Today is the day that Uncle Oscar gets handed out to the hardworking deserving people in the motion picture industry. How wonderful to have a forum where your work is not only acknowledged but acclaimed. I have never worked in a job where awards were handed out for anything. Unless of course you count the paycheck I got every week and to be honest that is acknowledgement for me.
Now every year the street in front of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood gets shut off. They setup blocked off areas for these Hollywood Notables to walk through and wave to the little people who pay big bucks to see them on the big screen. They arrive in limousines in designer clothing with jewelry from Harry Winston dripping from their ears, necks and wrists.
Kahuna and I have had in our relationship a practice of going away for one weekend a month. We take turns planning and procuring our events, lodging and location. We usually stay within a hundred mile radius of our home so that it is an easy drive or train ride. Then we act as tourist in our own backyard.
One March several years ago Kahuna planned a special outing. We left early Saturday morning and headed towards Los Angeles. We drove the 15 to the 91 to the 101 to the 110 that brought us into downtown L.A. I had no idea where we were headed and continued to ask “where are we going, what are we going to do, why are we going to L.A. etc.” Kahuna would drive and just smile not giving away our destination. I was a at a total loss until we pulled into the valet parking at a large high rise hotel in downtown L.A. The valet took our car and gave us a ticket and we walked into the lobby. Kahuna looked at me and asked “do you know where you are now?” I was baffled, I didn’t have a clue. I looked around and the hotel looked familiar but I knew I had never been there before. We checked in and the bell boy took our bags and we boarded the elevator. That’s when it hit me. I knew where I was as the elevator rose to the top floor the realization hit me. I was in the elevator that Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken to the top floor on the back of a horse in True Lies. Yes folks we had arrived at the Bonaventure hotel of the stars.
This is the Bonaventure. If you have never had the pleasure I highly recommend it. Stay as close to the top as possible. It makes earthquakes much more interesting.
We decided that we would proceed on our being tourist in our own backyard adventure by loading up the camera and going to Hollywood. We didn’t stop to consider why the hotel was so full or why there seemed to be so many people in L.A. on this sunny March weekend. We did what any typical L.A. tourist would do. We headed out to see Sunset Boulevard and the ‘walk of stars’. One thing you must remember is that Kahuna never met a stranger and doesn’t take no for an answer. We arrived on the Strip to a cavalcade of on lookers. There were road blocks and traffic cones everywhere. Kahuna pulled the car up to a traffic directing officer and asked “Where do we park? We are supposed to be the theater in 30 minutes.” I sat in the passenger seat not saying a word and biting my bottom lip so I don’t break out laughing. The officer says “do you have your pass?” Kahuna pulled out his SAG card and says “not yet. That’s why we have to be at the theater today.” The officer looked at the card and then told us to go around the block and park at the Roosevelt Hotel.
This is the Roosevelt. It doesn't look like much from the outside.
We again had the valet take our vehicle and then made our way through the hotel and around to the theater. Can I take a moment here to tell you I am probably in need of some serious psychological counseling. Anytime I hand the keys over to a valet I have this vision of them taking off on a wild ride around the town like they did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Like I said Kahuna has never met a stranger. I popped into the ladies room to powder my nose and fluff my hair only to be met on my exit by Kahuna talking to some guy. He looked at me and said “honey, they are going to show us where we need to go in about 15 minutes. Do you want a coffee?” I looked at Kahuna knowing that we were in full bullshit mode and said “I guess that would be fine. I hope they hurry though I still have a final dress fitting this afternoon.” About that time a young intern appeared and escorted us through the theater. She took us up on stage and placed in the seats where pictures of various stars to give us an idea of where these people would be sitting. She continued the tour to the lobby and showed us where the stars went to sip Champagne and chit chat and how they got taken back stage. She also started pointing out various aspects of who will be seated where and what to do when they got up out of their seats. They told us that no seat should be left empty at any time.
If you have the opportunity to take a tour of the Kodak, I highly advise it. It really is pretty neat. They have copies of Oscars and they give a really good tour. Especially if they think you are a nobody filling in for a somebody.
That was when it hit me. They thought we were seat fillers. We weren’t of course we were just doing the tourist thing. We hadn’t realized that it was Oscar Weekend. We were taken around the theater and told that usually this is done the week before but since we were filling in for the fillers in that they would run through it so that there weren’t any questions. That’s when Kahuna piped up and said “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We are just here for the tour.” The intern looked at him horrified and said “What do you mean your just here for the tour?” Kahuna said “Well, like I said before my wife and I are here to fill in and take the tour. Our travel agent back in Iowa told us that sometimes they have people who pay for but don’t show up for the tour of the theater. So I told that guy up front I was here to fill in and asked him what time the tour was. Then he called you.” The intern was thoroughly disgusted and I was biting back a serious case of uncontrollable giggles. We did however get a wonderful tour of the theater and got to look at the Academy Awards before the ceremony took place. We also got to hang out in the Roosevelt hotel for the afternoon.
Were you aware that most of the stars you see getting out of those limos are actually staying at the Roosevelt? They get in the limo and get driven around the corner and let out in front. Then the limo goes and picks up someone else and does it all over again. In truth all they have to do is walk around the corner and bing bang bam they would have saved a gallon of gas. Since the Roosevelt is connected to the Kodak they in all reality could just walk through the hotel to the theater and completely by-pass the paparazzi and the annoying questions of “Who are you wearing.”
So as you’re watching the pomp and circumstance of the red carpet hoop-de-la remember this. They are probably coming from just around the corner where for the last 24 hours they have been lying in bed eating cold pizza and watching the “Dirty Jobs” all day marathon. They have to get up and go pee just like everyone else and when they do someone who is a no one will be sitting in their seats. Doesn’t sound so glamorous when you see it from behind the scenes. That my friend is what makes Hollywood…Hollywood.