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Fans Get Suntans--but No Stars In Their Eyes

March 31, 1987|JOHN VOLAND

At least those die-hard fans who waited on the prefabricated risers on the Music Center grounds for Oscar to show up, got some quality suntans during their 36-hour ordeal.

One other thing is certain. Those major stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and Dustin Hoffman--who were among the presenters for this 1987 edition of the Academy Awards-- didn't show up Monday night, at least as far as the fans out front were concerned.

As befits a year where the independent production was king and the megastar package deal was on the wane, the flashing-eyed arrivals walking up that red carpet were the recently famous and the veteran actors--and not the glory of Hollywood as proclaimed by the film archivist, the tabloid newspapers and the critics.

Davis, Taylor, Bacall and Hoffman were all on hand--inside the Pavilion, which they had entered on the quiet--to do their televised turns later in the evening, but they left it to the next generation, tonight's famous, to do the star turns out front.

Sometimes, in the sunset glow, the assembled nominees made you forget all that: Kathleen Turner's great star moves as she said hello to the throngs; Marlee Matlin's genuine surprise at being signed "wonderful!" by star-greeter Army Archerd and the fans, and "Platoon" writer-director Oliver Stone, reveling in what seemed to be his first big moment.

But these fans drank it all in, and deeply. Matlin was a crowd favorite, as was Turner and Matlin's co-star, William Hurt--who, when asked by Archerd what he had to say about "Children of a Lesser God," gestured toward the hearing-impaired Matlin and said: "She spoke for me too."

Past Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss, a presenter this year, waved his arms on the podium and asked the crowd, "Did you guys all vote this year?" And a visibly nervous Piper Laurie told Archerd, "This is getting easier each time (Laurie had been nominated twice previously); maybe the third time's the charm." (Unfortunately not, as she later lost out in the best supporting actress category to "Hannah and Her Sisters' " Dianne Wiest.)

The general lack of furs and the predominance of off-the-shoulder dresses reflected the summery, charmed weather the ceremony enjoyed this year. Edy Williams actually looked comfortable for once in her nothing-but-the-trademark fashion statement, and the fans responded in bikini tops (for the women) and shorts (for the men).

Earlier Monday, when the sun was blazing down on the harried technicians readying for the live broadcast, bustling television cameramen freely tossed decorum to the winds and were testing lights, getting color balances and hooking up power lines for the TV show in T-shirts.

"They should hold this out on the Santa Monica Pier on a day like this," an ABC cameraman said. "Have everyone show up in formal black swimwear . . . it'd be oh-so-Hollywood to boot."

Behind the technicians, the faithful were positioning themselves on the temporary grandstands for either a) the best view of the famous as they arrived; or b) the best angle for the dozens of cameras ready to record the event for posterity.

A detachment of activists for the homeless had camped out since Sunday evening to make sure that their message--"Bring justice from the stars to the homeless"--would be picked up by the TV cameras.

"We're doing all we can to prevent the American people from forgetting about us," declared one homeless person, who said to call him Jackie. "Maybe when America sees the stars in all their expensive clothes and limousines, and then the cameras follow them to where we're sitting, they'll think about it some."

There were largish factions for each of the nominated actors and actresses, though Paul Newman's was the most vocal and outrageously dressed (or, rather, undressed). A trio of pretty redheads held aloft a "Bill (actor William Hurt) is OUR MAN!" sign, while a spirited group of young married people sat behind a poster that read, "Oral Roberts for Best Actor, for his portrayal as a Man of God."

"We think they should open up the Oscars a little bit," said Joe McCormack, a member of the ad-hoc Roberts Oscar Committee. "Although maybe, on reflection, he should be up for an Emmy, not an Oscar. Still, it's the thought that counts."

At least one fan was disgusted with the academy's presentation of the Irving Thalberg Award to producer-director Steven Spielberg. Andy Carmine said the award, usually given to a producer for a large body of work, was "just a way to make sure (Spielberg) keeps making those big-buck movies.

"It's really a chicken thing for them to do, after the way they snubbed him last year (for 'The Color Purple')," Carmine continued. "Besides, the movies he just produced haven't done all that well, compared to the movies he's directed."

But such general upset was quickly dissipated by the Olympian loveliness of the day. As beach balls bounced among the fans, the omnipresent security enforcers nudged each other and smiled.

"Tough gig, huh?" muttered one to another, undoing a button on his blue uniform.

"Seen tougher," replied his colleague.

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