Today marks a special day in the history of AwardsCircuit. It was 12 years ago, this little entertainment site this side of the internet launched officially to a modest group of movie lovers. Catapulting off the success of “The Oscar Igloo,” a site that was started by Johnny Alba, we decided not just to change the name, but with Alba venturing back to his native country of Portugal, the leadership of the site would also change.
A 23-year-old Clayton Davis was a much different version echoing within the chambers of the New York/New Jersey metro area. I was in finishing up my third and final year teaching at a Catholic high school in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The school was doing its first round of layoffs due to low enrollment, something that is plaguing Catholic schools all across the United States and around the world. That school would finally shutter its doors in the last two years.
Taking on a website, with no experience in HTML, let alone hardcore journalism, this Communications and American Studies major ventured off into the unknown realm anyway.
Taking volunteers from across the globe, including some of the OG’s from the Igloo days, including Joey Magidson, who is still here today, there were tons of trials, outward mistakes, and rough and choppy waters. In 2008, the financial crash had a significant impact on the economic world. Following my teaching career, I would run the gamut of different career choices including a Sales and Marketing representative at Liberty Science Center, a Human Resources Manager at Toys R’ Us, a phone and cable telephone salesman at Verizon, an Admissions Representative at a technical college, and a career planning specialist at a beauty school. All jobs brought both exciting and afflicting challenges. All along the way, I continued to do my best to nurture this little secret that I was a film and tv reviewer and awards analyst for this media site called AwardsCircuit.
I should also note, with those jobs came additional challenges, including financial constraints, personal bouts through depression, getting over young adult love and relationships, and anything else that life had decided to throw out at any given moment. Doing the very best, you can is a daily challenge that individuals often say as if it is a “given” to your outlook on any situation that arises. Some days are easier than others for sure, while others are quite daunting on the soul, but at the end of it, I’m still here, and if you’re reading this, and you feel similar to what I just described than you are still here too. That is a blessing.
So what’s ahead for us here on the site? Well, we have to adapt accordingly. We had big plans for a big reveal today of a new experience for the readers and users on the site. With studios reshaping their film year, and the fall plans being very much in flux in terms of festivals and awards season, we had to trim back on many items we wanted to implement to be prepared if something drastic like a “no Oscar ceremony” happens in 2021, which can still feasibly occur.
On Monday, May 4, you will see a NEW AwardsCircuit roll out with quite a bit of interactive items for all our readers to indulge that will include:
- Movie/TV ratings, providing an average score on all films and tv shows, no matter the period
- Actor/Technical crew ratings with bios and filmography
- User Profiles with full functionality for avatars, walls, postings, comments, friend requests, and to display achievements along the way. All of it to be heavily guarded and to promote “positive energy” and an ability to dismiss the “trolls.”
- Polls, Quizzes, and Daily Question interaction, all with record-keeping for the user profile, and a way to submit your own for others to engage.
- A user ranking system that will be heavily geared towards promoting and educating entertainment lovers on all the different facets of cinema and where it can lead you.
- Ability to create groups, along with a global leaderboard to highlight the most engaged and prolific readers of AwardsCircuit, and that put you in a position to win some fantastic items and even cash.
- Newly styled official prediction pages for all award shows. This means that “The Circuit Hub” as you know it will be deactivated this weekend, with its functionality and commentary being brought into “one house” and more regularly updated.
- And much, much more.
As we launch this BETA version this on Monday, there might be some kinks along the way. We ask for you to be patient during this time, and there will even be a comfortable place to report any issues you see or find.
It costs a lot to keep the lights on in these parts, and we know how supportive you’ve all been just based on your interaction with us on social media, and the near million of you that visit our home each and every month. There are some potentially tough times ahead, and we are adjusting to ensure we don’t have to turn off the lights at any point, as many amazing and entertaining sites have done over the years.
We ask if you can, support us in any number of ways:
- Become a Patreon and give a monthly donation to the site, that will help us continue to deliver great content. Click here
- Buy from the CIRCUIT STORE and pick up your favorite piece of AwardsCircuit items that come in the form of clothing, school supplies, and household items. Click here.
- Make a one-time, generous donation to AwardsCircuit via Paypal. Any amount goes a long way, and even one time can make the difference. Click here.
We’re going to look a lot different on Monday, May 4 (“May the Fourth Be With You”), but we will still be the same nerd-obsessed, friendly-having, news-bringing, entertainment-loving guys and gals you’ve grown to love over the last 12 years.
Looking at this through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the world, the United States, but especially my local community is one of those daily challenges. With that, I’m looking at today as a positive, and the glass is half full. I should share that precisely nine days after I started AwardsCircuit, one of my great friends Adriana invited me to a 21st birthday party for one of her friend’s friends. Adriana’s friend’s name was Pamela. Pamela is today, one of my very best friends. Pamela’s friend, whose birthday was being celebrated, was a future Jessica Davis. Life throws you gems when you least expect it. Once in a while, those gems are full-on rare diamonds, that you know that you don’t deserve them, but then you’ll end up spending the rest of your life trying to justify such a gift.
Over the next twelve years, I’ve loved her, married her, and had two spectacular children with her. To move away from the sappy nature of this, I’ll also share a story in which I call, “The Unfair Expectations of Your Significant Other.”
