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banner Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 15:50 GMT
Diary: Awards excitement mounts
Last minute preparations make the Kodak Theater a hive of activity
Last minute preparations make the Kodak Theatre a hive of activity
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By BBC News Online's Darren Waters
line

The red carpet has been rolled down Hollywood boulevard, the bleachers erected and giant Oscar statues flank the entrance to the Kodak Theatre.

The Oscars have come home.

After years shuttling back and forth between the Shrine auditorium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown, faceless Los Angeles, the Academy Awards have returned to Hollywood.

The Kodak Theatre
The Oscars have a new home
The new venue for the Oscars has added an extra sense of excitement around this year's event, which is already at simmering point after a frenetic, frantic and sometimes bitter campaign by some of the nominees.

It is 40 years since the event was last in Hollywood but the party feeling is not extended to everyone.

Sharp-shooters

The academy is actively discouraging film fans wanting to get it on the homecoming from turning up on the day.

In fact, the whole area around the Kodak Theatre will be enclosed with a virtual ring of steel.

Police outside the Kodak Theatre
Security is high in the wake of 11 September

The reason, of course, is 9/11, as they call it here. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September have changed the face of almost every major event in the US since.

Roads will be closed, shops and attractions shut and more than 1,000 police officers will be on duty.

There are also reports in the papers of sharp-shooters on the roofs around the area.

"They'll see it much better on television," said John Pavik, spokesman for the Oscars.

Star gazers who used to queue for seats in the bleachers to watch the stars arrive have had to apply for tickets.

Only 500 have been selected and, of course, they have been vetted, just in case.

Envelopes

All the added security and precautions are unlikely to deter the stars, however, who are fully expected to turn out in force.

Stars' seats in the Kodak Theatre
The stars are allocated specific seats

All the nominees are expected to attend, possibly because no-one can be sure who will win.

The only two people in the world who know the answers are PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants Gregory Garrison and Rick Rosas.

They are the ones entrusted with counting the Oscar ballots and until the all-important envelopes are opened - it is their secret.

"When I first started doing this my kids and friends would joke around," said Garrison.

"But they know I'm not going to give them any hints or anything."

Their job is not just to count the slips and keep mum; they also have the important job of memorising the winners' names in case the envelopes were to go missing.

"Actually, at the end of the day, you're familiar enough with it then, that most of them you know," said Garrison.

The Oscars ceremony is broadcast live on BBC Two on Monday 25 March from 0045-0500 GMT and reported live on BBC News Online.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rose Millard
"What people are wearing is almost more important than what they are winning"
See also:

12 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
UK Oscar stars party on
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