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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006, 16:01 GMT
Oscar reported around the world
Jackie Finlay
BBC News Entertainment reporter in Los Angeles

Sandy Kenyon
Sandy Kenyon believes movie stars have a star quality all of their own

US reporter Sandy Kenyon is in his 19th year of covering the Oscars. This week he interviewed host Jon Stewart, and had a personal tour of the Kodak theatre from the show's producer Gil Cates.

He works a 15 or 16-hour day in the week running up to the Oscars ceremony.

Typically during this time he will get up at 1am local time for a TV spot at 2am on the East Coast, followed by a full day of interviews, filing for radio, TV and his website blog.

On Oscar night itself he appears live on radio and TV throughout the evening.

He is a long-term friend of Cates, who he met via work about 20 years ago. Now he says it is as if the show is produced by his uncle.

"Being in the theatre with Gil is like being with the President, very intense security.


"What never gets old for me is actually being in the theatre because you get the sense there is a small army of people working to stage a show that will be the centre of attention for the world for those few hours.

"When you see these nominees backstage after they've won, it's great because their lives have changed. It's a very emotional time.

"That never gets old for me - there's a special glow that people have when they have just won, and people with that amount of charisma - it's joyous to be around them.

Diamonds

"I see the Oscars every year as a great chance to collect stories you'll be telling at dinner parties for the rest of your life.

"I remember seeing Cary Grant helping Sir Laurence Olivier in 1984. Grant and Olivier were exiting the most magnificent Bentley, and Grant was wearing dungarees with brown patches on the knees as he'd been gardening.

"He was helping Laurence Olivier into the rehearsal. That is the essence of Oscar.

"When you are on a red carpet, and put all the world's stars together in one place it's a supercharged atmosphere.

"I don't believe that anybody can be a movie star. I believe these people are special. I don't think there is undiscovered talent.

"You get a roomful of reality stars and put it against a green room of movie stars on Oscar night - tell me where you'd rather be.

"I once heard someone backstage on the phone saying 'Mum, I won!' The person on the other end obviously said 'I know'. The person then said - 'How did you know?' forgetting it was televised.

"I was working upstairs once and got caught up and couldn┐t get to my TV spot for the broadcast. I ran down the hall to a freight elevator and came in and tripped and landed on my behind.

"I looked up and there was Elizabeth Taylor wearing Richard Burton's diamonds. She simply inquired 'Sandy, where's the fire?'

"Charlize Theron, when she won, was even more beautiful in person. When someone like that is glowing, you don't have any doubt as to why they're a movie star.

Access

"Security has been intense since the first Gulf War - before that it was a lot more casual. The metal detectors came in with the first Gulf War.

"There are many more media outlets these days. When I started in the 1980s it was probably a quarter of the press contingent there is now.

"It's interesting backstage, the international flavour. The Koreans have a large contingent, the Japanese, the former Soviet block, the Aussies. It's like the United Nations. You really get a sense of how popular for better or worse entertainment is around the world.

"The Australians can broadcast live because of the time difference - it's mid-morning there. Someone will stand up when a winner comes in and says 'we're live to Sydney from backstage at the Oscars'.

"The press contingent has grown but the access to the stars has shrunk.

"The longer you do this, the better your access. In your rookie year it's a bit limited, but it gets better.

"Invariably someone will ask my wife Eileen does she ever go to the Oscars with Sandy and she says no, I'd never see him. We go away the day after the Oscars, to Mexico or somewhere.

"The other question often asked is are you having fun - it's enjoyable but not in the same way as you have fun on a Saturday afternoon."

Sandy Kenyon is a TV and radio reporter employed by PARADE magazine. He was CNN's senior entertainment correspondent for 10 years.




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