After years of being off-screen, Hollywood Boulevard knocked them dead in a high-profile comeback performance.
There was one consistent comment from guests arriving at Sunday’s ceremony: They were glad the Oscars were back in the film industry’s mythical home.
“I didn’t really feel the impact until the limo door opened,” said Ron Howard. “There was an unexpected satisfaction. It was a welcome throwback to another era.”
“This is where the awards should be — the heart of Hollywood,” said Ridley Scott. “It’s a spectacle,” said John Singleton, “Hollywood is all about reinventing itself.”
The closest anyone came to saying anything less-than-effusive was Ted Turner, who said it “pretty much looked the same” to him.
Certainly the arrivals area was a more theatrical venue than either the Dorothy Chandler or the Shrine: The center lanes of the street were covered in red carpet; fans in bleachers lined the north side of the street; and the press was on scaffolding facing them.
A walkway loaded with cameras bridged the two sides, and the Hollywood sign was off in the distance. The street lights in front of the El Capitan had been removed to lessen the visual clutter. A camera on a 70-foot jib arm floated over the street.
“I feel like an actor in somebody else’s movie,” said “The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson as he surveyed the scene. Fine Line’s Mark Ordesky described the walkway as “Grand Canyon-esque.”
The much-talked about traffic nightmare never materialized, at least partly because guests were told to arrive so early.
“Gosford Park” screenwriter Julian Fellowes was almost through the press line and ready to enter the building at 3:30 p.m. Asked why he’d come so early, the Brit scribe pointed to a publicist and said: “When you’re a visiting foreigner you find a guide and do what you’re told.”
At 3:45, Robert Altman said: “I got here too early and my feet are already starting to hurt.” A few minutes later, Ian McKellen said he had time to kill and would “have a cigarette, if it’s still allowed in this city.”
By 5 p.m. the vast majority of guests were in the building, you could look up Highland Blvd. without seeing an approaching limo, and dozens of valet parkers stood around with nothing to do.
There was a massive amount of security, but it didn’t seem particularly intrusive. Guests quickly passed through the 15 metal detectors. There were detectors set up on side streets so fans (or customers) could access the stores on the boulevard.
The line for this stretched a hundred yards and there wasn’t much to see — except the back of the press area — once they arrived. Even the Disney store was open, but the staff stood in the doorway watching the scene.
As with most security guards, after an initial crush they seemed bored; supervisors were heard discussing how much overtime they could assign. (A 12- hour shift sound like the max.)
Also watching the stars arrive, was a massive contingent of L.A. police. There were so many unmarked cars parked in the middle of streets it looked like a dealership that only handled Chevy Caprices and Ford Crown Victorias.
When asked if there were any problems, an LAPD sergeant said “just a lot of unhappy people” and pointed toward the fans on the sidewalk.
The security seemed to include rooftop spotters sending messages to the police on the street. At one point, the police radios were buzzing to watch out for “the guy with the punked out hair carrying a bag.”
If there was a loser in Hollywood Blvd’s big night it was probably Sunset Blvd., which seemed to be the preferred destination for much of the crazier elements pushed south by the police presence.