The formula: 60 presenters (brilliant people: MacArthurs, Oscars, Emmys, Pulitzers; living national treasures; rising stars not yet known; technologists, magicians, musicians, entertainers --- some of the most luminous creative forces in our culture today); an audience of comparable caliber; three days on the mountaintop Getty campus; and fantastic food. LA is without a doubt the most dynamic and surprising city in America, and EG is the conference to attend. Intimate, fun and interesting as hell.
You're always happiest when something's entering or leaving the body, so let's start with food. Jonathan Gold, the only critic to win a Pulitzer for food criticism, has curated a dinner of food of the world inspired by some of the great culinary talents of LA --- a Cambodian chef from Long Beach, a Oaxacan master, a Japanese-Peruvian genius, a Burmese man, etc. Chef Ann Cooper (the renegade lunch lady from Berkeley) is presenting and sparking a healthy lunch. Mark Bittman (maybe the best selling cookbook author in the world, and the NY Times' food guy) is presenting. Faith d'Aluisio and Peter Menzel (of Hungry Planet) fame are showing their work. TCHO (a new chocolate company) is giving out their new creations. Harry Winston (the sparkling jeweler) is sponsoring the closing finale toast, with fabulous champagne and Imperia vodka.
People? Last year, Yo-Yo Ma played the cello. Nicholas Negroponte gave a preview of his new creation. Quincy Jones reminisced about a life in music. Frank Gehry talked about his life in architecture. Matt Groening gave a sneak preview of the new Simpsons movie, and Jeff Katzenberg showed the future of Shrek. Will Wright demonstrated the future of video games. A partial list of eg presenters is on the web site. Sidney Poitier attended last year. So did Salma Hayek. I wonder if they expected to meet Marvin Minsky?
Agenda? Nope. There are at least 60 agendas --- every presenter has their own cut on the future. Not to mention the audience. This is one of the few conferences that is audacious enough to not frame an artificial agenda.
As for me, I probably wouldn't be running eg if it weren't for the fact that I had such a wonderful time last year playing the Chopin 'cello sonata with Yo-Yo Ma. Not something we expected to do, but there we were, and it was a slice of heaven for us (and for most everyone, I think). I am sure everyone at EG will find their own music, and come away enormously enriched.
People have told me this is like TED when TED was young. The presenters are fresh, and the feeling will be intimate. How often do you get a chance to be part of a new movement like that, right smack in the sweet spot of the forces that inspire so much in society?