The red carpet is a quarter of a mile long. It has a roof. Either side is lined by terraced seats, which tomorrow will be filled with screaming fans and lit by mega-watt lights. Every few yards, there’s a six-foot tall replica Oscar statue, made of fibreglass. Understated and elegant, it is not.
Hollywood’s big night out takes place at the Kodak Theatre, just north of Sunset Boulevard, a gaudy artery that dissects central Los Angeles from east to west. This week, the entire venue, together with an enormous hotel and shopping complex that surrounds it, was turned into a gaudy version of Fort Knox.
Two blocks of the city centre were closed to traffic, snarling up what is already one of the world’s most congested urban areas. The surrounding area has been transformed into a “secure zone” that is already being patrolled by a thousand gun-toting security personnel. Getting in will require more than a rented dinner jacket and a look of entitlement. Each of the 3,500 guests invited to the Oscar ceremony is required to submit hologram-covered security passes and undergo airport-style screening.
Celebrities get their own dedicated metal detector and handbag-scanner. Civilians are required to queue up for checkpoints, manned by guards in a uniform of crew-cuts and elaborate moustaches. Don’t argue with them, organisers warn, or you’ll be immediately thrown out.
Other ways you can be forcibly ejected from the 81st Academy Awards are listed on roughly 50 sheets of A4 paper handed to the hundred or so journalists lucky enough to secure accreditation to cover proceedings. “We hope you consider your access to the event a privilege,” it begins, somewhat ominously.
The Academy’s already fragile sense of humour about the issue of security took a knock this week with the release of a documentary called Crasher, in which a tubby, bearded man called Scott Weiss filmed himself successfully gatecrashing last year’s event. It showed him slipping past security with a fake ID and gleefully posing at an after-party with Oscar winners Javier Bardem and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Yesterday, the Academy issued a statement sternly condemning the film, claiming that it could even inspire “serious criminal acts”.Reuse content