There was something oddly normal about standing there in the shadow of The Kodak Theater tonight as Hollywood’s most-celebrated walked Oscar red carpet.
Maybe it was the light; the typically sun-dappled, Technicolor California sky was choked with clouds. Maybe it was that I’ve done a few of these before (see also Grammys, VMAs, etc). Or maybe it was optical fatigue; I mean, we’ve all seen a few million red carpets on E!, right?
Either way, I was wound pretty tightly as Josh Horowitz and I pulled into the press parking lot on Sunset & Argyle, the Hollywood sign looming not far above. I pulled my Toyota 626 into my spot, pulled on my jacket, and stepped towards the shuttle bus. Here’s how the rest of it went down…
12:46PT- The Oscars don’t begin for just shy of four hours, and yet I’m a) en route (shuttle bus to Hollywood & Highland from Sunset & Vine; Cindy Adams is on our bus, by the way) and b) exhausted; I haven’t quite adjusted to the time zone despite being here since Wednesday.
12:54PT- “We make most of our money selling video feeds to partners,” one network journalist behind me says. “We had sixty clients last year. This year we’re down to thirty.”
1:00PT- I’m standing on Tom Selleck’s star on Hollywood Boulevard waiting to pass through security. Helicopters are buzzing overhead. It feels like we’re going to battle… in tuxedos.
1:14PT- We’ve assumed our positions, a four-foot wide, six-foot deep, two-level riser roughly half-way down the red carpet. There are far too many men wearing far too much makeup. (One fella’ in front of me is wearing a white bow tie turned orange). At this point, the audience is in place and cheering on cue, but the celeb quotient is zero. Press outlets are interviewing each other.
1:45PT- “Deborah Norville! “Deborah Norville! “Deborah Norville!” Josh says. “I’m about to get inside her edition.”
1:56PT- Al Roker just waddled by.
2:04PT- First celebrity on the red carpet? America’s Best Dance Crew host (and former Save By The Bell star) Mario Lopez.
2:07PT- Lisa Renna? Lovely woman I’m sure. But lookin’ a little tired under the eyes, brittle in the hair and puffy in the lips. Not to be mean, but just a little scary.
2:26PT – Wow, Mickey Rooney. He’s walking slowly, holding onto a the woman in front of him, looking up and grinning. What must he think of how radically all of this has changed since, say “Mickey’s Busy Day”?
2:43PT- Wolfgang Puck and Tim Gunn narrowly avoid red carpet run-in. Phew. That Oscar cake of his would have been all over the place.
2:46PT- Price Waterhouse briefcase guys walk the carpet to prompted applause.
3:00PT- Miley Cyrus is here: It’s on like… a silly love song!
3:14PT- Phoebe Cates (mis-identified by the announcer as Selma Heyek) walks by prompting “Fast Times” flashbacks.
3:44PT- Here’s who’s in eyeshot right now: Anthony Hopkins, Louis Gossett Jr., Danny Glover, Man on Wire Philippe Petit and Zack Efron. Such odd juxtapositions.
4:06PT- Gus Van Zandt looks like he got his jacket at The Gap. Great tie, though.
4:10PT- josh just asked the “Slumdog Millionaire” kids how manu Oscars they have between them. I’m not sure they understood it was a joke, but are adorable and hilariously, excellently enthusiastic.
4:14PT- James Franco hip-hop just hugged a random publicist.
4:15PT- “Everybody,” the announcers says over the din of helicopters, “Robert Pattison!!!” Shreiks drown EVERYTHING out.
4:19PT- Within eyeshot: Anne Hathaway (with whom Josh is speaking), Heidi Klum and Seal talking with Dev Patel, Matthew Broderick & Sarah Jessica Parker, Danny Boyle, Richard Jenkins, Penelope Cruz and Fred Willard.
4:45PT- The brain-numbing cognitive dissonance continues as Kate Winslet (hubba hubba), Sofia Lauren, Frank Langella, Peter Gabriel and Robert Downey pass by. Josh valiently hollars, “Robert! Robert! Robert!” To no avail.
4:46PT- Brad and Angelina float by, pausing only long enough to greet “Slumdog” co-star Madhur Mittal.
4:55PT- Josh interviews Ron Howard and David Frost. Christofers’ first job was editing his US interview specials at Classic Video in Cleveland. Now here we are.
4:56PT- Penelope Cruz blows off Josh. Sigh. I think we’re done here.
* * *
I’m back in my room at The Chamberlain now. My tux is strewn across the bed. The screen door is thrown wide. The day is done.
Just a few hours later, though, it already seems like a dream, like something I watched on television. I know I was there; I’ve seen the pictures. So I’m not sure why it seems so fantastical or out-of-body. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I have a bag to pack, a rental car to return, a plane to catch, and a wife to embrace, though. So if you’ll excuse me, I have my own movie to make: The Story of My Life.