Sunday’s Academy Awards will be be protected by a massive security presence — with federal, state and local law enforcement anchored by a 500-officer contingent from the Los Angeles Police Department.
The deployment is on a par, or slightly larger, than in years past, with visitors required to pass through three security perimeters before they can reach the red carpet outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
Security preparations for the 88th annual awards fete are a massive undertaking, with planning beginning virtually after the end of last year’s show and the first street closures beginning three weeks prior to the big event. Formal red carpet arrivals begin at 4 pm, local time, with host Chris Rock kicking off the awards at 5:30 pm., broadcast on ABC.
“It’s a very robust footprint,” said Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala, the LAPD official overseeing security. “We want to make sure that we protect what we consider a very valuable asset, the film industry, which is our most valuable export in connecting with the rest of the world.”
The Dec. 2 attack on government offices in San Bernardino, which killed 14 people, offered vivid evidence of the real possibility of terrorist violence in Southern California. Local police have put extra patrols since then to try to keep an eye on so-called “soft targets,” public places with little or no security.
While the attack caused “heightened awareness” for the public and law enforcement, it has not materially impact law enforcement planning for the hard target that is the annual Oscar-fest, said Girmala. “We have already been maintaining a level of readiness,” she said.
The general public, which has little access to the area around the Dolby, might be further discouraged by another change this year: a tent over the red carpet. The covering will make it even more difficult for fans to get a look at the stars. (Academy officials did not immediately comment on the purpose of the tent, though it was presumably ordered up with forecasters eyeing this winter’s forecast El Nino. Instead of moisture, though, the National Weather Service is now projecting a sunny and 70-ish Sunday afternoon.)
Another group not welcome in and around the show: the menagerie of several dozen celebrity/character impersonators who normally scratch for spare cash outside Hollywood Boulevard’s landmark theaters. The costumed super-heroes are not allowed in the area for a week prior to the Oscars, police officials said. Some of the characters use the Academy Award hiatus to take their acts to other venues, like the Venice Boardwalk or even Las Vegas.
The security precautions entering Ground Zero should look familiar to Academy Award regulars, with all cars searched and surveyed, beneath, with mirrors, to detect explosives. Only cars with permits will be allowed into the epicenter around Hollywood Boulevard.
Among the street and sidewalk closures for the event:
–Hawthorn Alley, from Orange Dr. to Highland Ave.
–Orange Dr., from Hawthorn Ave. to Hollywood Blvd.
–North and South sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd., from Highland Ave. to 300 feet east of Highland Ave.
–South sidewalk of Hollywood Blvd. directly in front of the north-south running Hawthorn Alley. No pedestrian access to cross alley.
–East and West sidewalk of Highland Ave., from Hollywood Blvd. to Hawthorn Ave., except for an 8 foot pedestrian walkway.
–East sidewalk of Highland Ave., from Yucca St. to Hollywood Blvd. except for an 8 foot pedestrian walkway.
–East curb lane of Highland Ave. from Yucca St. to Hollywood Blvd.
–North and south crosswalks at Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 6:00 a.m. on Monday.
–Highland Ave., from Sunset Blvd. to Franklin Ave., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday.
–Hollywood Blvd., from LaBrea Ave. to Orange Dr., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday.
–Hollywood Blvd., from Highland Ave. to Cahuenga Blvd from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday.
–Hawthorn Ave., between Orange Dr. and LaBrea Ave. from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday. (Soft closure; access granted to residents and businesses.)
–Hawthorn Ave., between Highland Ave. and McCadden Pl., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday. (Soft closure.)
–McCadden Pl., between Yucca St. and Wilcox Ave., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday. (Soft closure.)
–Yucca St., between Highland Ave. and Wilcox Ave., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday. (Soft closure.)
–Wilcox Ave., between Sunset Blvd. and Cahuenga Blvd., from 4:00 a.m. on Sunday until 4:00 a.m. on Monday. (Soft closure.)