EW'S EIGHT-POINT RED-CARPET PRIMER
Here's how to navigate the treacherous 500 feet between Highland Avenue's drop-off area and the Kodak Theatre:
1 CHOOSE YOUR RIDE
Make a statement in a Toyota Prius as Leo and Cameron have been doing since 2003.
2 TIME YOUR ARRIVAL
The bigger the stars, the later they show up. So if you're with PricewaterhouseCoopers, arrive before 2:30 p.m. By 4, the media will only have eyes for Charlize.
3 LEAVE YOUR WEAPONS AT HOME
Metal detectors have been red-carpet fixtures since 1991, after the Gulf War.
4 BUT BRING YOUR PUBLICIST
They'll be rude so you don't have to. Without Stan Rosenfield, George Clooney might get stuck chatting with Brazilian TV while E! waits.
5 SMILE FOR THE TV CAMERAS
After visiting ABC, hit the adjacent area for Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart and Extra's Mark McGrath. Beware E!'s Isaac ''Miss Grabby'' and TV Guide's catty Joan Rivers.
6 THEN TALK TO THE SCRIBES
Alongside a few TV crews (including Access Hollywood) are the major print outlets: PEOPLE, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and, of course, EW.
7 POSE FOR A LAST-MINUTE PICTURE
You want your mug in all those magazines, but not your breasts. So learn from Minnie Driver's 1998 nip slip and buy double-stick tape.
8 MAKE YOUR ENTRANCE
You may opt to slip off those Jimmy Choos before climbing the 37 steps leading to the Kodak Theatre.
THE LIMO DRIVERS
After dropping off their glittery passengers, chauffeurs decamp to the Hollywood Bowl parking lot and stage their own party. ''It's like a tailgate,'' says veteran driver Jack Martin, ''but with no alcohol involved, of course.''
In 1976, ABC won the exclusive rights to air the Oscars (it has the show through 2014). In 1999, the network also became the only media outlet allowed to broadcast during the last 30 minutes of arrivals, from 4:30 to 5 p.m. PST when the most sought-after stars swish through. Hence, ABC has the sole raised platforms on the carpet.
The first Oscar arrivals area was staged in the 1930s, but today's televised frenzy dates to 1995, when Joan and Melissa Rivers debuted their E! preshow. After a contract dispute in 2004, the duo moved to the TV Guide Channel. FUN FACT In 1995, Joan angered Liz Hurley by asking, ''Are you an actress also?''
THE ''CELEBRITY GREETER''
This official title and prime red-carpet spot has belonged to Variety's legendary Army Archerd since 1958. This year, he's passing the torch to Hollywood Reporter veteran Robert Osborne. FUN FACT In 1996, Laurence Fishburne warned Archerd: ''If you call me Larry one more time, I'll break both your legs.''
THE PRESS TOWER
TV sidekicks (think Giuliana DePandi) are stationed here during the preshows, basically killing time before the major stars arrive.
THE FASHION MOMENTS
In 1996, Sharon Stone won kudos for wearing a simple black Gap turtleneck and got the retail chain to donate a hefty sum to charity. Alas, Björk's 2001 swan dress and Barbra Streisand's 1969 Arnold Scaasi peekaboo pantsuit did not go over so well. FUN FACT As if Streisand's Scaasi pantsuit wasn't sheer enough, the material ripped open as she walked on stage to accept her Oscar.