It’s no Gosford Park — blame the tacky urban sprawl across the street — but the Kodak Theatre is Hollywood’s version of a grand mansion. As Oscar’s new home, the 3,500-seat, $94 million theater makes its world premiere during one of Oscar’s most security-conscious shows. (The Academy has gone so far as to rent certain rooms in the adjacent Roosevelt Hotel.) Still, expect the red carpet to unfurl pretty much as before: Joan Rivers’ fashion insults on E! (6 to 8 p.m. EST); ABC’s Academy-produced preshow hosted by Leeza Gibbons, Chris Connelly, and Ananda Lewis (8 to 8:30 p.m. EST). Here’s a look at Tinseltown’s most famous walk:
1 The Limo Drop
Where all the fun begins. Between 2 and 5:25 p.m. (PST), more than 3,300 Oscar-goers will exit their limos at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland boulevards. (E! and ABC will station limo-drop cams here.) Unfortunately, everyone who’s anyone arrives in the final 45 minutes, which is why Joan Rivers spends most of her pre-Oscar show mistaking Chow Yun-Fat’s wife for his Crouching Tiger costar Michelle Yeoh. In a maze worthy of Moria, the drop can cause even two-time Oscar winners to lose their way. Last year, as Tom Hanks was whisked through the crowd, he lost hold of wife Rita Wilson’s arm and grabbed the arm of the woman behind him. (”You’re not my wife,” he gasped. ”Yeah, but I’m available,” she gushed.) When Hanks finally made it to the red carpet, he realized that he had left behind his kids, who had his tickets. So how do you spot a star in the sea of black? Ignore the limos and look for special-edition SUVs, which ushered in last year’s winners Julia Roberts and Russell Crowe.
2 Security Tent
Stiletto heels will probably be all right, but no personal cameras or umbrellas are allowed through the security check, only essentials like cigarettes and makeup compacts. Cell phones are frowned on but not forbidden (hey, this is Hollywood). Under the tent you’ll find the beginning of the red carpet and several metal detectors. Those on the north side of the tent are for normal Academy members, sponsors, studio execs, and Lord of the Rings key grips. The ones to the south are for celebs who are going to work the press line. Guess which way Donald Trump and his curvy arm-candy went last year?
3 The Red Carpet
Everyone walks down the same carpet, just not on the same side of the rope running down the center of the carpet. Strolling north of the rope are regular ticket holders (paying up to $350 per orchestra seat) and nominees in categories like Best Documentary Short Film. The mob south of the rope is made up of Oscar-night glitterati — anyone from P. Diddy to Judi Dench — and their entourages doing the press gauntlet. Those normal-looking people crunched up against the stars are publicists guiding the stars to friendly reporters. What if it rains? Three of the last four years a tent was put up over the red carpet, then taken down hours before the show.