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For months those of us in the media who report on the Hollywood glitz and glamour have been preparing for the Oscars. And frankly by now we’re exhausted.
Without a doubt, the Academy Awards ceremony is the single biggest event in the entertainment industry.
It’s the grand prize in an award season that includes the Golden Globe Awards, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, The Directors Guild Awards, The TV Guide Awards, and The People’s Choice Awards. Just to name a few.
To the fans hoping to get an up close and personal look at the stars attending this year’s Academy Awards, a bit of advice, forget it. Trying to get anywhere near the Oscars on Sunday will be near impossible. It might be easier to get on a plane with box cutters.
Gone are the days when people were allowed to camp out days before the ceremony to secure prime spaces on the bleachers along the red carpet.
This year the bleachers will be filled by the precious few who won lottery tickets to last year’s red carpet.
At that time the war in Iraq was just under way, and the Academy decided it was too much of a security risk to have a frenzied crowd that close to the stars. So the bleachers were closed and the fans were given rain checks to use this year.
Winning the prize to cover the Oscars
It takes months of hard work, sweat, and more than a few tears to get the opportunity to be on the red carpet. And I’m not talking about Charlize Theron, nominated for Best Actress or Sean Penn for his work in “Mystic River.” I’m talking about the members of the media vying for a spot to cover the stars.
It’s a crazy, intense, and sometimes zany annual process that begins in early November. That’s when the folks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences send letters out in the mail notifying reporters, television news producers, photographers, and other media from around the world that the Oscars are coming.
The contents of the letter reveal that it’s time to fill out the dreaded “credential request” forms. Not to be confused with the “credential” form. Each one is different and comes with its own set of headaches.
The “credential request” form provides the opportunity to beg the Academy for as many credentials as you can. NBC does it with full knowledge that we never get half as many as you ask for. And there is a chance you may not get any at all. So we fill out the form, say a little prayer, and wait.
For those not in the know, the credential is a laminated identification card that allows you within the secured area around the Kodak Theater where the Oscars will be handed out on Sunday February 29th.
In early February the “credential request reply” letter arrives with the results. The lucky ones get approved to cover The 76th Academy Awards Presentation. But if you think the process ends there you’re wrong.
Since 9-11, security at the all the award shows, particularly the Oscars, is tight. The credential forms require the applicant to provide a driver’s license and a social security or passport number. This is so the Academy people can run criminal background checks on everyone that comes near the Kodak Theater.
With a credential in hand, members of the press are ready to take their places on the most famous red carpet in the world.
Once we get there it’s the same drill. The Academy Award Presentation starts at 5 p.m. local time in Los Angeles. The credentialed individuals are required to dress in formal wear, tuxedos for the men and gowns for the ladies.
It’s hot, hectic and the hours of standing around are long. Everyone is encouraged to be in place by at least 2 p.m. but the stars don’t start to trickle in until around 3:30pm.
The biggest names run through at around 4:45 p.m. pretending to wish they had time to stop and talk. And who can blame them. How many times can they answer the questions, “What designer are you wearing?” or “Are you nervous?”
This year’s challenge will be pronouncing the name of the best supporting actress nominee Shohreh Aghdoshloo for her role in “The House of Sand and Fog.” I can just hear it now, “Miss Aghdoshloo, what designer are you wearing?”