You’ve probably heard this story before on a podcast but bear with me if you have:
In late 2009, I received my very first movie premiere invite to Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers,” starring Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Jessica and I, at this point, have been officially boyfriend-girlfriend for about six months. I was given a plus one and naturally decided to take my girlfriend. The day of the premiere comes, and Jessica has been giving me attitude all day.
“Why?” you may ask.
Clayton Davis is an avid lover and admirer of the hit show “Friends” and try to apply its antics and memorable moments to different pieces of my life, no matter how ridiculous. So early on in our relationship, Jessica and I came up with our “laminated five” – which refers to the episode of “Friends” in which Ross and Rachel make their five celebrities they’re allowed to have sex with no consequences from their significant other. At this point in my immature life, Natalie Portman was on my list. Jessica was mad because she was (sort of?) convinced that I would be making my move this evening. Before we left, and with all the assurances I could provide, I said to her, “Listen, one of your five could be there too like Terence Howard, and I’m sure you would go nuts for him.”
Jessica says to me, “I would NOT because I would NEVER do that.”
Fast forward to the premiere, where we are at Cinepolis Chelsea, and we are in the lobby area where they have free concessions and a multitude of stars packed into one room. The likes of Bill Pullman, Jessica Lange, and the late Sam Shepard were there, whom we met and were as delightful as you can imagine.
As we are standing, which I can only say is literally in the center of the room, where it perfectly lines up with the front door, with a clear pathway to our area, someone walks in. It’s Terence Howard. The Academy Award nominated star of “Hustle & Flow” and “Crash.” Mr. Howard was on Jessica’s “list.”
Terence Howard walks directly up to us, and funnily says, “where’s the popcorn?”
I point to my left and simply say “over there.” That’s about three steps away from where we are still standing. Jessica’s eyes have lit up. Clayton, trying to “prove a point,” says to Jessica, “You see! Look who’s here! And you know what, I’ll even introduce you.”
I had never met Terence Howard before and did not know what was going to happen, but I was convinced to prove some unknown point that might have been labeled “meet your sex crush so I can meet mine and you won’t get mad, even though we both know we’re not going to try, nor will we score with any of them.”
I walked up to Terence Howard and said, “my girlfriend is a big fan of yours. Would you mind saying hello to her?”
“Absolutely,” Terence says.
We walk back over to Jessica, and he shakes Jessica’s hand and says “hello” in the suave way we would expect him to do. However, their eyes are locked…and still shaking hands.
In his soft, pleasant way, he says, “thank you so much for your support.”
Jessica continues to stare at him like she’s under a spell. A spell similar to the one Skeet Ulrich was under in the 90s cult classic “The Craft.”
And then he goes in and kisses her on the cheek BUT let me clue you all in on something. I am a Latino/Black man. Jessica is a Latina woman. In our cultures, we kiss on the cheek every damn day, even when we meet someone, we kiss on the cheek. However, in our culture, it frequently does NOT involve our lips actually touching the other person’s cheek, rather just cheek-to-cheek as the great Fred Astaire would sing.
At this moment, Terence Howard put his lips dangerously close to my girlfriend/future wife/future mother of my children’s lips, which resulted in Jessica, who had her other hand in her pocket at the time, to CRUSH her lip gloss, breaking it into several pieces.
Terence would walk away, and I would spend the next several minutes analyzing if I had a new secret power for invisibility or one for managing the most significant miscalculation in modern American Man history.
Fast forward one more time to after the watching of the movie. We walked to a restaurant that had been rented out by distributor Lionsgate and guess who we run into? Natalie, “the woman who is on Clayton’s laminated five” Portman.
At this point, Clayton is out for vengeance. He is on a mission to prove ANOTHER point. “What point?” you ask.
I have no God damn idea.
I approach Natalie Portman, in a loud venue, in which no one can hear anything, and tell her, “I’m a big fan of yours.” After several instances of “WHAT?” and “OH, THANK YOU” – I asked if I could take a picture with her. She responded with “YEAH I GUESS” and a face of annoyance that any guy who meets a girl and has eyes can know, she’s not interested in talking to you any further and you should probably go away.
We take a picture, in which Natalie’s mouth is shoved to the corner of her face, totally unprepared, and oh, by the way, the photo was taken by none other than Jessica.
Natalie’s assistant or publicist came up immediately afterward and asked me if I was “paparazzi.” After I responded that I was not, she told me pretty harshly, “don’t post that anywhere. Natalie would appreciate that.”
I agreed, and sometime later, Jessica and I walked out of the venue to go home. Jessica sat in the passenger side of the car, with a demeanor and arrogance I’ve never seen nor witnessed from a person. She also had this gravy to put on the top of the delicious Sundae of confidence she just earned. It was a gravy of “victory.” She won a game that I didn’t even know we were playing and that she positioned in a way that any other outcome would be impossible to imagine. I loved her but loathed the very idea that she could be so calculated, and it was the only time I acknowledged to myself that “I was not playing checkers anymore…I was playing chess.”
Spoiler alert. Clayton did NOT, and STILL does NOT know how to play chess.
I leave her with a big thank you to my astounding team of writers, both old and new, all the studio executives, publicists, talents, and industry professionals that continue to trust our word, and most importantly, the one who reads this each day…YOU, the reader. Continuously and probably more than you can ever fathom, there is a man in the NYC Metro Area, that you continue to provide reason and purpose, and he can’t thank you enough.
With all the love in the world, and promoting safe and healthy social distancing,
Happy Birthday, AwardsCircuit!