My Oscar Week in LA Begins
Oscar week doesn’t start for me until we land in LA and get to the credential office. There’s a new feel to those badges this year with the places where I am permitted to go listed on the front. “Arrivals” is listed in RED as in “red carpet”…as in just where you want to be in the hours before the show. When I covered my first Oscar show back in 1982 for CNN, I can remember sending an intern down to the red carpet on Sunday morning a few hours before the show to stake out a good camera position. Now, those places are assigned by The Motion Picture Academy three months before the event, and that simple red word below one’s photo on the badge is one of the most coveted passes in all of show business. It’s rights to just a tiny spot to rest among a lot of moving people so comfortable shoes are a must and camera people can be seen wearing black sneakers with their (mandatory) tuxedos.
I am going to answer the 2 questions I get asked most often. No, I’ve never been inside the theater to actually see the show. Tickets are too scarce and I’m writing too fast during the event so I can have a complete wrap-up for Eyewitness News viewers minutes after the show is finished. And, No, my wife, Eileen, NEVER comes with me. I'm way to intense for her to stomach when I'm in Oscar-mode!
Years ago the event had a more intimate feel than today, but it is even more exciting today. Everything about the gold Oscar statues, intense security and sweeping entrance to the theater screams “big deal” to me. The day it doesn’t – is the day I quit! To be sure the Academy Awards had long since achieved a global reach of great importance by the time I got to Oscar’s red carpet the year Dustin Hoffman was recognized for playing “Tootsie” in drag (he told me on live TV, “she made me a better MAN!). However, The Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in downtown LA was much smaller and more elegant. There were far fewer news outlets in those days, and those of us on the showbiz beat got more face time with the stars. The nicer ones even had time to get to know us a bit.
I missed the era of my grandfather Thornton Delehanty, the ace Hollywood correspondent for the old “New York Herald Tribune.” He went sailing with Humphrey Bogart, and the best I could do was dinner with Clint Eastwood (at 1 AM), but there were echoes of the old Hollywood when I started, and I am encouraged by the fact Bruce Cohen, the producer of this year’s telecast, tells me he’s going “back to the future” for the show this year and honoring Hollywood’s past in the course of a show with young hosts that generally looks forward.