started dancing because there was music playing. The photographer seems to really like it so he just went with it. Now that I've seen the photo shoot pictures, though, I wish they would've asked him to pose a bit more, or at least gotten hime to stand still for even one picture. Anyway, I think he had fun and did a great job.
Gotta have a clean nose!!!
Photo shoot! :)
Finally, we went to the fitting room, to get the kids' outfits for red carpet event on Sunday. They ended up switching Drew's shirt and shoes after his shoes didn't fit right and he looked really cute in the final outfit!
This was the original outfit that was changed
Team Blue! :)
Not sure about this pose, but love this face!!!
The Top 50
After that, we caught the bus back to the hotel, where we had planned to meet my cousin and his family and go to the City Walk for dinner. Unfortunately, there was a meeting with the judges scheduled smack in the middle of our break time, so we ended up hanging around the lobby for awhile, went to the meeting which ended up starting more than an hour late, and finally meeting my cousin and his family at the City Walk where they had already scored a table and had waited for us to get there to order! After we took a few pics with them, Drew and I walked around for awhile, stopping in some of the stores and watching some people try indoor parachuting (jumping from a plane - what's that called???) Again, it had gotten to be very late, so we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.