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Hollywood preps and preens for Academy Awards

March 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Hollywood visitors are excited to see all of the changes outside the Kodak Theatre as preparations get under way for Sunday's Oscars. But local commuters may not be as thrilled.Traffic at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue is normally congested, but now that preparations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards are under way traffic delays are a nightmare.

Visitors and locals may want to avoid Hollywood, between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive, now that it is completely shut down. The road closures will remain in effect for the next several days.

Tents and a fenced perimeter have already been set up around the Kodak Theatre. Workers started closing down the streets Monday at around 10 p.m. Barricades and road-closure signs were set up.

In the tents, giant Oscar statues are getting the equivalent of a spray tan so they can have that perfect golden color come Sunday evening.

Work being done for the big show requires a range of tools from heavy equipment to staples, but flowers require expertise of a different kind. Charisma Designs is once again providing the evening's floral art.

"Yellow is the strongest color this year. It's what we have the most of. After that, it's white and then red. Those are our three colors for the carpet," said Richard Salvaggio of Charisma Designs. "We're looking at about 70,000 flowers to 100,000. About 60 percent of that are roses."

Stands are now being brought in to accommodate the hundreds of members of the news and entertainment media from all around the world who will cover the Oscars.

Bleachers are even being set up for the lucky fans who will get a close-up look at the red carpet line-up. Visitors and even longtime residents say it is fun to see what it takes to get ready for the big show.

"I think it's amazing really to see the power that celebrities have to be able to have the roads shut off and stop all of the traffic days in advance," said Neil Richardson, a tourist from England. "I am actually quite impressed with how the whole thing pans out."

"Those of us who live here just want to stay in because the traffic is completely crazy," Jennifer Cherry, a Los Angeles resident. "So we just kind of stay in and watch it on TV."

"It is fantastic," said L.A. resident Zik Ukaeje. "It is everything Hollywood has to show. They are going to roll out the red carpet right here and crowds of people from all over the world are going to stand here and watch people walk in. This is what Hollywood is all about."

Meanwhile, there is a little controversy around one of this year's best-picture nominees, "The Hurt Locker." One of the film's producers, Nicolas Chartier, reportedly sent out e-mails urging Academy members to vote for his movie in the best-picture race and "not a $500 million film" - an obvious reference to close-competitor "Avatar."

That's a violation of Academy rules against disparaging other films. Chartier has apologized.

Chartier has been un-invited to attend the Sunday awards show.

With Oscar ballots due Tuesday, the controversy surrounding Chartier's actions may have little effect on the March 7 Academy Awards because most voters have already mailed in their ballots, said one Academy member.

Amy Powell contributed to this report.