Sunday night, some 40 million people will have tuned in to the 84th Annual Academy Awards (you can find out who won by going to http://oscar.go.com/#). That’s roughly 12% of the US population and second only to the Super Bowl. In Hollywood, where many believe in the whole six-degrees-of-separation theory, that percentage of viewership goes way up. The nominees may be our neighbors. Our kids may go to the same school. We say “hi” to them at Starbucks. Detroit has cars, LA has film. It is part of our history. For 80 years audiences around the nation have been captivated by who will walk away with those little statuettes, but to us there’s a vested interest in the winners and the losers.
To those outside of LA, this might appear vain or shallow. The question is though, when was the last time we didn’t want to have a connection with a winner? Whether it’s a professional athlete, a popular politician or businessman like Bill Gates, we all like winners and we appreciate their story – and are honored in a sense, if we’ve been part of it somehow. The Academy Awards started in 1929; it’s a big part of Angelino history and embracing it kind of comes with the zip codes. But LA and Hollywood are not known for letting their heritage survive. It can be hard to find that very history that makes these cities famous.
Luckily, some of that history has been spared. Of the 10 different venues that have been used for the Academy Awards, most are still standing and are proud of their Hollywood connection. Most of these venues are not only available to visit, but get filmed on a regular basis, like the Biltmore that has a list of television and film credits a mile long and still displays huge old photos of Oscar ceremonies and attending guests. The venue list reads like this: Roosevelt Hotel, Biltmore, Ambassador Hotel, Grauman’s Chinese, Shrine Theater, Pantages, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the Academy Award Theater (only used for one year, oddly enough), and currently the Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland (though it may not say ‘Kodak’ much longer).
Over the decades, some things have changed, but some have stayed the same: speculating who will win, the red carpet, the beautiful gowns, and the spotlights spilling into the night sky. These lyrics in ‘Hollywood’ by the LA band, West Indian Girl, might sum that part up best: ‘In Hollywood the sky’s alive…’
To hear the song, you can find it on myspace: http://www.myspace.com/westindiangirl/music/songs#!/westindiangirl/music/albums/west-indian-girl-9638669
If you want to check out Academy history you can go to: http://oscar.go.com/oscar-history#?year=2011