7 Things I Didn't Know About the Oscars Until I Was In the Audience

3 years ago
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“I need a dress!” I posted on Facebook the day the Oscar nominations were announced. My husband’s first documentary had made the list and—against all odds—we were going to the Oscars. 

That was four years ago, and as the 87th Academy Awards Ceremony approaches, I feel the excitement build up again. I can hear the crowds screaming, see the glaring lights, feel the red carpet under my five-inch heels. It was every bit as glamorous as I had expected, and more. But along the way I ran into a few surprises.

Image: © Barbara Munker/DPA/ZUMA Wire

  1. The big stars are just like you and me—they don’t give a damn about the lesser awards. During these segments of the ceremony, you have a greater chance of finding them in the bar than in their seats. 
  2. There is a whole army of people called “seat fillers,” lined up outside the doors. Their job is—yep, you guessed it!—to fill the empty seats. This way, if you happen to glance at the TV during, say the award for sound editing, you won’t have a clue that the hall is half empty. 
  3. The Oscars is an event staged for television. Nothing goes on during the commercials. They announce the end of each break with: “We’re back in 10 seconds. Six, five, four, three, applause please!”
  4. The Kodak Theater is not as glamorous as it looks on TV. It’s in a shopping mall, for Christ’s sake!
  5. California might have been the first state in the U.S. to enact a smoking ban, but Hollywood seems to follow its own rules. I saw a lot of smoking throughout the Oscar season but it all culminated at the Vanity Fair after-party where people didn’t bother to step outside. I had quit years ago but felt compelled to light up a cigarette just for the experience of smoking indoors in a public space—a rare privilege you can no longer enjoy even in Parisian bars.
  6. Kevin Spacey is just as suave in person as on the big screen. And, yep, he does smoke, or at least he did back then. He bummed a cigarette from us.
  7. You won’t know it from watching the TV broadcast, but it isn’t exactly warm in LA in February. It was in the 50s the year I was there and we were all freezing, from the reporters to the starlets, in our sleeveless, backless gowns. 

While, unfortunately, my husband’s film didn’t win, we did get a taste of what the Oscars are really like: glamorous, freezing, and just a tad boring. How many thank-you speeches can one take without some pizza, a glass of wine, and the company of friends with whom to admire—or trash—the actresses’ gowns? 

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Daniela Petrova is a New York-based, freelance writer and blogger who writes about travel, food, art, relationships, and health. Follow her on her blog, Daniela’s Travels, Twitter, and Instagram

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