Kelowna woman soaks up Oscar glamour

Most people soak in the glitz and glamour of Oscar night from a cozy spot on their own couch.

For one Kelowna woman, however, the red carpet was all but unfurled under her nose, offering a front row view of a world few get to tread.

Theatre company head and local arts writer Bonnie Gratz last month saw an opportunity to see the inner workings of the Hollywood event.

“I had planned a trip to LA for the same time as the Oscars and I write an arts column…so I thought, ‘My goodness, I wonder if I can get press credentials?”she said from LA, Tuesday afternoon.

She poked about on the Internet for a bit, then realized her press connections would make her eligible for some access, so she crossed her fingers and sent in an application.

Approval did follow—a certain level of it, anyway.

Gratz was given a pass to access the set-up stage of the Oscars.

“I could be in the security areas and on the red carpet until noon the day of the show,” she said.

So she went to LA with a burgundy tea-length gown she had from an old opera and her family—who weren’t actually able to be on the red carpet—in tow.

Before getting up close and personal with Oscar, however, she had to pass through security checks that rivalled post-9/11 airport safety measures.

Concrete barricades and metal detectors were around the theatre. And she also had to be wary of her online presence.

Gratz was told that she couldn’t have any photos taken of her press credentials, as someone may snatch the image and fake their way in. If that happened, she’d never be able to go again.

Jumping through all the right hoops yet again, Gratz found herself on the red carpet Sunday.

None of the stars who attend the show are there during the pre-noon slot, but that didn’t mean there was nothing to do.

“I got to meet the theatre press contingent,” she said.

“There was so much press getting everything ready. Every nook and cranny of the red carpet is taken up by different news agencies trying to get their time with the stars.”

And when Gratz pulled back the curtain to see how the movie-media machine works, there was a lot more smoke and mirrors than she had expected.

“Some news organizations that had also only been given credentials for set-up would film things that weren’t true,” she said, noting the female correspondents were dressed as well as any of the stars.

One of those well-dressed correspondents who stood out in Gratz’s mind was a Brazilian TV host who she saw pre-taping on the red carpet.

“She said things like, ‘I knew all along Gravity would win for Best Picture,’” Gratz recalled, pointing out that it was actually 12 Years a Slave that won.

She also saw the hosts of eTalk doing the big finale of their programming, long before the show even started.

“They were there blowing kisses, at the end of the red carpet. It was not at all taped live,” she said.

As for how she used her credentials, Gratz said she took as many shots of the scene as possible.

She’ll soon write a column about her experience, too.

But, mostly, it was really a fact-finding mission for years to come.

Her goal is to attain a higher level of clearance for next year’s event, which may allow her to interview some of the attendees.

Even if she doesn’t, however, the experience is one worth repeating.

“It’s crazy and fun,” she said. “Some people were saying, it’s such a cutthroat kind of thing, but it’s not. The press was as star struck as anyone.

“All those people were pinching themselves, taking selfies. They were all generous and kind.”

If she’s going to change anything, though, it will be her outfit. A three-quarter length dress won’t do for Oscar run number two.

Expect to see Gratz pull out a full formal gown for next year—fingers crossed.

Gratz will be home Saturday, putting on the show the Astonishing Adventure of Awesome Girl and Radical Boy at the Black Box theatre. The show runs March 13 to 22.



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