My trip to the Oscars 2.0

I had the tremendous opportunity to attend The Oscars again and like last year the experience was unforgettable, but for entirely different reasons. I literally went from teaching Middle School to Hollywood in just one day, not quite a Cinderella story since I am a middle aged actress who is more likely to be cast as The Stepmother than a princess, but for me it was as mind blowing as the original tale. (By the way, I did see the preview for the upcoming movie version of Cinderella while in Hollywood –it looks amazing.)

As I did last year, I went to The Oscars as press for Castanet and for the first time this year I was also a correspondent for The Doug and Lisa Show. This last minute development meant that I had to tape footage of my experience for broadcast on for the new cable show and now –yikes - consider my appearance and delivery. So with my capable crew of one; my husband Derek who is also a photographer, I launched headlong into Oscars 2.0.

Before I went I knew that there were a few things I wanted to do differently in 2015. First of all, I wanted to make sure I got most of my footage on the last couple of days when the red carpet was actually revealed - up until Friday the red carpet is covered by a thick sheet of plastic and all Oscars are encased in tombs of sheeting. Secondly, I knew I needed a better dress. Last year I assumed a cocktail dress would do, but really you need to dress up as much as the stars do if you want to look legit. Not that anyone was looking at me, with starlets and high profile entertainment reporters everywhere the likes of Robin Roberts, you might easily mistake the red carpet for the Miss World Competition, but I also have to admit that that this eclectic mix of hard core construction workers and beautiful anchors add to the energy of the event. The shared kismet of everyone pulling out all the stops to be ready for the most watched broadcast in the world is truly thrilling.

We stayed in the classic Hotel Roosevelt - built in the 1920s and still the epicenter of Hollywood history. Marilyn Monroe once lounged around this pool and lived there for two years. Apparently she still haunts the place along with Errol Flynn. My experience was less spooky and more spectacular as I was wowed by the gorgeous architecture and star guests including E! Hollywood (Ryan Seacrest) who filmed in the lobby and poolside. The very first Oscars were held in this building in a room now named "The Oscar Room" back in the 20s. The ceremony was brief at only 15 minutes long - definitely different than today's lengthy and must maligned broadcast.

The offsite activities I was able to participate in this year were as interesting to me as the red carpet experience. On the first night I was able to attend The Oscars Animated Feature evening, hosted by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Frozen). There I got insights into the creative process behind each of the nominated features and discovered a huge Canadian connection with Big Hero 6 (Chris Wiliams), How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois) and The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable). I have a personal interest in animation since husband Derek is an artist and son Brock hopes to pursue a career in Animation. I am also the Artistic Director of Kelowna Fan Xpo - a celebration of all of the arts including animation that will be in Kelowna on March 21. The most telling discussion of the evening came around the subject of raising the profile of these films amongst their peers-as animated films are the most viewed of any genre made and certainly the most profitable. Last year alone Frozen made over 800 million dollars from product sales alone, but if you have a child in your life this will be no surprise to you.

Another huge moment for me was being able to see The Academy's Hollywood Costume exhibit. There I saw the most famous original costumes from film – all on loan to The Academy just until March 2. High octane offerings included original Indiana Jones, Darth Vader, Spiderman, Batman and Terminator (Arnold is actually not that big a guy!) while classics like the dresses from Pretty Woman, Moulin Rouge, Titanic, Chicago were every bit as glitzy in person. Up close you could see time's wear was showing on Charlie Chaplin's costume and Marilyn's iconic white dress as well as the most prized item in the collection – Dorothy's original ruby slippers which were just white shoes dyed red with sequins sewn on. The common denominator throughout these curated masterpieces was that the actors are really tiny and the costumes really do add tremendously to the production and development of character. To see Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow costume in person you see how important is was to Depp's iconic character. I even got a visit in with Edith Head's many Oscars. What a collection!

I must admit I do have a particular problem with giving awards to artists; I don't believe art is a competition and I don’t think you can compare different films and performances and come up with a "winner". However I believe The Oscars has a purpose-to raise the profile of films-of all kinds- in public discourse. Sometimes it may be through crass marketing or it may be through educational opportunities like I had at the exhibit or animation evening. It is too easy to be an armchair critic and boil down The Academy Awards to a popularity contest and pageant for the rich and powerful in the entertainment industry from afar. What it actually is that but a lot more. It is also a celebration of film as an art form and a party for those who have in the film industry of every discipline. From the guys who set up the stage on the red carpet every year, to the rehearsal actors who stand in for big names like Oprah while they work out the kinks in the show, it is a creative machine that flies into motion and highlights all of the reasons why we should support film and go out see one –on the big screen-soon. It still holds a lot of cachet.

So I encourage you to check out one of the nominated films-of all genres- or performances this spring. You will be glad you did. For footage of my red carpet adventures, I invite you to check out The Doug and Lisa Show.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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