Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Notes From the Oscars

How I ended up at the Show…
My friend Shelby from here in Nashville was working on the production team and had the chance to invite friends to be seat fillers for the show. So, I filled out the application and was chosen to be one.

I had to be in town to pick my ticket to the show up on Friday afternoon. I went in and showed my official letter of invitation and ID, and got my ticket (worth $350) and parking passes (for car or limo), official ABC Oscar poster and Oscar ball cap. Once I looked at that ticket and held in my hand, I realized… "I'm going to the Oscars!"

Shelby was working pretty much the whole time I was there, so I wandered around the Hollywood & Highland area by myself (no biggie). The corner of H&H is where the red carpet begins and works its way down to the Kodak Theatre. There's an open air, multi-level mall there and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, too. They close Hollywood Avenue down and the Red Carpet, the bleachers, tents, production and everything take over that part of the street by the Kodak. I snapped some pictures of what it all looks like and I'll get them posted soon.

The number of people just hanging out and taking pictures on Friday and Saturday was pretty interesting. On Saturday evening, they were running rehearsals with stand-ins for the arrivals of actors like Daniel Craig and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (the cameras had to rehearse, too).

Between Saturday and Sunday, they closed off the entire mall, streets, parking garages, etc. for security. It was a bit creepy to see secret service around so much with former VP Al Gore around.

On Sunday afternoon, I watched from the hotel room window as people filed down Highland Avenue with camp chairs and such to pitch a spot on the sidewalk to watch arrivals. They completely close off the roads around the area for security and traffic flow. Limos had to drive up the street to the Hollywood Bowl lot to wait for the show and/or Governor's Ball to finish before they came back to pick up their people. That's when I realized that the Oscars truly are Hollywood's biggest night.

As a ticketed seat filler, I arrived like everyone else attending the show…down the red carpet. After going through metal detectors, I came out to the red carpet with bleachers of fans on the right and all the media and cameras on the left. Only the "right" people go down the left-hand side of the rope. Academy folks told us to stroll down the red carpet to the theatre entrance. So, I did. I saw Ryan Seacrest and the Fox News media team with Bill McCuddy (I'm a Fox News junkie). As I rounded the corner to enter the theatre, there was Mary Hart, heading up to her booth.

I checked in with the Academy person inside the theatre at the end of the red carpet and waited on Cari and Nicole (two of Shelby's other friends who were seat fillers). Once everyone arrived, the Academy folks had us follow some dancers (the ones who did the special dances during the show) back out to the red carpet. We were carpet fillers at that point I guess, making the red carpet look more full of folks behind the dancers for the cameras. That's when we got a closer look at the media line and Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray frontman, now E! correspondent). We three girls were behind the two guys from the firm that counts ballots as they entered with the briefcases (you might see us on TV then).

As the seat fillers went back into the Kodak, they led us up to the cocktail party that starts as the red carpet opens. They had the arrivals showing on the monitors but we were also watching the other levels for people to come in. We enjoyed sushi, finger sandwiches, quiches and such catered by Wolfgang Puck.

Our first non-media celebrity was the B-level artist Ed Begley, Jr. How random, right? We rubbed elbows with Portia de Rossi (and Ellen's mom), Cameron Diaz, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen, Elizabeth Shue, Kirsten Dunst and Larry David (Seinfeld writer, Curb Your Enthusiasm) at the Cocktail Party.

From a distance, from one level of the theatre lobby to another, we saw Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Jennifer Hudson, Maggie Gyllenhall, Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett.

My official ticketed seat filler seat was on the main level, behind the main orchestra seats, center section, row F, seat 14. It was behind the soundboards and cameras – slightly obstructed view, which was the point of me getting the ticket, but a good view nevertheless. The Kodak Theatre itself is smaller than it appears on TV.

I thought the show was great - more interesting in person even. I thought Ellen was a great host. The Dreamgirls segment was great. Jerry Seinfeld's bit was good. My favorite part (aside from Ellen's hosting) was the Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly song…great! During the commercial breaks, they had a DJ playing music. It was interesting to see how everything and everyone moved around during the break, and how quickly things settle down right before the show comes back on. It was fun to see things happen on the TV monitors while seeing it all from the backside at the same time. Very interesting.

You know how you feel bad for the winner that has his or her speech cut off by the music? It's even more uncomfortable when you're sitting in the theatre with them.

I don't think Larry David sat in his seat much at all…he seemed to be the social butterfly of the night [smile].

To end the night how could I forget Clive Owen, who was in front of me on the escalator going up to the hotel. Beautiful.All in all, a fun experience...can't wait to do it next year. :)

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