Red carpet rush starts this week

Consider your dance card full until the end of February.

With this week marking the start of the final leg of the Oscar race, bizzers are in for nothing but back-to-back hotel chicken dinners, film festival honors and DVD release parties, among other carefully crafted PR stunts. It’s the time of year when gifting suites and beauty lounges are the only moments of relative peace (and personal grooming) any awards-season regular can find.

This week alone is jam-packed with glitzy red-carpet events, including the Critics Choice Movie Awards, the AFI Awards, the BAFTA/LA Tea Party, the Independent Spirit Awards Brunch, and, of course, Sunday’s Golden Globe fete.

It’s enough to make anyone long for a weekend getaway, but that getaway will probably take you to Palm Springs or Santa Barbara because there’s campaigning to be done and speeches to be given.

Oscar polls close on Friday, but don’t count on any respite from the frenzy while PriceWaterhouseCoopers is stacking up ballots. It’s just the calm before the storm.

However, the next time you’re squeezing into a mildly uncomfortable chair at a table of 12 that’s clearly built to seat eight, remember that these are champagne problems. If it weren’t important (and frankly, so much fun), you wouldn’t keep coming back for more every year.

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