Pack up the lawn chairs Decamped: Oscar fans disagree with police over perfect place to plant their fannies.

March 24, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES -- For Oscar's bleacher bums, those die-hard fans who sit in the stands and loudly pine over the Hollywood royalty as they arrive, the fight for the best seats is as big a part of the ritual as the awards themselves.

Which is why so many were ticked off Saturday night when they were told there would be no overnight camping on the streets outside the Shrine Auditorium.

"It's retarded," said Mary Ann Kellogg, sitting poolside at the nearby Vagabond Inn.

Jill Cornelli, her friend and fellow stargazer, agreed. She'd come all the way from St. Louis for the annual Oscar-weekend ritual and didn't like a bunch of police and security-types telling her what to do.

"We're not causing any problems," Cornelli was saying, less than an hour after police ordered her and about 20 members of the newly formed Oscar Chatter Club off the street. "We're not really camping, we're just standing there. We're not loitering. I mean, we're the fans."

Instead of allowing fans to camp out overnight, color-coded tags were distributed and people were told to come back Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. Those with pink tags would be allowed in first, followed by those with green tags.

"They just totally screwed us," insists Marlene Rocha, who didn't come all the way down from San Francisco to spend Saturday night in a hotel.

Daddy's girl

So, a reporter asked supporting-actress Oscar winner Kim Basinger last night, were you sure you were going to win?

"Me, sure?" the still-stunned actress replied. "I tried not to go there."

Basinger, whose career has included guest spots on "Charlie's Angels" and being sued for films she didn't appear in, upset sentimental favorite Gloria Stuart to take home the Oscar.

Basinger was still pinching herself when she was led backstage to answer reporters' questions.

"I don't believe I'm standing here in front of you guys," Basinger said, joking that maybe the Oscar would fall on her tomorrow and she'd wake up from the dream.

Onstage, the native of Athens, Ga., dedicated the award to her father. Backstage, she explained why. It was her dad, she said, who cultivated in her an appreciation for the film history of which she's now a part.

"My dad would quiz me, he'd ask me who that was, and I'd say Walter Huston, and he'd say, 'No, that was John Huston.' By the time I actually left home at 17, I had a pretty good background because of him."

Winning comments

A few awards that would have been, if they presented Oscars for the arrivals line:

Biggest roar from the assembled masses: Madonna, whose fans even managed to out-scream all the "Titanic" partisans.

Best diplomat: Linda Hamilton, asked what it was like to live with husband James Cameron during the filming of "Titanic," replied, "Whatever we went through, it's more than being made up for this weekend."

Best panderer: Steve Guttenberg, who assured the bleacher crowd, "This is the most handsome-looking Academy Awards group I've ever seen."

Best panderer, runner-up: Red Buttons, who told the crowd, "I've changed my name to Leonardo DiButtons."

Biggest understatement: One bleacher fan, who replied to her friend's identification of one of the arriving stars: "If it was Ray Bolger, everybody would be screaming for him." (Since Bolger's dead, it's likely the crowd would simply have been screaming.)

Best sentimental moment: the arrival of Luise Rainer, who won consecutive Best Actress oscars for 1936 and 1937.

"I'm hardly used to that," Rainer said of the enthusiastic applause that greeted her. "I'm an old dame now."

Least welcome news: Julie Christie, asked when she would be making her next film: "Probably not for a long time; that's the way I like it."

Best reason to avoid ad-libbing: veteran gossip columnist Army Archerd, interviewing director Atom Egoyan: "You're nominated for 'The Great Heartbreak?" (Actually, he's nominated for 'The Sweet Hereafter."

Best reason to be in the bleachers this year: The parade of former Academy Award winners, on hand to celebrate Oscar's 70th anniversary.

The red carpet walk was a film-lover's dream, featuring everyone from Shirley Temple Black to Celeste Holm to Harold Russell ("The Best Years of Our Lives") to Jeremy Irons. Oscar has rarely glittered so royally.

Full steam a-head

The Oscar broadcast was still four hours away yesterday afternoon, but Bob Migliorisi had already nailed the award for Best Headgear.

An art student at Cal State Dominguez, Migliorisi's task was to find a way not only to profess his love of "Titanic," but also advertise the "Titanic: Ship of Dreams" T-shirts he was hawking.

So he wore the Titanic on his head.

"I made it myself," a proud Migliorisi said of his cardboard and wood attention-getter.

The spirit of fun

A few noteworthy quotes from Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards, where filmmakers fiercely determined to have nothing to do with the mainstream got to mix with those dying to join it:

Best Debut Performance winner Aaron Eckhart ("In the Company of Men"), asked if this made up for not being nominated for an Oscar: "Who cares?"

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