Oscar fights for his privacy

Suit returns to Horowitz's court

With Oscar night right around the corner, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences might have to go to trial to prove that the coveted tickets are non-transferable and the ceremony is indeed a private affair.

In an opinion dated late last year, the California Court of Appeal reversed a lower-court decision prohibiting ticket broker Rey Olsen and his company, World Sports Group, from buying or selling Academy Award tickets. In a largely procedural decision, a three-judge panel ruled that L.A. Superior Court Judge David Horowitz erred when he enjoined Olsen from selling the tickets without letting the factual issues go to a jury.

The appeal court held that it was a question for the jury whether Rey was aware that there was a contract prohibiting resale of tickets between the Academy and its members and whether the Academy consented to letting holders of resold tickets onto the premises.

Academy spokesman John Pavlik said, “The Academy will continue to prosecute this case until it is resolved.”

The suit is now back in Horowitz’s court.

The Academy filed suit following the 1998 Oscars ceremony, when it learned through a private investigator that Olsen was selling tickets to the event. On Oscar night, tickets originally issued to Michael Dante, a former member of the Academy, were used by a couple who had won them in a radio contest. The couple were seated, but when they were questioned about the tickets and asked to leave, they complied.

Just last week, auction Web site Taketoauction.com was offering Oscar tickets to the highest bidder. But the Academy filed suit and the offer was withdrawn.