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Counting Down to the Oscars: Thursday March 4

The old song goes like this “it never rains in Southern California.” NOT TRUE, and it’s such a beautiful day that it’s hard to believe rain is forecast for the Big Show on Sunday. We watched as the long red carpet went down to cover the concrete on Hollywood Blvd. and what a pretty red expanse it was: lined with gold even! But, workers immediately covered it with clear plastic tarps and placed clear vinyl overhead the carpet and the grandstands. I’m hoping for a situation like I have seen in previous years where the rain passes by early Sunday and clear skies return and workers race to remove the rain gear and the red carpet parade can proceed under clear skies. Oscar’s red carpet just isn’t as glamorous under cover.

Oscar week just isn’t Oscar week for me until my first glimpse of the Oscar set inside the Kodak Theater. This may seem obvious, but actually it’s REALLY tough to get access to rehearsals for the show. Andy, Mike and I went in to interview the President of the Motion Picture Academy, Tom Sherak, who’s originally from Sheepshead Bay. The previous head, Sid Ganis, was also from Brooklyn. Both told me that growing up in the Borough taught them street smarts that prove very helpful navigating a tough business like showbiz. Tom remains friends with his old pals from the neighborhood and told me they keep him as honest today as they did when they were growing up together. If this down-to- earth guy was ever tempted to act important…well, the guys are there to set him straight! What’s fun is to be here in Hollywood amid all the glamour and hear Tom’s accent which so reminds me of home…

Next, we met the producers of Sunday’s telecast, Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic. Bill used to be Tom’s boss at 20th Century Fox. Now Tom is Bill’s boss. Wouldn’t you like to switch places like that just once? These three guys are orchestrating big changes at the Oscar show which will have double the number of hosts and twice the number of Best Picture nominees.  Bill told me, enough with “the same old, same old.” I’ve heard that from other producers before so we’ll see on Sunday.

But the honorary awards have already been given out so that should streamline the show and there will not be individual performances of the nominated songs. Without a Springsteen tune this year and no rockers getting a nod, the ballads up for awards would have caused the show to drag.

I think as a viewer you would be surprised to learn how important you are to the Oscar producers and how much they want to keep your interest. So many of the decisions made in the Kodak Theater this week are made with you in mind: hoping you won’t tune out or go to sleep on Sunday night. Here, there are a couple hundred people working really hard. There are cardboard, poster size placards with the names & faces of famous people resting in chairs down front so the many cameramen will know where to focus on the big night. No famous people were on stage when we were there…just a couple of anonymous stand-ins.

Being there inside for even a few minutes is a real thrill, but you’ll have to take my word for it because Mike Thorne was under strict instructions not to shoot the stage. Had he done so, we would have risked losing our credentials. The Academy does NOT fool around. You do it their way, OR ELSE!!

I tell my wife Eileen frequently, the day I don’t get excited stepping inside the theater each year is the day I quit. For a few brief moments one stands in the middle of the showbiz universe and for a guy like me who has covered Hollywood for almost 30 years, that is a true thrill.

Sandy Kenyon




To:Rebecca Campbell, President and General Manager, WABC-TV. I think the Parant company Disney is making Cablevision look bad when we see the profits of Corpoate 7. Sorry but you guys at 7 are free television and the increase in monies you are asking for in the cablevion package is redicilous. I did watch channel 7 but now I will not even watch your station if you both settle.Channel 7 are fools to take regular telivion off he air. You are only hurting us your verwers!I will not watch channel even if both parties settle. We are tired of getting th short end of the stick and to pull this now when time are hard buut getting better. Shame on Channel 7!

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