After much anticipation, it’s finally Oscar time
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The big day is here.Anticipation for the Academy Awards has been building all week, and finally, it’s time.The entire area around the Kodak Theatre is closed. Traffic is shut down on Hollywood Boulevard. Tourists can only get as close to the action as barricades and security will let them.The stars are ready for their red-carpet arrivals, and the theater is ready to host the movie industry’s biggest night.Here’s the latest:___BLEACHER CREATURES: Don’t show up in front of the Kodak Theatre hoping to get a spot in the bleachers with the fans. Most of them planned six months in advance, registering online for a ticket lottery. Exactly 705 people won seats in the bleachers. They show up early, go through metal detectors and camp out for hours before the red carpet parade really starts. Some groups wear matching shirts and others plan their vacations around the event. Rick Grimaldi, 64, a dentist from Connellsville, Penn., brought his wife and daughter to Los Angeles for a long weekend. He said his patients back home were “insanely jealous. We got phone calls from people saying, ‘You lucky dog.'”___OSCARS WEATHER UPDATE: Mother Nature was having her way with the Academy Awards red carpet. First the sun blasted through the clear plastic tarp, baking the fans in the bleachers. Then a sprinkle of rain fell. Drops of rain caused hot lights to explode. At first, fans were startled, but after three booms, they stopped jumping up to see what had happened and went back to screaming at Ryan Seacrest.___THE WORKING FAMOUS: Fans waited hours in the sunshine before celebrities began to show up on the red carpet. The tedium was broken only by boxed lunches and watching TV crews set up. So when Mary Hart, the longtime host of Entertainment Tonight, stepped out to record teases for her show, the bleachers went crazy. Hart teetered on a wooden box, surrounded by a phalanx of cameras, lights, makeup artists and crew. A director cued the crowd to cheer and they obliged”We have to cheer on cue and I’m getting hoarse,” said Cindy Callihan, a retired administrative assistant from Riverside.”I’m just waving and smiling. No screaming for me,” said her friend, April Talbot.Hart stopped to chat with fans, telling Pauline An, a bleacher fan who came from Golden, Colo., about how she started work at 10 a.m.”Mary’s so sweet,” cooed Bobbye Welch, 63, a legal secretary from the San Fernando Valley.___OSCARS? WHAT OSCARS?: Angelenos studiously avoid the traffic nightmare that is Hollywood on Oscar weekend. Metro trains bypass the station underneath the red carpet all day Sunday and freeway exits are temporarily closed. Parking, which is never easy, becomes impossible. But tourists are often surprised to run into so much hubbub.”Why are the streets closed?” asked Metta Kurniawan, 19, a petite young woman from Indonesia who was lugging two huge suitcases. She and her bleary-eyed friends, who had just arrived on an early bus from Las Vegas Sunday, had no idea that the Academy Awards would be held there in a few hours.A police officer patiently explained that they’d have to walk several blocks out of their way to get around the red carpet.”I’m crying now,” Vicky Koo, 21, said. “I’m so tired.”___BLOGGERS: Just in case there isn’t enough Internet buzz about the Oscar red carpet, the motion picture academy and sponsor Kodak invited a few bloggers to tweet from the fan bleachers this year.Marsha Takeda-Morrison, who blogs about parenting in Los Angeles at SweatPantsMom.com, posted a link to a photo of herself on Twitter. “Me on (OK – near) the Red Carpet!” she tweeted. “I think the companies are starting to see the power of social media and word of mouth,” Takeda-Morrison said as she took her seat.Her friend and fellow blogger Donna Schwartz Mills, who writes SoCalMom.net, tweeted to an online friend, “If I get the chance to kiss Colin Firth, I’ll tell my husband it’s for you.”Mills was rooting for “Up” or “Avatar” to win on behalf of her 13-year-old daughter. She said she wants Jeff Bridges to win best actor, because “he’s always good and he’s been overlooked for so many years.” Bloggers on the carpet “adds a more personal touch,” she said.___STEP BACK FROM THE CARPET!: Security has gotten tighter every year since the Academy Awards moved to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, according to residents of the area. Onlookers on Sunday could only gaze at the end of the red carpet from across the street and behind a chain-link fence that confined them to the sidewalk.”I have no idea what they’re looking at, because it’s just an empty carpet now,” said 20-year Hollywood resident Alex Constantine, who was drinking his morning coffee outside a Starbuck’s on Hollywood Boulevard. “I don’t mind the commotion but security seems to be clamping down more every year.”People were lining up a block away, waiting for police officers to let them approach the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and snap photos of the red carpet.”The security is excessive, completely exaggerated,” said Alfonso Puicercus, a hotel manager from Barcelona, Spain, who wanted to see the red carpet for himself. “They treat these stars like gods who can’t mix with the rest of us. But they’re not.”The motion picture academy does not comment on security issues, but Oscar veterans suggest the increased restrictions have more to do with worldwide terrorism than star treatment.