Monday, 25 February 2008

Hollywood abuzz with Oscar preparations

LOS ANGELES — Lining up for bleacher bling. Searching for Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Finding Regis Philbin. And who was that mysterious man in the tux? The city was abuzz with all things Oscar as celebrities and their fans flocked from around the world for Sunday's Academy Awards ...


Associated Press

BLEACHER BLING: At the Academy Awards, even the bleacher bums get a swag bag.

No, their bags aren't crammed with expensive designer jewelry or gift certificates for lavish vacations.

But each person lucky enough to score lottery tickets to the bleachers lining the red carpet at Sunday's Oscar show received a bag containing a pair of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate granola bar, items likely to send them home sugar-shocked as well as star-struck.

The dark gray bags, emblazoned with the words "I Am An Academy Awards Bleachers Fan," also held a container of L'Oreal moisturizing lotion, a tube of Aveeno lip balm and a disposable camera.


AND THE EARLY ARRIVAL AWARD GOES TO: A little more than four hours before curtain time, those gathered in the bleachers along the Oscar show's red carpet finally had a few things to cheer about.

First, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, putting an end to the day's driving rain. Then Regis Philbin emerged from a long, black limousine and waved to the crowd.

Cheers and shouts of "R-E-E-E-G!" and "I Love Regis" quickly swept the packed bleachers as word spread of the first bona fide star sighting.

Philbin jumped into a golf cart that whisked him away to a podium area. As he vanished, the bleacher crowd quickly settled back into its pre-show routine of reading magazines, chatting on cell phones and photographing one another.

More than an hour later, cheers went up again when actor Louis Gossett Jr. and model-designer Kimora Lee Simmons were spotted on the red carpet. Following them a few minutes later were Seal and Heidi Klume.

Among those waiting for the celebrities to arrive was Debbie Simons, who had hosted an Oscar viewing party at her Phoenix home for 15 years until she scored bleacher tickets this year.

"The rest of the girls are awfully jealous back home," she said.


WHO WAS THAT TUXEDOED MAN?: One of Hollywood's darkest, deepest secrets is that not every smiling face you see on TV when the camera pans the Oscar audience belongs to a famous actor, a behind-the-scenes big shot or even someone who knows one.

No, some of those people sitting there have nothing to do with the Oscars except sitting there. They are professional seat fillers, the people who show up dressed to kill and ready to sit the moment a star gets up to accept an award or go to the bathroom.

Their mission: Ensure that people watching the Oscar show at home never see an empty seat during the broadcast.

They arrived by the score outside the Kodak Theatre complex late Sunday morning, all of them under orders not to reveal their true identities or even talk to anyone.

They included a woman who donned a pair of Ugg boots and wore a puffy down jacket over her aqua-blue evening dress as she picked her away around puddles in the parking lot left by the heavy rain. Another wore flip-flops but carried a pair of Jimmy Choos in a bag.

Rumor has it that many are employees of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or ABC, the network that broadcasts the Oscar show. One man did say he is a professional seat filler who owns a tux because he works numerous Hollywood shows.

"I do this all the time," he said.


IF THE FANS HAD A VOTE: And the Oscar goes to "No Country For Old Men," barely beating out "There Will Be Blood," according to an informal poll of the fans in the bleachers lining the red carpet that was conducted by applause.

But if bleacher applause was a true indicator, the accountants bringing the envelopes containing the winners' names would also receive an Oscar.

A huge cheer, accompanied by shouts of, "Show us your briefcases," went up when the accountants walked the red carpet.

Also getting an ovation were two tuxedo-clad ushers who emerged from a limousine.


BETTER THAN THE DENTIST: There's just something more exciting about seeing Nicole Kidman amid all the glitz and glamor of an Academy Awards show rather than back home at the dentist's office.

That's why Becky Brown of Nashville knew she had to book a flight to Hollywood as soon as she won her lottery tickets to sit in the bleachers along the red carpet before Sunday's Oscars show.

As she took her seat, Brown, 53, said she most wanted to catch a glimpse of Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, who are arguably her hometown's most famous couple. It doesn't matter that she already sees them all the time around Nashville.

"They're spotted all over the place," she said. "We go to the same dentist."


OUTSIDE IN THE RAIN: Umbrella over her head, Kiyoko Nagae arrived outside the Kodak Theatre in a steady downpour early Sunday to stake out a piece of sidewalk in hopes of seeing movie stars as they arrived for the evening's Oscars ceremony.

Nagae, 41, couldn't get a ticket for the bleachers that line the red carpet and are protected from the rain by an awning. So she was hoping the downpour might drive away others and give her an unobstructed view.

"I'd like to see anyone," said Nagae, a Japanese native who recently moved to North Hollywood with her American husband. "Stars have a raw power you can feel."

