It happened again. We got invited to attend the Oscar awards ceremony this year. We have friends who work for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Weâ€™d been once before in 2002, so the panic about what to wear wasnâ€™t a problem this time. I now know that 1) no one is going to look at you with Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez in the room and 2) there are lots of ordinary people there who will look just like you, or even make you feel good about your wardrobe choices.
That may sound like I was bored by the whole experience. FAR from it! No matter how cynical you may be about the awards, the stars or the people watching from home, the minute you step on to that red carpet, itâ€™s a truly special experience. As a matter of fact, it starts when you get special treatment from uniformed traffic police on the streets around the Kodak Theater just because you are displaying that magic parking emblem on your dash. We were directed onto barricaded streets lined with cheering fans peering into our car to see if we were â€œanybodyâ€ and waving madly. A bevy of attendants help you alight, take your car, and usher you to the head of the red carpet, where you go through a metal detector, show I.D. and open your teeny purse. No cameras or cell phones are allowed. It doesnâ€™t feel like the airport, though. The airport doesnâ€™t usually have ten foot flower displays.
Then itâ€™s out onto the runway. Last time, we strolled down the red carpet with Paul McCarteny and his wife. This time it was Dolly Parton (she is so tiny! Except forâ€¦ well you know.) I must say, George Clooney sure fills out a tux, as do Russell Crowe and Keanu Reeves. Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger still look a little young to me. But then there are the dresses! Among my personal favorites this year were those that belonged on Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, Zhi Zhang, Reece Witherspoon, and Meryl Streep. Meryl gets my vote as best preserved and most graceful woman â€œof a certain age,â€ and Iâ€™m always looking for those, for obvious reasons. Sharon Stone was my pick for 2002. They give me hope. Or maybe not, since I never looked as good as they did in the first place!
We actually made it on to the ABC pre-show this year. We only realized that when we went home and watched the tape weâ€™d made. We made a screen cap of us walking by behind an interviewer to put on our website. So, free drinks (there is a bar on every floor) and appetizers from Wolfgang while you watch the monitors for late arrivals on the red carpet, and then into a THREE hour and 30 minute production. Of course I am going to have to visit the restroom (see aboveâ€”ladies of a certain age) and you can only go out during commercials. If you miss the end of the break, you have to stay out until the next one. Of course, I picked a short break. It wasnâ€™t bad, though. I drank at the bar, and watched the monitors with several producersâ€™ wives who were in the same boat.
The show itself is entirely professional and bigger than life. Cameras are zooming around on pulleys and booms. The stage hands (and there are about 50 of them) all wear tuxedos to change the huge set pieces, and the audience doesnâ€™t have to watch the commercials! There is music, and lots of stars milling around talking and hugging to entertain you. I personally loved George Clooneyâ€™s acceptance speech where he talked about the fact that art shouldnâ€™t just reflect popular opinion, but should be out in front pointing the way to tolerance and illuminating social problems. Bravo, George! Youâ€™re really the heir to Cary Grant in my mind. Harry is a big fan of Jon Stewartâ€™s low key humor, (that and Salma Hayekâ€™s dress) so he found the show especially satisfying.
It was a good night, no matter which movie you wanted to win. We had our own after-party at an Italian restaurant thatâ€™s a Hollywood legend and called it a (late) night. It was a celebration of the local industry which was watched by the world. Way more exciting than the insurance industry meetings I go to on occasion!
Susan Squires http://www.susansquires.com/ THE COMPANION, May, 2005–St. Martin’s Press THE HUNGER, October, 2005–St. Martin’s Press THE BURNING, April, 2006–St. Martin’s Press
Well, you’d know I would enjoy this story… And you didn’t try to kidnap George. The woman of America are dissappointed in you…but you do know if I were there, I would have done in all in the name of OCC. Sure.
on March 27, 2006
Wow Susan that’s awesome! My husband is in the screenwriting program at UCLA and I have a feeling that one day he’ll be going. Then again, I might be ever so slightly prejudiced in his favor! Thanks for sharing!
on March 22, 2006
I’m so glad you wrote about this. I was dying to know how your night was! It looks like you had a lot of fun and I loved the pictures. Thanks for sharing this with us.
on March 22, 2006
Wow, Susan! How fun for you two. It sounds like you had an amazing experience. If I were to go, I’d be the one tripping and falling on the red carpet in front of the world–and probably onto someone famous who is being interviewed on live TV. Yep. Just call me Grace.