Oscar Governors Ball: John Legend, 1500 Guests and 1000 Pounds of Chocolate

The March 2 Governors Ball will welcome 1,500 guests to a cocktail party atmosphere in “an elegant, park-like setting,” chairman Jeffrey Kurland told Variety at a Thursday morning preview.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences welcomed 150 media members from 75 global news outlets for the press preview at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland.

The Acad released some “fun facts” about the evening that are pretty jaw-dropping: two miles of LED lighting creating “stars” overhead, two full-grown pepper trees, 10,000 blooms from various countries, 1,3000 oysters, 600 lobsters, 1500 potatoes, 7500 pieces of shrimp, 1000 pounds of bittersweet chocolate and 950 staffers.

The event will feature lounge seating, with food on the table as well as hundreds of waiters circulating with trays and food stations scattered around the room. Guests (about half of the 3,000 people who will attend the ceremony) will have lounge seating. Kurland, in his fifth year as chair, said the goal is to create a flow of people to schmooze and move around, because the sit-down atmosphere of some past events was a little confining and stodgy.

Kurland said he and event producer Cheryl Cecchetto began planning in September and “it’s a labor of love.” This marks the 25th year for Cecchetto and her Sequoia Prods. team producing the ball. The open seating and entertainment (which this year is provided by John Legend and Gregg Field leading a band) helps the party atmosphere, Kurland told Variety, “when the ceremony is over and all the anxieties have washed away.” While they have eliminated the formal-dinner aspect, “we’re not cutting back on the food!”

Master chef Wolfgang Puck, in his 20th year with the Governors Ball, chef Matt Bencivenga and their team have created a menu with 50 dishes.

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