Taking up another section of sidewalk were Tine Bojanna, 37, and her 11-year-old daughter, vacationers from Europe who had no qualms about the weather.

"We're from pan class="yshortcuts">Denmark, so we're used to the rain," said Bojanna.

"The opportunity to see stars — we never get that in Denmark," she said.


NOT EVERYONE AN OSCAR FAN: Not everyone along Hollywood Boulevard had Oscar fever Sunday.

With the street closed to traffic and parking not available for blocks, Rosy Nishad hadn't seen a single customer all day at her Roopa Indian gift shop.

"Lots of people come for the show, to see the actors, but not for belly dancing clothes or incense," she said, "How can I make rent?"

Several stores along the boulevard didn't even bother to open. That wasn't the case, however, at the movie memorabilia store Larry Edmunds, where clerk Jeff Mentor said the main concern was getting home before the crush of celebrities created "limo gridlock."


FOOD FIGHTS: Language and war may divide us, but catering troubles are universal.

Directors of the five Oscar-nominated films in the foreign-language category met Saturday, showing clips from their movies — little-seen so far in the U.S. — and talking over the joys and frustrations of international production.

Sergei Bodrov said his epic "Mongol," Kazakhstan's entry, was shot in Mongolia over the course of two years, with two separate cinematographers. The Russian crew of the film about a young Genghis Khan refused to eat the Chinese food they were served so workers drove 12 hours to pick up new meals, Bodrov said. Picturehouse will release his movie in the U.S. on June 6.

Nikita Mikhalkov, actor-director for Russia's entry, "12," recalled similar difficulties on the set of his Oscar-nominated 1992 film "Close to Eden."

"We had Chinese food and the Russians lost their minds," he said through a translator.


Associated Press writers Sandy Cohen, Derrik J. Lang, Ryan Pearson and Jacob Adelman contributed to this report, and Raquel Maria Dillon contributed for The Associated Press.

2007's worst: Murphy, Lohan rule Razzies

Associated Press

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - A year after his Academy Awards dream went up in smoke, Eddie Murphy has not just one consolation prize, but three: Razzie Awards as worst actor, supporting actor and supporting actress for the comedy "Norbit."

The fourth acting "dis-honor" announced at Saturday's Golden Raspberry Awards went to Lindsay Lohan, who actually was voted two worst-actress trophies for the thriller "I Know Who Killed Me," the worst-picture winner in which she played dual roles.

"I Know Who Killed Me" set a new Razzies record with eight awards, including worst screen couple for Lohan in her double role.

Topping the previous record of seven Razzies for both "Showgirls" and "Battlefield Earth," "I Know Who Killed Me" also won for worst director (Chris Sivertson), screenplay (Jeff Hammond), horror movie, and remake or rip-off (Razzies organizers viewed it as a cross between torture flicks such as "Saw" and a twisted update of "The Patty Duke Show").

With his latest exercise in multiple roles, Murphy was the first person ever to win three acting Razzies in one year. He won as worst actor for the geeky title role, supporting actress as his tubby, shrewish wife and supporting actor as a stereotyped Asian man.

Some awards watchers say "Norbit" cost Murphy an Oscar, landing in theaters shortly before last year's ceremony and potentially displeasing enough academy voters that the balloting went against him for "Dreamgirls," for which he had been the supporting-actor favorite. Murphy lost at the Oscars to Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine."

"Part of why the Razzies exist is to make fun of the academy, which takes itself too seriously," said Razzies founder John Wilson. "If you had tried to make something certain to offend the average 90-year-old academy voter, I don't think you could have done a better job than the foul-mouthed, physically ugly, emotionally ugly movie he unleashed on the world."

The Razzies ceremony at a magic shop in Santa Monica came a day before Sunday's Oscars, where "Norbit" ironically is up for the best-makeup prize against "La Vie En Rose" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Between them, "Norbit" and "I Know Who Killed Me" won all but one of the Razzies.

"We've never had two films so totally dominate, at least not since the heyday of Sylvester Stallone," Wilson said.

The remaining prize still had a Murphy connection, with worst prequel or sequel going to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s "Daddy Day Camp," a follow-up to Murphy's "Daddy Day Care."

Lohan was nominated twice as worst actress, and the Razzie vote wound up in a tie between her separate roles as a small-town girl abducted by a psychopath and an alter ego, a stripper who's missing body parts.

"It's appropriate that it's a tie, because at the end of the movie, you don't know if it was one person or two people, or are they twins, or are we as mentally ill as the screenwriter and director?" Wilson said.

Looking ahead to next year's Razzies, Wilson said he already sees some favorites, including Paris Hilton's recent bomb "The Hottie and the Nottie."

