The Oscars: The Day Before the Ceremony

25 02 2009
Photos: Matthias Wurz

Kodak Theatre, Hollywood

For those that would want to absorb the atmosphere immediately before the spectacular Oscars Award Ceremony, a visit to the Kodak Theatre is a must. Together with the Chinese Theatre, it is located at the Hollywood & Highland Center at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.

Throughout the year, guided tours are offered through this spectacular venue, but, of course, not today, a day before all film stars, film directors and celebrities take the stage to collect the prestigious awards.

The first thing one notice when approaching the area is the traffic diversion, as the Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding blocks are closed for the famous red carpet, protected by a long tent-like corridor. This is where the crowds outside try to catch a glimpse of the Angelina Jolie’s, Brad Pitt’s and many other celebrities, admiring their outfit when exiting the limousines. ABC Television also conducts some of its interviews here.

The foot passenger, however, are diverted through the theater and shopping complex corridors, which lead to the circular foyer of the entrance to the Kodak Theatre. If one follows the diversion around on the First Level, one passes the famous steps to the left, before disappearing in the grey narrow corridors, which exits close to the entrance of the Chinese Theatre.

One can get a glimpse at the entrance, decorated with a huge golden-colored Oscar figure, but as the footpath is narrow here, security staff ensures that those who take their pictures do not block the moving crowds.

However, I was too curious to see the upper level, and so, instead of exiting the building, I took one of the escalators nearby one level up to soak the atmosphere. The hectic rushing-about by photographers, Television teams or other supporting staff does not hinder cineastes as well as tourists posing for their own ‘I-wish-I were-famous’ snapshots.

Those unimpressed by the ever-present security cheekily approach the guards, hoping to let them through for a family snap-shop – particularly on the famous stairs. However, the big Afro-American security guard positioned there, without amusement, shakes his head unmistakably, and says in his deep, firm voice, “I am sorry M’am, access with valid identification only, no exception.”

Indeed, the left side of the Award Walk shops is accessible, though the shops are closed. The cabling of the lightning, affixed on the little bridges across, above the Award Walk, remind me that this evidently is one part of the building not shown. The lightning affixed here, however, is nevertheless the key to the spectacular atmosphere on the lower level, decorated with large Oscar statuses, champagne tables and lavish floral decorations.

At the end, just above the large entrance in a small balcony, right across the large Academy Awards poster has ABC Television one of its camera locations. And as I stop to have a look around, the camera team is setting up, testing equipment, as well as the TV presenter rehearsing for the big event. Also they need to know their cues, just as their famous movie counterparts passing through here the next evening.

As I look down onto the Award Walk, the red carpet is still covered with plastic while I notice a young woman in a long, red evening dress, accompanied by a photographer. The two stop at the exquisite floral decorations for picture shooting. Evidently, all kinds of professionals make use of their accreditation to make their promo-pictures with the decorative Oscars staging. While making my final way down to exit the Hollywood & Highland Center, I keep thinking what it were like to be present at this infamous, nevertheless spectacular Award ceremony…

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