Instead of cheering fans, stars arriving at Sunday night's Oscars will likely encounter angry anti-war protesters. Demonstrators were already gathering Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., with a total of several thousand expected near the Kodak Theatre to protest the war in Iraq, according to Robert Jude, spokesperson for one participating group, Not in Our Name. ''The idea is to peacefully and nonviolently disrupt the whole event as much as possible,'' Jude tells EW.com. He adds, however, that the groups are aware of the heavy police and National Guard presence at the awards, and don't necessarily expect to be able to get near the theater.
In fact, protesters will be confined to a space several blocks away, police said last week. (A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department had no further comment on the protests, and a spokesperson for the Academy had no comment.) A smaller group of pro-war demonstrators will also reportedly be kept at a distance. Jude says that many protesters feel that it's inappropriate to hold the Oscars at all with the war going on. But at a press conference on Friday, Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, disagreed. ''At a time when American culture and values are under attack all over the world, we think it is more important than ever that we honor those achievements that reflect us and America at our best,'' he said.