I am a huge Oscar fan. I love the excitement, the contest, the celebrity. The Academy Awards are my favorite night of TV every year. This year, I got a new view of the event as I was thrilled to sit in the bleachers by the Red Carpet and watch the day unfold.
I am not a big “celeb-spotter”. When I see someone famous, I am interested, but if they are in a restaurant or the mall, i think they deserve a measure of privacy. I also got my fill of celebs about 20 years ago. I was staying at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel on vacation with my friends Jonathan and Valerie, we stumbled across a small crowd in the lobby waiting for the conclusion of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony (I think for Robert DeNiro). About 20 minutes later, the ballroom doors opened a flood of pretty much every celebrity passed by us. Some friendly. Some in a hurry. It was famous people overload and I think served me well for massive star power.
But seeing the best of movie stars pass by you in their finest on the Hollywood’s biggest night is a thrill unto itself. To reflect the fun day, I’ll be posting a few separate entires rather than one massive one.
How Did I Get the Tickets? How Can You Get Tickets?
My student cantor Lizzie Weiss (Thanks, Lizzie!) connected my to an auction at Dream Street, a great organization that provides camping programs for kids with chronic and life threatening diseases – NOT the boy band from 1999-2002. They were having a last minute auction for a bunch of tickets. I tossed in a bid and a few days later was told I had won 2 tickets. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently gives out these 700 or so bleacher seats through raffles, charities, and various other means. We met people from Hurricane Sandy who also got plane and hotel covered, many many military members, and a fair number of people who have been doing this for years. Not sure how they get their tickets. You can learn more at the Oscar Fan Experience. But if you really want them, do some healthy Googling for the variety of places that offer them.
Because Dream Street got the tickets only a week before, we had to do the security check in just two days. A detailed bit of paperwork for a background check was followed by an last minute requirement of a photo. Turns out the iPhone can do some impressive editing if needed. I attended the event with my friend David Glickman who remarked that this was more security intensive than when he met the First Lady of the United States.
We were told to arrive at 9am, so we got there at 8:30am. We got a lift to the area so we wouldn’t have to deal with parking. A line was formed and at 9am we were led cross the closed part of Highland Avenue onto Hollywood Boulevard. We check in, received fancy looking credentials. We got a gift bag (see later post) and were led to our bleacher seats.
David and I were sitting in the very last set of bleachers closest to the Dolby Theater in the very last row. With reserved seats (supposedly random) we could arrive any time we wanted. It was about 9:20am when we were settled in. The first celebrities don’t really arrive until 3:30pm. But the Academy needs us in and out of the way before they can deal with the rest of the complications of this show. We grabbed some breakfast (later post has all the food details) and took it all in.
The Red Carpet
We’ve all seen the Red Carpet from the angle of reporters interviewing celebrities. Below is a picture of a mostly empty carpet I found on the internet. We were sitting in the bleachers closest in the picture on the left side (last row). The areas at the front left of the picture and the entire right side is where hordes of photographers and some reporters sit. At the very bottom you can just make out where they did the Oscar 360° shots. Note the red carpet itself in three sections – a wide one closest to our bleachers, a medium section closest to the cameras, and a narrow middle one. More on that later.
When we first got there the Red Carpet was already abuzz.
Reporters and camera crews were everywhere. Checking them out, we realized they were from small media outlets, morning news shows, and, especially, foreign (non-American) crews. They did a lot of standing around, photographing each other, a little camera work, and every single crew we saw that morning did a required shot of our bleachers all jumping up and screaming.
After a while, it wasn’t all that interesting and the bleachers thinned out.
To keep us interested, we then were treated to the arrival of an actual Academy Award. That’ll be covered in a future post.
The miscellaneous press interviewed people in the front (see far right of above shot) and came into the bleachers to talk to people too. My friend David was interviewed by “The Salon Guy”. You can watch that video which includes some Red Carpet behind-the-scenes stuff. David’s brief interview is at 5:51.
Things got a little quiet, which gave me a chance to take a nice panorama shot of the action close-up. Click on the photo below – or any other – to get a full version (which will be needed in many of the shots to see what’s happening).
The Quiet Time
“All ‘Oscar Week’ Credentials must leave the Red Carpet in 15 minutes.”
With that announcement all of those smaller and foreign reporters were history. They vacated the carpet and suddenly it was as close to empty as we’d see it. It also meant I finally had a working internet connection and I made a flurry of posts.
The “empty” carpet was beautiful. I don’t know who the woman in uniform was. The various military people around me also didn’t recognize her uniform. But she was on the carpet almost the entire day – from when we got there up until the celebrities arrived. Anyone who has a clue, please post in the comments.
We ate lunch, soaked in the sun, chatted with new friends. Crews started to arrive and set up all across the carpet. Then the famous people arrived.
No, no those famous people. It was actually “famous people.” Various random folk walked the red carpet wearing signs of who they were supposed to be. I told a heavy-set woman bearing an “Adele” sign that she looked beautiful. I asked who she was wearing and she smiled and said, “Lane Bryant.” The picture is of “Channing Tatum,” “Zoe Saldana,” “Jamie Foxx,” and “Bradley Cooper.”
Set-up was slow and dull. I had time to read a magazine. What else? The new Entertainment Weekly. It had gotten quite hot in the direct sun and we still had 2 hours to go before we would see any A-Listers.
The Entertainment Reporters
Time passed quicker than expected thanks to fun neighbors in the bleachers. The cameramen (and they were 99% men) were situated as if everything was starting any second. Then the security team took their position. They stood 2 per quadrant facing us protecting the celebrities from the bleachers and most of the red carpet walkers. But who would protect the celebrities from Al Roker?
Buzz built as the celeb-reporters showed up. People mostly famous for reporting on much ore famous people. The bleachers shouted there names with gusto. I usually had to ask to find out “Maria!” was Maria Menounos from E! or “Nancy!!!” was Nancy O’Donnell from Entertainment Tonight. I will say, Nancy was absolutely stunning and is also a head taller than the next person. The famous celeb journalists were mostly situated in a sky bridge (left), but even Mario Lopez came by to wave briefly. I did catch a nice shot of Giuliana Rancic coming by (I am a big fan of The Fashion Police following movie awards).
Then it picked up quickly. Over the loudspeaker, we were addressed by Chris Connelly from ABC. His stage was directly across from where we were sitting and he told us he’d be doing interviews of all the celebrities from there. (but they were for us, it seems, and weren’t filmed). He also pointed out Robin Roberts who got a huge reaction from the Fan Experience crowd. The Red Carpet was about to begin…
To Be Continued in Part 2