New residence, same old Oscar worries

Venue: But despite it all, many are just happy Oscar has a home.

The Hollywood Scene

March 25, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood has been abuzz all week, as everybody from the cop on the beat and the guy selling souvenir T-shirts to the mayor and the Oscar nominees themselves, wondered if the academy could pull off the big move.

As the show began, things were looking fine. The crowds behaved themselves, the new Kodak Theatre and surroundings looked great on TV, the security precautions seemed to be doing their job (although a trio of airplanes pulling advertising banners in the skies above Hollywood raised a few eyebrows; hadn't flyovers been prohibited? The planes soon disappeared), and Jennifer Connelly walked off with the evening's first award, best supporting ac tress for A Beautiful Mind.

True, the Oscars were in a new home, but some things never change. The fans still spent hours in the bleachers, yearning to scream at their favorite stars; the stars themselves, especially the female ones, showed up in gowns that cost more than the budget of some Third World countries; and members of the press still jockeyed for position, on the off-chance one of the stars might deign to speak with them for a moment.

But for most people, the topic of conversation was the new digs. Ernest Borgnine, who won a best actor Oscar for 1955's Marty, spoke for all when he said, "I'm glad now that Oscar's finally got a home."

For the record, the first star to show up on the new place's red car pet was Gloria Stuart, the grand old lady of Hollywood (she'll be 92 her next birthday). Reminiscing about days of Oscar past, she in voked the names of legendary stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. She was also probably the only one there last night who knew them personally.

Here's a little of what some of the other stars had to say last night, as they negotiated their way into Kodak Theatre.

"Thank you for the British weather you've given us." - Sir Ian McKellen, commenting on the overcast skies.

"Oh, I mean wicked in a mischievous sort of way." - Actress Naomi Watts, reacting to Hollywood columnist Army Archerd's shock when she referred to her Mulholland Drive director David Lynch as "wicked."

"'It's a unique experience." - Mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., the real-life subject of A Beautiful Mind. Nash certainly under stated the case.

Curiously enough, not all the arriving stars seemed that intent on getting noticed. Jodie Foster, in a glittering silver number, stopped to wave only briefly, and never even got to talk to Archerd. Paul McCartney, nominated for best song for Vanilla Sky, smiled but never broke stride. And Donald Sutherland practically sprinted in side, perhaps afraid of showing up late for his announcing duties.

Nervous academy officials doubtless breathed a sigh of relief when the show finally started last night; at least as far as the arrivals line was concerned, the shakedown cruise proved a success.

All for the Big Apple

Oscar may have gotten its biggest surprise of the evening over with early last night, as it lured Woody Allen away from his beloved New York just long enough to introduce a film tribute to the Big Apple.

"I wanted to do stuff for New York, and the opportunity was presented to me, sort of on a silver platter." Allen said of the motion picture academy's request that he introduce Nora Ephron's film, a nod to the emotional turmoil the city endures since Sept. 11. "I didn't have to present anything, I didn't have to accept anything, it was fairly easy for me to do."

Allen, a frequent Oscar nominee and best director winner for 1977's Annie Hall, had never attended the Academy Awards be fore. On the night Annie Hall won its Oscar, he memorably stayed in New York, to play his regular Monday night saxophone gig.

Honoring him was never enough to lure Allen to Hollywood, apparently. But honoring his hometown M-` now there was an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I thought it was a very nice gesture of support, to honor films that have been made in New York City over the years." he said backstage after delivering an introduction that was vintage Allen stand-up. "I felt honored to do it."

Having just arrived in L.A. yesterday morning, he hadn't yet had the chance to take in much of the town. But since he"d be staying on the West Coast until Wednesday ('I do have some friends here." he deadpanned), he was open to suggestions.

The Spirit Awards

When it came to films that fall outside the mainstream, 2001 proved to be a good year for doing things backward.

Memento, one of the most unconventional (and most critically favored) movies of 2001, was named best feature at Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards, held to honor films and performances that push the cinematic envelope.

The $4.5 million film proved an audience favorite as well, playing an impressive 20-plus straight weeks at the Charles. That success was duplicated throughout the country, as filmgoers sought out the arthouse theaters where it was playing, anxious to see for themselves what all the fuss was about.

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