“Mom, I’m on the red carpet at the Oscars!” whispered a man behind me
excitedly into his mobile and I knew I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed
to be at the most glamorous event in the world.
I boldly pulled out my camera and quickly snapped a shot of the gigantic
Oscar beside me. It’s not cool but who cares, no-one can be cool at the
starriest party on earth.
I’ve attended a few major movie events now but the Oscars carpet has a
magic of its own.
The BAFTAs may have come a long way in the glamour stakes in recent
years. And Cannes, despite passé sequins and visible bra straps, may have the
beaches and sunshine but nothing can top Hollywood’s biggest night of
Yes, we’re talking The Academy Awards. That’s Oscar to you and me. It’s
the glitziest party of the year.
But first problem? How do you ever get an invite without a nomination or
a blood tie to Mr Spielberg?
It was a question that plagued me often as I sat at home in front of the
television each year watching the parade of gorgeous gowns and tear
sodden acceptance speeches.
What would it be like, I dreamed, to be in the midst of all that
glamour, all that glitz, all that silicone…?
Then lady-luck brought me a friend who had ‘connections.’ A few pleading
calls suggesting he sell his first born to get me a pass and hey presto!
Quicker than you can say ‘blackmail’ ‘threat’ or ‘I’ve got the
photographs’, I had it.
One minute I was in cold, grey London, the next I was strolling up the
red carpet alongside the good the great and the beautiful seeing first
hand why they call this business ‘show’.
The Oscars is the one night of the year when every actor looks every
inch a movie star.
It all starts in the middle of the afternoon but has the feel of a dream
throughout. You see more superstars than you can shake a designer clutch
Heck, you can’t move for tripping over a megastar.
Virtually everyone you’ve ever seen up on the silver screen in your life
flashes before your eyes as you make your way up the carpet.
Quite honestly, where is a girl to look
If you turn to the left and see Julia, you’ll miss Mr Hanks who is
passing on your right and you almost certainly won’t be able to swear
that it was indeed George who brushed past you and not just one of his
minders. There’s Reese over there, Harrison over here, Di Caprio’s head
just visible beyond the cameras and oh my God, Clint Eastwood coming
right at you!
The first bit of unreality hits even before you enter the carpet area.
The row of impossibly long limousines starts somewhere near the border
with Mexico. Then you get into a queue of your own for the security
checks and who knows who might be having their bag prodded right next to
I felt someone stepping on the hem of my dress. I turned round and there
was Catherine Zeta Jones, looking very elegant, very Ava Gardener and
unfortunately very overdone.
Sorry Cathy but you really don’t need all that stage slap, you’re
beautiful enough without it. I was tempted to remind the poor girl of
the first rule of makeup – blend, blend and BLEND! But I settled for a
timid “excuse me, you’re standing on my dress.”
Catherine, is healthy looking but most of the actresses, though much
prettier in the flesh than on screen, are frighteningly skinny and
surprisingly tiny. Although practically obese as a British size 8, being
petite is probably another reason why security didnt escort me off as an
imposter. They probably just assumed I was the wife/ girlfriend of a
powerful movie executive – who (gasp) still eats.
The women are all beautiful but there is a real dearth of good-looking
men. Ben Affleck is handsome but he has zero charisma and so his fine
chiselled looks quickly become bland.
Any men out there who are halfway decent looking and heterosexual,
should, I suggest, make a beeline for Hollywood on a night like this. I
guarantee you’d be mobbed!
There’s no doubt there is a way of working the red carpet and you either
have it or you don’t.
As I watched the stars doing the rounds of interviews with the scores of
journalists from around the world I began to understand why some make it
big and others don’t despite greater talent or better looks. The
superstars have an almost visible aura around them that cannot be
diminished by a bad outfit or a flop film.
After the red carpet, the awards are something of a chore, unless you
win one. The show goes on for longer than Lord of the Rings, parts 1,2
and 3 with maybe two instalments of the The Hobbit thrown in for good
After the awards come the parties. Dozens are held across the city.
Everyone in Hollywood is either ‘in the business,’ or desperately trying
to get into it. So, even a get together of some friends with a few
packets of potato chips turns into ‘an Oscar party.’
The big ones of course are the ones the biggest stars attend. Unless
you’re carrying an Oscar or on the arm of someone who is, it’s pretty
impossible to get into one of these. Security is tighter than a gnat’s
you what. Rottweilers masquerading as PR girls are on the desks where
you have to ‘register’ and provide practically your entire life history
in order to get in for a quick canapé and a gawp at Penelope Cruz.
My friend and I managed to get into a few, including Elton John’s bash
(dull guests and sticky beer all over the floor – we left after 10
It was more entertaining to go outside and watch some very big
celebrities being refused entry to the Vanity Fair party because they
could not convince the PR dragons at the door that they really were who
they claimed to be!
By this stage the night gets even more star studded, so much so that you
find yourself getting blasé. Television stars, supermodels? Pah! Who
cares. Where are the bona fide movie stars?
And boy do they come at you from all angles as they skip from the
Governor’s ball to the Vanity Fair bash to the triumphant studio
This is the best part of the night. You can either strike it lucky and
meet a chatty A lister or end up with the desperate, stick thin, cookie
cutter blonde ‘actress’ who tells you with a huge smile that people
can’t believe she’s done so much and is still only 26. I mostly couldn’t
believe it either. I would have bet my life savings that said 26 year
old was at least 47.
Largely though, I struck lucky. I ended up sharing travel tips with
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty and chatting about foot and mouth
disease with Dustin Hoffman ( it’s a long story)!
By 5am though it’s best to call it a day and head home as it becomes
clear that many of your new best friends have been indulging in illegal
substances. The conversations get more and more bizarre and some people
have difficulty standing up straight and focusing.
And, well, it’s best to leave before you start naming names!
All in all the Oscars live is the most surreal experience, I’ve had.
Ironically it seems much more real on television!