It was on March 2 that I first walked on the red carpet at the Oscars, the annual awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and it is a day that will forever be seared in my pop culture-driven brain. For a few memorable hours I shared the same square footage as Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep. While I saw exactly what 43 million viewers nationwide witnessed during the 86th annual awards show's live telecast (all while in the comfort of my budget-friendly hotel room a stone’s throw from the Dolby Theatre), much of what occurred before the show and behind-the-scenes were moments unseen by viewers at home.
Here are six things I learned from attending the 2014 Oscars red carpet:
SECURITY IS TIGHT, REALLY TIGHT
And I mean airport security ... President Obama has to be in town, make sure your liquids are no more than 3.4 ounces and definitely in little baggies kind of tight. While I was expecting nothing less than a few inspections of my press pass at various check points near the Dolby Theatre on the big day, walking through body scanners, getting a full bag search and walking the length of a football field to get to the coveted red carpet were measures I was completely unprepared to face.
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YOU COULD GET SHOT
Not only is security present on the grounds near the Dolby Theatre, one only needed to look to the sky to get a real shock. Lining the streets on and near Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Blvd., were multiple snipers poised to subdue any crazed fans and potentially desperate members of the paparazzi. While I was fearful for my life crossing the street at some intersections out of concern that I may possibly get shot (a complete overreaction on my part), I did witness a man screaming on top of a covered bus station stop, over the top of the six-foot security fence surrounding the red carpet, about a certain actress who “stole his script” without getting as much as a scolding from the local authorities.
Sure, Los Angeles is filled to the brim with individuals of a special caliber day-in and day-out, but the Academy Awards seemed to bring out the especially crazy in droves. On more than one occasion I had people trying to save my soul, teach me to rap one of Snoop Dog’s more notable hits and clowns creepily roaming the streets near the ceremony's location. One of my favorite comments from my short trip to Hollyweird by an especially colorful individual — “It’s not a red carpet if you’re colored blind!”
THE LOCATION ISN’T GLAMOROUS
The Oscars is considered Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, but for those in the know, the event itself takes place … wait for it … inside a shopping mall. If you’re lucky enough to walk the coveted red carpet of the Dolby Theatre you may not notice you’re literally in the midst of a Hard Rock Café, Victoria’s Secret, Flip Flop Stop and even a Hot Topic. Most of these retail outlets are covered and closed to shopper’s days leading up to the awards show. But it's still a shopping mall.
LUPITA NYONG’O TOOK A MOMENT
Before securing her “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar win on March 2, “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o, sporting her now famous blue Prada dress, appeared to have what might have been a meltdown just moments before stepping on the red carpet. Whereas all the other glitterati pulled up in their limousines to the same spot, right in front of the red carpet, got out and walked the red carpet, Nyong'o had her vehicle stop well short of the carpet. As soon as the car stopped, she got out and, placing her hands on the sides of her head, seemed to be struggling to compose herself. And who could blame the 31-year-old film star? She was moments away from being seen by XX million people, far more than watched her stunning portrayal of an American slave.
BEST PICTURE IS HONORED IMMEDIATELY
While the Dolby Theatre’s location is a mere shopping center the theater does have its own star quality, including its reigning display of Oscar-winning films. You may not notice it on television, but the Hollywood Highlands Center pays homage to all previous Best Picture winners, starting with the war drama “Wings," which scored the top honor in 1927/28, all the way to Ben Affleck’s historical feature “Argo” in 2012. Prior to the ceremony on March 2, the 2013 slot was noticeably empty, but only mere hours after “12 Years a Slave” was crowned the last calendar year's winner, its slot was immediately filled in for passerby’s everywhere to admire.