War blitzkrieg takes away Oscar glitter
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War blitzkrieg takes away Oscar glitter

The glitzy red carpet arrival that is a trademark of the Oscars show will be scaled back to reflect the sombre atmosphere of war in Iraq.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2003 17:00 IST

The glitzy red carpet arrival that is a trademark of the Oscars show will be dramatically scaled back this year to reflect the sombre atmosphere of war in Iraq, say the event organisers. Theyannounced that the traditional glamorous party atmosphere would be toned down by effectively eliminating one of the highlights of the Oscars, the red carpet fashion show, for the first time.

"The traditional splashy red carpet arrivals line will be truncated and portions of the arrivals press line will be eliminated," said Oscar producer Gil Cates at a press conference. "The Academy is mindful that many of its celebrity guests would feel uncomfortable arriving at this year's awards at the beginning of a major war to face a business-as-usual phalanx of interviewers and photographers."

But organisers stressed that while the pre-show would be radically modified to reflect the "soberness and seriousness" of the situation, they vowed that the presentation ceremony itself would go ahead on Sunday as scheduled.

"We are all continuing to work diligently to put the 75th Academy Awards on the air at 5:30pm (0130 GMT) on this coming Sunday," Cates said. "But that said, we all understand that the country is fighting a war and we have sent in American men and women into harm's way, and we must prepare for the show to be produced under these circumstances."

Cates comments were echoed by Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences which awards the Oscars. "We felt that in light of the circumstances that we are in now in the world, that we needed to reflect a kind of seriousness that reflected the situation that we are all confronted with," he said.

Under the new arrangements, celebrity will no longer be dropped off by their limousines at the end of a long red carpet lined by hundreds of press photographers and fans. Instead, they will arrive directly at the entrance of Hollywood's Kodak Theatre and will not stop for interviews or pause for photographs before they enter the auditorium.

A small press pool will be posted on the reduced red carpet at the foot of the long staircase that guests mount to enter the theatre. Some 500 fans who had won tickets in a draw to sit in grandstands outside the Oscars venue will no longer get a ringside view.

The changes were made after worried stars contacted organisers concerned that it would be inappropriate to walk down the red carpet wearing designer clothes and jewels while a war was underway. Several had requested to be let in through a back door and had asked Cates if they could tone down their usually spectacular dresses too, but none had cancelled plans to attend the show, he said.

"The Academy Awards has always reflected what is going on the world," the producer said. While Cates said he would prefer winners to speak only of their Oscar win during their 45 second speeches, he stressed that they were however free to talk about the war if they so desired. But, he warned, it would be "incorrect in my view and inappropriate" for Oscar presenters – who this year will include outspoken anti-war activist Susan Sarandon – to make any changes to the agreed script.

Organisers said they were also ready to make further changes to Hollywood's biggest night if events on the ground meant that was necessary. "I'm quite in agreement that if we were to do something that looked self serving and frivolous on a night when our troops were in bloody combat it would be absolutely inappropriate," Pierson said.

The Oscars telecast is the second most-watched event on US television after the football Superbowl and ABC sells 30 second commercial spots during the show for up to 1.4 million dollars.

A decision to interrupt or cut short the Oscars telecast, which reportedly also brings the Academy around 30 million dollars in revenue each year, would likely spell financial disaster for this year's show.

First Published: Mar 20, 2003 19:25 IST