So, together with my loyal team of theater critics, I launched the first L.A. Weekly Theater Awards. Like many of the theaters whose work we honored, the Weekly was still a struggling upstart. But Milt Larsen liked the idea enough to make a generous deal for the use of his Variety Arts Center downtown, which was a great break for us. Thanks to Milt we had a stage, lights; we could project slides of the shows themselves and the categories of the awards. We were doing a little of what the smaller theaters were doing, presenting a show without much of a budget.
We spent a long night hashing through our list of nominees and winners. Each critic had his or her favorite productions and performances. If one of us got excited about a show, we encouraged the others to see it, too. I often went to see shows other critics on the team had loved or hated. There were many weeks when I saw six or seven plays.
Soon we were able to entice celebrities to participate. Michael Douglas, one of our founding directors, volunteered to present the awards in the early years. Later, Georgia Brown and Carol Channing were guest hosts.
The winners of our L.A. Weekly awards posted their certificates in the lobbies of their theaters and mentioned them in their programs. I was as proud as they were. The L.A. Weekly, which started as no more than an overly ambitious idea, was already becoming a Los Angeles institution.