Monday, February 25, 2013

Countdown to the Oscars red tape


 Countdown to the Oscars red carpet of red tape


This story first appeared on

When everyone was eating their Thanksgiving dinner last year and people where shopping until they dropped on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the press were obtaining press credentials to cover the The 85th Oscar Awards in Hollywood, CA.

“Sorry, if you did not register in November, you’re out of luck,” the publicity representative told this writer during an inquiry two weeks ago. “If you haven’t registered by now, you can’t.”

But, after reading all the requirements and what the press has to do to check in, It’s obvious why editors of entertainment and film publications prefer to cover the Oscars form the newsroom. Anxious writers, reporters and freelancers, who have never covered the event before line up for hours just to get press credentials. But wait, there’s more.

Here’s the 411 on Press Credentials and it’s not pretty. In fact, if you cover it for the first time, it’s a lot of work, headache and pressure just to get.

Now this writer only requested to shoot pictures of arrivals of celebrity on the red carpet. And since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said “No”, I will not be writing a story for the,, YAHOO! or If you take just alone, that’s 100 million subscribers in the USA, and 350 million in Europe, alone.

But if I would have received the green light for press credentials here’s what the press has to got through to get from A-to-B on the red carpet to snap a few photos and leave.

“Oscars Setup Credentials provide legitimate media with limited access to the set-up and preparation activities taking place in and around the Hollywood & Highland Center and the Dolby™ Theatre from Monday, February 18th through Sunday, February 24th at 11 a.m. (prior to Red Carpet arrivals)”

This writer doesn’t know anyone who enjoys going back and forth Monday through Friday to Hollywood to promote an event that is giving journalists 1.5 square feet in the bleachers to cover just the arrivals Oscar Sunday. What if you have to stretch, sneeze or accidentally trip and knock over everyone’s tripod or camera?

No thanks.The Academy should be paying the press for headaches.
To get a perspective, we asked someone who has done Oscar publicity for five decades about press credentials.

“The annual events have changed, and they've gotten so complicated, so commercial that it is all about the money,” said a long time publicist, who wished not to be identified. “In the good old days, the media would come on the day of the event, lined up, signed in and got their press credentials and a pass to cover the entire event and after parties, that's it," he said.

My, have things changed. According to the rules and regulations:

Not only do you have to go to Loews Hotel in Santa Monica to pickup your pass M-F before Oscar Sunday, but you also have until 11 AM Saturday to do, it.

Day of Show Credentials provide access to specific restricted areas after 11 a.m. on Oscar Sunday, February, 24, 2013. Day of Show Credential holders have the same access as Oscars Setup Credentials during the days prior to the Oscars ceremony.

It gets better. The arrivals, a pool feed tent, where you can hookup to the Academy’s TV feed, a “Photo Room” and “Interview Room”, but no pictures or cell photos can be taken before the show airs. (death invalidates the warranty).
 You have to sign all of this stating you will abide by the rules and they can invalidate your pass at any time if someone from the academy catches you slipping from one room to another.

It would be some writer’s luck they would get busted for trying to go to the restroom and get nailed by security accusing them of try to sneak into the interview room with only photoroom credentials. Oh, that would be shame, huh? And heaven forbid that you get caught mingling two hours after the telecast when the rooms close.

Security will throw you out unless you are one of, “those assigned to one of the Data Transmission Rooms, who will be issued credentials with access to the Press Rooms level of the Loews Hollywood Hotel and assigned a seat in one of the data transmission rooms.”

Now, if things aren't complicated enough just trying to score a photo or interview, you’ve got to sign in and sign out before you make your next move and don’t forget your escort. For example:

"INDIVIDUALS WITH OSCARS SETUP CREDENTIALS REPRESENTING AN OUTLET ASSIGNED TO THAT AREA will be required to sign-in and sign-out with the Press Guide escort assigned to that room during set-up times. Individuals with interview room credentials will have access to this press room during the following times:

Friday, February 23 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, February 24 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, February 25 – 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Individuals with photo room* credentials will have access to this press room during the following times: Saturday, February 23 – 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, February 24 – 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

"Only credentialed individuals representing outlets with assigned positions in the photo and interview rooms will be allowed to access during set-up periods. Press Guide escorts will be positioned by the security check-in at the entrance to the Press Rooms level of the Loews Hollywood Hotel."

Are you lost yet? Me, too. Remember, this writer only requested to cover the arrivals and leave. But now from all indications, the best seat to cover the Oscars appears to be right in front of the TV in the office or on the couch at home. At least you can take break, stretch beyond the 1.5 feet allotted and go to the restroom without getting thrown out of the show.

It’s hard to believe that this 85 year old tradition has become so commercial, so complicated, basic requests like media coverage has become so over the top. The media understand challenges of security. But what ever happened to common sense?

I remember covering the President's visit to the JPL lab, Pasadena, CA as a radio news reporter a few years ago and yes, security was a challenge, but you only signed in one time and no escorts needed. You did not need an escort to go anywhere.

The money the Academy is spending just to enforce all the rules and manned the sites on location and escorts could pay for a nice catering truck in the parking lot for the media waiting those long hours in the press credential pickup lines. For a complete list of the Oscar

Nominees visit:

For preview of nominess vist:

So instead having Thanksgiving dinner this year, I might have to sacrifice one tradition for another. The Oscar goes to a big turkey this year as the show must go on.

85th Academy Awards Nominees, February 24th, 2013
Best Picture:Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Best Actor in a Leading Role:Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington
Best Actress in a Leading Role:Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Naomi Watts, Quvenzhané Wallis
Best Director:Amour (Michael Haneke), Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin), Life of Pi (Ang Lee), Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell), Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)

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