Oscar teeters between Shrine and Pavilion

Academy Awards to change venues in 1999

Putting off for another year speculation about a permanent home for the Academy Awards, Oscar will likely return to the L.A. County Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1999.

The 71st Oscar show will be the first in three years to be held at the Chandler. This year’s Awards presentation was held at the Shrine Auditorium – as will next year’s – because of logistical and financial disputes between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Music Center management and the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra.

Several of the key sticking points have apparently been resolved in recent months. Some financial issues, however, still remain to be worked out, said sources close to the negotiations.

The Music Center Operating Company is now drafting a contract for the March 1999 event, said its president, Sandra Kimberling. The agreement, which will soon be delivered to the Academy for signature, is believed to conform to the bulk of the conditions set out by AMPAS.

One major dispute had been a scheduling conflict with the Philharmonic’s 1999 concert season, which cut into the 12-14 day load-in period the Academy requires for the Oscarcast.

“There was a little bit of a misunderstanding about which dates were available,” said Kimberling.

Ernest Fleischmann, the orchestra’s longtime managing director, said the Philharmonic is organizing a U.S. tour for March of 1999, “in order that the Academy could have an extended period of two and a half weeks in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.”

Earlier in the year, the two sides appeared far apart on several issues. Negotiations began to move forward a little over a month ago after it was reported that Academy officials had toured theaters in Orange County and Long Beach as alternative sites for the Awards show (Daily Variety, May 9).

For the last three decades, the Oscarcast has alternated between the 3,200-seat Chandler and the 6,300-seat Shrine Auditorium. The Awards were last presented at the Chandler in 1996.

While the Chandler is considered by many to be the more elegant and intimate location, it is not large enough to accommodate demand for tickets from the Academy’s 5,000-plus members.

Next year’s Oscars ceremony is set for March 23 at the Shrine.

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