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February 16, 2009

Oscar party, circa 1969


Sunday night, they're gonna party like it's 1969.

At least that's what we gleaned from a somewhat esoteric, mostly architectural story in the New York Times about the Biggest Movie Event of the Year.

Although everyone involved has been (and continues to be) short on specifics, the production designer for the 81st Annual Academy Awards has doled out some tidbits to the Paper of Record about low-slung chandeliers, to try to make the Kodak Theatre look nightclubby; blue substituting for red as the color du jour; and a bling-heavy curtain made of 92,000 Swarovski crystals.


David Rockwell, a set designer for such Broadway hits as "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Hairspray," also designed the Kodak itself, so he should know every inch of the place and intends, through props and seating, to "redefine the show's DNA." That'll start by radically changing the venue physically. 

He and the show's newbie producers, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, homed in on 1969's midcentury modern stage design as the set to emulate. They're trying for intimacy, some kind of spontaneity, a Roberto Benigni moment or two and scads of video screens.

Got it?

Says Rockwell:

"It's about celebration. We want to make it less a big, pretaped package and more a live show. In a way, the Oscars are like community theater on amazing steroids."

That clears it up, especially when we take into account the light show on the floor of the stage that will emulate Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, all-new seating arrangements and play-within-a-play story lines that will link the trophy presentations.

Sure, it all makes perfect sense now. You'll all be watching on Feb. 22, right?

Read the full story here.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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