Stallone, the all-time Razzies champ with 30 nominations and 10 wins, dodged the ceremony a year ago after "Rocky Balboa" turned out far better than people expected. The same is not likely to hold true for Stallone's latest critically drubbed sequel, Wilson said.

"Without even having to think," he said, "I expect Sylvester Stallone to be back with 'Rambo.'"


On the Net:


Lindsay Lohan, Eddie Murphy share worst film awards


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Eddie Murphy and an class="yshortcuts">Lindsay Lohan were crowned the worst actors of 2007 at the Golden Raspberry Awards on Saturday and, perhaps not surprisingly, neither star showed up to accept the spoof Oscars.

For their lack of acting prowess, the veteran comic and the young actress with the hard-living reputation each won three gold spray-painted Razzie trophies worth $4.89 each.

The annual honors were announced by the Golden Raspberry Foundation at a presentation that pokes fun at the Academy Awards ceremony that is to be held on Sunday.

In a camp opening number, Dan Campbell and Paula Einstein donned '50s dresses and black "beehive" hairdos and sang: "The worst of last year are trembling with fear," and throughout the show clips were shown of the biggest Hollywood howlers of 2007.

Murphy, who starred in the critically savaged comedy "Norbit," set a record by winning three of the four worst acting categories. Despite bad reviews, moviegoers had turned out for the film, which took in $158 million at worldwide box offices based mostly on Murphy's popularity.

Lohan won two worst actress awards for playing twins in "I Know Who Killed Me," a film that was named worst of the year.

She also won worst screen couple for a scene in which she appears opposite herself in the tale about psychically linked siblings stalked by a serial killer.

"I Know Who Killed Me," a major box office flop with a $9 million take worldwide, won eight of nine Raspberries for which it was nominated, breaking a record of seven wins previously held by "Showgirls" and "Battlefield Earth."

Hollywood abuzz with Oscar preparations

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Jewels and parties. Stars and stand-ins. Rehearsals and news conferences. So much swag even Hollywood canines could rack up free goodies. The city is abuzz with all things Oscar as celebrities flock from all over the world for Sunday's Academy Awards...


STAR-STUDDED REHEARSAL: On Sunday, the Kodak Theater will be filled with stars. On Saturday, they appeared one at a time.

The eve of the Academy Awards is rehearsal day for celebrity presenters. One by one, in 15-minute increments, Oscar winners and other famous folks come to the Kodak to walk on stage and practice their lines.

An unassuming Alan Arkin started Saturday's star parade. Wearing jeans and a black fleece jacket, he skipped to the microphone at center stage. He read from the teleprompter, then said, "And the Oscar goes to me!"

Harrison Ford was next. Carrying a coffee cup, he walked to the edge of the stage to see where he'd be sitting Sunday. A placard with his name and photo sat next to one bearing Calista Flockhart's.

"Aw, she's sitting right next to me," Ford said with mock annoyance about sitting beside his longtime girlfriend.

"We can fix that," stage manager Dency Nelson joked back.

A few academy officials brought their kids and grandkids to the theater Saturday, and just before 11 a.m., it became clear why: Miley Cyrus was coming in to rehearse. Accompanied by her look-alike mom, the gregarious teen star greeted her young fans — and everyone else she came across — with a megawatt grin.

After running through her lines, Cyrus was coached by her mom and publicist. Both urged her to slow down and to smile.

Longtime show writer Bruce Vilanch arrived just as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was expected to take the stage.

"Is this 'The Rock?'" a friend joked, pointing to Vilanch.

"I'm the roll," the rotund writer replied.


GIRL POWER: Don't expect to see Allison Janney, who plays the dog-obsessed stepmother in Best Picture nominee "Juno," at Sunday's ceremony. During a Friday night cocktail party hosted by Women in Film and Perrier-Jouet at a Bel Air mansion, the "West Wing" actress revealed she plans to watch the show at a viewing party and celebrate any "Juno" wins at a Fox Searchlight afterparty.

"I'd rather not go unless I'm nominated," she told the AP. "I've been to enough award shows to know it's not a lot of fun. It's actually stressful. I'd rather be somewhere where I can just chill and not worry."

However, fellow Women in Film cocktail partygoers Nancy Oliver and Tamara Jenkins definitely intend to endure the festivities at the Kodak Theatre. That's because the two female screenwriters are nominated, respectively, for their "Lars and the Real Girl" and "The Savages" scripts.

"I think it'll be like a big theme park ride," said Oliver, who's never attended the Oscars.

This year's 43 female Oscar nominees were toasted at the exclusive event. Potential winners mingling at the soiree were easy to spot in the party's cluster of black cocktail dresses and suits: all nominees donned white corsages. Dana Delaney, Judith Light and Sharon Lawrence were among some of the famous faces in the crowd.


Associated Press writer Derrik J. Lang in Los Angeles contributed to this report

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