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banner Monday, 14 January, 2002, 13:12 GMT
Swansong for Oscars string-puller
Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts and ex Benjamin Bratt will be kept apart
The man who makes vital decisions about who sits where at the Oscars ceremony is stepping down from his position after 24 years.

This year's Academy Awards show in March will be the last for Otto Spoerri, who retired as controller of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the end of 2001.

Mr Spoerri is a popular man during the run-up to the Oscars as stars ask for extra tickets for friends and relatives.

You don't want to see a sad face next to a happy face

Otto Spoerri

He claims to have heard every trick in the book as those in the industry try and get their hands on the hottest tickets in town.

One of his annual tasks is to arrange the seating positions of those nominated for awards.

The 68-year-old has a strict set of seating etiquette rules to follow, and not putting nominated actors next to each other is top of the list.

Awkward

"You don't want to see a sad face next to a happy face," Mr Spoerri said.


The boss promised me two tickets as long as I live

Otto Spoerri
There is also the responsibility not to put ex-partners near each other to prevent unnecessary awkwardness or tabloid fodder for the stars.

This year for instance there will be the job of separating Nicole Kidman from former husband Tom Cruise and his new love Penelope Cruz and keeping Julia Roberts away from Benjamin Bratt.

New controller Andrew Horn will take over Mr Spoerri's duties from 2003.

Mr Spoerri will be retiring to Zurich, Switzerland, but the glamour and the glitz of the Oscars will too much for him to resist and he promises to return to take up his seat.

"The boss promised me two tickets as long as I live," added Mr Spoerri.

"I'll have to make sure my successor puts me in a decent seat."

See also:

18 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Oscars back on BBC
02 Jan 02 | Film
Dame Judi tipped for Oscar
08 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
Whoopi returns as Oscar host
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Links to more Oscars 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Oscars 2002 stories