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Annual Academy Awards Post

February 22, 2015

This is a re-post I do most years, but it’s a fun story and thought I’d put it up again.

Sunday morning, Feb 29th, 2004. I was having a pretty lousy weekend, then Sunday morning came. I had done some work for a friend as a favor, and she called to return the gesture. Did I want to go to the Academy Awards tonight? Short version: a friend of mine who worked the event had spare tickets from people who weren’t going to make it. Who does a no-show for the Oscars? At least two people, I guess, because I got two tickets. This was pre-Kat, and may I say that you’re incredibly popular when you call to invite girls to the Academy Awards. My date (Hi, Anna!) and I met a friend who gave us our tickets a few blocks away from the theatre.

They asked us to come early so we wouldn’t get in anyone’s way, so we’re there at 2pm for the show to start at 5. I’m expecting that we’ll drive around to the back, and get shuffled in through an alley or something, and all we were told was to drive around the barricades through the streets – they basically shut down a two block radius around the Kodak Theatre. Police stopped me every so often to check the car and make sure we’re not a bomb.

And finally, we get to one more check point where a guy opens the door and asks me to get out. I’m so wide-eyed stupid that I ask him what’s happening, and he tells me he’s the valet and hands me a ticket for the car. I ask him where I’m supposed to go and he points to the long red carpet across the way. The one with all the press on either side of it leading into the theatre.  I look at him and he looks at me, and I decided not to ask again.

One of my students was in the stands that they set up for onlookers, and yelled out my name.  I didn’t hear it, but she asked me the next morning in class if I was there, so I got to tell my story in front of the students, which was nice. :)

So we walk the red carpet. We were so out of our element, we didn’t stop, we didn’t do anything, we just walked across the end of the carpet and giggled stupidly. I think Anna posed for a couple of pictures. I was still expecting someone to tell me “You shouldn’t be here.” Somewhere, the next morning, a copy editor was looking through his pictures, sees one of me, and goes “who wasted film on this loser?”

I had to look better than this, right? At the end of the red carpet, I called my mom. I’ve had a few fun “guess where I am?” phone calls in my life, but that one was probably the best. We get inside, now about 2 1/2 hours early for the show. It’s us and what appears to be everyone’s 50-year old hookers that are owed favors, so they get invited to the Oscars and told to show up early. I wish I were creative enough to make that up, but that’s who everyone looked like. I talked the bartenders into making me a couple of rum and Cokes (Bartender: “we’re only supposed to make the drinks on the menu” Me:”You have rum, you have Coke, I’m never going to be here again. Please?” and drop a $5 bill in the tip jar. It only occurred to me later that that was probably the cheapest tip he got all night.), and we hung out.  For two hours. With the 50-year old hookers. We noted that we were probably dressed in the two least expensive outfits in the place, but that we made them look good. About 30 minutes before the start, people showed up. I’m terrible at recognizing anyone, but Anna told me that I almost tripped over a Weinstein. Probably Harvey. I watched Jeff Goldblum run into someone. Many, many other people shuffled all around us, and we decided to get to our seats. In the Kodak Theatre, there are four levels. The lowest level is what you see on TV, with all the cool people. The second level is the editors, the sound guys, documentarians – you can still get to the stage from here, just not in a big hurry. The other levels are way up there with no stage access.  We were in the second level (!). Again, there must have been some mistake.

And we sat there for four hours. I think we were both afraid to get up. What would happen if we left the seats? Don’t want to know! It’s so stupid in retrospect, but we were really afraid to get up. The telecast begins – Billy Crystal does a big number and it goes to commercial. And that’s when the show starts, because the ENTIRE front level gets up and runs around. This is not an awards show. This is a trade show, and everyone’s there to do business. During one commercial, Crystal yelled at everyone to leave a business card and sit the Hell down. I thought that was pretty funny.

The show itself was pretty uneventful – Lord of the Rings III took all the awards (still haven’t seen it…).

My favorite, strange thing about the evening was that they had video monitors up everywhere, and it was so hard not to watch them. About a dozen times I caught myself watching TV, then realizing that if I just turned my head a little, Robin Williams was actually on the stage in front of me. That’s kinda better.

Then it was over, we climbed back in the PT Cruiser (we didn’t have tickets to the Governor’s Ball, unfortunately), and shot straight to a TGI-Friday’s because we were STARVED not having eaten anything but hors d’oeuvres many, many hours ago.

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