Oscar Not Seeing Red (Carpet)
Tue Mar 18, 8:35 PM ET
By Marcus Errico
Looks like Oscar is rolling up the red carpet.
With "the clouds of war gathering around us," organizers for the 75th Academy Awards announced Tuesday that this year's ceremony is still set to go on--minus the traditional arrivals line.
Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Frank Pierson and Oscarcast producer Gil Cates called a late-afternoon press conference to field increasing questions about how the annual glitz fest--"one of the biggest parties in Hollywood," per Pierson-- would deal with the coming war with Iraq.
"Keeping in mind the world situation, the Academy has elected to prepare a more sober preshow and a scaled-back arrivals sequence. The traditional splashy red carpet arrivals line will be truncated," said a sunken-eyed Cates.
The news came as many of Tinseltown's shiniest planned to boycott the red carpet altogether and instead slip in through a side entrance.
"The Academy is mindful that many of its celebrity guests would feel uncomfortable arriving at this year's Awards at the beginning of a major war to face a business-as-usual phalanx of interviewers and photographers," said Cates.
"The Academy's decision is meant to address the concerns of these celebrities, and to reflect the circumstances under which we are now producing this show. Therefore, arriving guests will not stop for interviews or photographs."
Instead, Cates says there will likely be a pool feed of celebrity arrivals, although details are still being ironed out.
Of course, even if the Academy-sanctioned camera jockeys catch Renée, Nicole, Halle and Julia darting through the metal detectors into the Kodak Theater, chances are they won't be as glittery as usual. While it's unlikely celebs will adopt the "dressy business attire" recommended in the wake of 9-11 for the twice-postponed Emmys, designers like Giorgio Armani tell the New York Times that they've been handling panicked calls from actresses requesting dark suits and even tuxedos as "backup outfits."
Cates added that host Steve Martin will tone down his wild-and-crazy antics, as will the Bruce Vilanch-fronted quip-writing crew. He also made a point of saying that presenters (including the activist-minded Susan Sarandon) had a tacit agreement not to deviate from their script and make political remarks.
However, he did say that winners can discuss anything they want during their acceptance speeches as long as they keep it under the allotted 45 seconds.
Some questions remain unresolved. The Academy, hoping to mark its diamond anniversary with a self-congratulatory gala, will alter the already-scripted segments. The show reportedly had been slated to open with a montage of the 74 previous Best Picture winners.
"We have always been aware that we were preparing the show while the clouds of war were gathering around us," said Pierson. "To do something self-serving and frivolous while our troops were engaged in bloody combat would be extremely inappropriate."
Then there are the 500 or so fans who won the lottery for sidewalk bleacher seats. The would-be bleacher creatures will be "relocated," says Cates, but the Academy still need to "find something for them to do."
Barring major breaking news that would preempt the ceremony, ABC's live coverage is still scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT., preceded by a 30-minute arrival show at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. ET. (E!'s live pre-Oscar countdown is now slated to begin at noon ET/9 a.m. PT.) Otherwise, Cates says, war updates will be dealt with via a ticker or a news cutaway as warranted.
Never canceled, the Academy Awards have been delayed three times before: in 1981, after the attempted assassination of President Reagan; after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; and in 1938, after Los Angeles was flooded. Cates and Pierson both noted that the Oscars were held during World War II, with Pierson saying the ceremony has "always been a reflection of what's going on in the world."
Any postponement--or, gasp, cancellation--would take a serious dent out of Academy and ABC coffers. The Oscars are generally the most watched television event after the Super Bowl and account for $78 million in advertising revenue for the Alphabet net.
And for those hoping the sobered up show might mean a shorter show, think again. Cates says he still expects the Oscarcast to clock in at three and a half hours.