Most of the year, Norm Kinard runs his own event transportation planning and management business, Highland Parking & Transportation on Laurel Canyon. But on Oscar night, he is limo wrangler to the stars. As the official limousine and valet coordinator for the Academy Awards, Kinard, will oversee 1,350 vehicles on March 2. Over the past 23 years, he’s worked his way up from parking attendant to garage manager to the department’s exec director to his current post.
Kinard ensures that 700 limos arrive on time to Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Only greeters can open passenger doors; drivers have to stay in their vehicles. After celebs make their red carpet entrances (hopefully fashionably early), he keeps their limos in a holding area at the Hollywood Bowl, with chauffeurs in a standby area.
A DAY TO VALET
Kinard also makes sure there are enough valets on hand to handle the 650 cars that arrive separately, and must be parked on site. “There’s a lot of different personalities, and when you’re out there on the street on show day, there are people screaming, and tension is high,” he says. “The event is going on live, so there’s a lot of pressure associated with that. For me, it’s just about making sure that everyone gets in safely and on time.”
HURRY UP AND WAIT
Once the chauffeurs park at the Bowl, they have to leave their sedans, stretches, SUVs and hybrids (just about every limo in the area is utilized, Kinard says) and make their way to a covered, heated outdoor picnic area. The group, some 800 strong, including logistics staff, settles in to watch the Oscars and eat a catered dinner from Patina. “We try to make it as comfortable as possible, because the chauffeurs are not supposed to leave,” Kinard notes. “We speak to them over a PA system and coordinate and manage departures.”
One of the many reasons for the live feed, is that the night’s results affect those waiting at the Bowl. “Who wins what may determine how their night goes and what they can expect from their client when they pick them up,” he explains.
Kinard admits that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, chauffeurs can’t be located after the show, forcing him to scramble to find replacement cars to take celebs home. There also have been a few oddities. “One year,” he says, “we had the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile show up on the red carpet.” Special arrangement had to be made for the driver, he notes. Perhaps a holding area near Pink’s?