___GREENHOUSE EFFECT: Workers erected a clear plastic tarp above the Oscar red carpet to keep the rain off during Saturday’s overnight storm. But it was still up on Sunday morning, and even though it was only 65 degrees outside at noon, the Southern California sunshine created a greenhouse effect on the carpet underneath.It was even worse in the fan bleachers, where the sun beat down through the tarp and cooked the eager folks awaiting the parade of stars. People who came with sweaters and jackets and ready for a drizzle, stripped down to T-shirts and tank tops, fanning themselves with magazines. Others took refuge in the shade behind the bleachers.Squinting fans slathered on sunscreen they found in the motion picture academy’s gift bag and waited for the sun to set behind the building and for the stars to come out.___GOVERNORS BALL, TAKE ONE: Reporters, vendors and other non-famous folks had a chance to party like movie stars Saturday at the Governors Ball preview.Guests got a glimpse at the art-deco, supper-club setting inside Hollywood & Highland’s grand ballroom. They sampled the paella, sushi and tiny crab cakes that A-listers will eat Sunday after the telecast. Hundreds of waiters and the 18 members of the ball’s all-girl band will wear costumes designed by party organizer Jeffrey Kurland.”This is the first time we are extending the look and feel of the ball to the actual staff,” he said, adding, “there will be 18 women in the orchestra dressed in the same gown.”He also called attention to the ball’s new engraving station, where Oscar winners can have their trophies personalized instantly on site (winners used to have to send the statuettes to the film academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills to have their engraved nameplates attached).Cheryl Cecchetto, who has designed Oscar’s after-party for 23 years, said they were very proud of the fiber-optic crystal chandeliers and recessed lighting.”We’re very proud of this year,” she said. “And we’ll make it even better next year.”___MIXED COMPANY: Monks mingled next to former General Motors employees at one especially electric Oscar soiree.HBO honored the subjects and filmmakers from Oscar-nominated documentary films at a posh Saturday evening party in the Veranda Room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Attendees included “Super Size Me” filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and Paul “Popeye” Hurst, a bearded toolmaker featured in “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” from filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert.”I don’t care about the rules,” Hurst joked while chatting with partygoers. “If they win, I’m going up on stage.”Former Washington governor and right-to-die advocate Booth Gardner, subject of “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” from Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher, planted himself at a table near a piano player while disabled Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Prudence Mabhena, subject of “Music by Prudence” from Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett, chatted with guests around the room.Jon Alpret, co-director of the Oscar-nominated short documentary “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province,” cheerfully introduced his mother – his date to Sunday’s ceremony – to other partygoers. The longtime documentary filmmaker said he was enthusiastic about his first Oscar nomination but acknowledged he wasn’t totally in his element at the ritzy affair.”Anything in Beverly Hills makes me feel weird,” he said.____BEAM ME UP, OSCAR: It takes a star ship crew.The three-person Oscar-nominated makeup team for “Star Trek” were quick to point out that it took dozens of hair and makeup artists to bring the Vulcans, Romulans and other species to life in the reimagined “Trek” during a Saturday afternoon symposium featuring this year’s batch of Oscar-nominated hair and makeup artists.”We’re thrilled there were 40-plus makeup artists, 12 of which are out here today, who stood beside us,” said “Trek” makeup department head Mindy Hall at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “They weren’t behind us. They were beside us, taking the designs and bringing them to life.”Clips highlighting the work from the three nominated films were shown, and nominees took questions from the audience. The “Trek” makeup team, which also includes alien designers Joel Harlow and Barney Burman, revealed they went through seven different designs for the villainous blunt foreheaded Romulan race.Other panelists included “Il Divo” hairstylist Aldo Signoretti. (“Il Divo” makeup artist Vittorio Sodano won’t be attending the Oscars due to a death in his family. The hair and makeup team from “The Young Victoria,” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore, missed Saturday’s panel because the Brits were stuck at the airport.)___
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