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The BBC's Tom Brook reports
"This year no one can predict who the Oscar will go to"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 March, 2000, 11:34 GMT
Oscars count begins - at last
The past week has seen attention on the Oscars themselves
Voting for the 2000 Oscars closed on Thursday - two days late after most of the original Academy Awards ballot forms got lost in the post.

All the voting papers from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 5,607 voting members had to arrive at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers by 2200 GMT.

The original deadline was Tuesday - but it was extended after they were mistakenly sent to a bulk-mail facility.

The missing ballots were eventually found, but the Academy had already sent out replacement forms.

Robert Reheme
Academy president Robert Rehme with two recovered Oscars
It is the second mishap to hit the 2000 Oscars - earlier this week a haulage driver pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing 55 Oscar statuettes from a warehouse in California. All but three were found by a salvage worker in a rubbish bin.

Academy executive administrator Ric Robertson said the ballots had been returned at a faster rate than usual this year.

After the votes are in, the PricewaterhouseCoopers team will count them in a secure location. Just two partners - Greg Garrison and Lisa Pierozzi - will know the winners before Sunday.

The pair will seal the winners' names in two separate envelopes, and each will take a set to the Oscars under armed guard.

The envelopes will be handed to the presenters moments before they are announced.

Bleachers queue cleared

Meanwhile, an Oscar tradition came to an end on Tuesday when Los Angeles police cleared away fans queuing up days in advance to get good seats near the venue for the Academy Awards.

Life in the tents - but now tent-dwellers have been asked to move on
A queue of "tent people" had been steadily building up since the weekend outside the Shrine Auditorium - with barbecues, coolers, and even generators to power television sets.

At stake are 200 first-come, first-served seats in the "bleachers" - a grandstand erected for fans wanting to see nominees enter and leave the awards.

The seats are always in heavy demand, despite tight restrictions - once inside, fans cannot leave and re-enter their seats.

But this year, Los Angeles police have cleared the fans away. Sergeant Tony O'Brien said the encampment was blocking the path of students attending a nearby school.

But the fans did not go away empty-handed. The Academy issued them with vouchers for priority spots in the bleachers.

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See also:

22 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Oscar fever grips LA
22 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Oscar theft suspect charged
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Ask the Oscars expert
17 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
Academy Awards A-Z
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