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COVER STORY

And the Winner Is--YOU

The Oscars are here, and you can see the stars, crash a party or attend a documentary screening. But remember, your couch is the best seat in town.

March 23, 2000|KATHLEEN CRAUGHWELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Academy Award nominees Angelina, Chloe, Hilary and Annette are already booked this weekend. They've got the Friday night pre-Oscar parties, the last-minute dress fittings, television interviews, Saturday afternoon pre-Oscar parties, stylist appointments, Saturday evening pre-Oscar parties, hair appointments and more, all before that Sunday afternoon stroll down the red carpet.

But what about rest of us who aren't lucky enough to be one of the 5,500 people who'll be watching from their seats inside the Shrine Auditorium? Can regular Angelenos partake in any of the Oscar derby fun? Certainly. Whether you want to see real, live movie stars, Academy Award-nominated documentaries or just watch the big awards with other fun folks, there's something for almost everyone this weekend.

I Wanna See Stars!

For some movie fans, there's no substitute for getting bleacher seats alongside the red carpet and watching the ultimate celebrity fashion show in person. This year, in addition to all the nominees, expect to see presenters Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Fonda, Cameron Diaz, Chow Yun-Fat, Drew Barrymore, Salma Hayek and Keanu Reeves. If you plan on getting a seat in the bleachers outside the Shrine Auditorium, here are some guidelines from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Get to the Shrine as early as possible on Sunday morning because there is a limited amount of space in the bleachers (there's room for several hundred people although representatives from the academy declined to give a more specific estimate) and admittance is on a first-come, first-admitted basis. The academy discourages camping out in advance, and the Los Angeles Police Department has been strictly enforcing the no-camping policy on Shrine-adjacent property. However, certain items cannot be brought into the bleacher area--sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and ice chests--so if you do plan on flouting the no-camping rules, have a place to stash your stuff. Also banned from the stands: alcoholic beverages, professional camera equipment including tripods, posters, flags or banners, portable televisions, stereos and of course any type of weapon.

You should bring a picture identification card (minors are exempt from this rule but must be accompanied by an adult guardian), a sack lunch and bottled water. Once admitted to the bleacher area, guests cannot leave and come back (the exception being to visit restroom facilities within the specified area) or save seats for friends who have not yet arrived. There will be wheelchair-accessible ramps and platforms, and admittance to this area is also first-come, first-admitted.

Academy security will start letting people into the bleachers on Sunday at 6 a.m. Those who don't make it into the stands can line Jefferson and Figueroa boulevards, but because most of the celebrities will arrive in limousines with darkened windows, don't expect tosee too much. The actual awards begin at 5:30 p.m., so celebrity arrivals will be from about 4:30 to 5:25 p.m.

*

Whew, so many rules. Don't worry, there are other less rigid ways to see the stars.

The Independent Spirit Awards of the Independent Feature Project/West, a more loosely structured event, takes place on the beach in Santa Monica the day before the Oscars. This year arrivals start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and you can expect to see many of the same directors and stars who will be at the Academy Awards the next day.

Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Spike Jonze, Kimberly Peirce, Janet McTeer, Chloe Sevigny, Catherine Keener, Holly Hunter, Jennifer Tilly and Kevin Smith are among the stars scheduled to attend. Just look for the big white tent on the beach just south of the Santa Monica Pier and line up behind the barricades. And if you miss arrivals to the Spirit Awards (which will be broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel and its Web site, http://www.ifctvc.com), you can catch stars as they leave (between 3:30 and 4 p.m.) when they head to either the IFC "Boys Don't Cry" party at Shutters on the Beach Hotel or the annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts tea at the Loews hotel.

Another place to watch for movie stars and other random celebrities (remember Monica Lewinsky last year?) is on Melrose Avenue between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards after the Academy Awards. This spot is the junction of two of the most exclusive post-Oscar parties: the Vanity Fair party at Morton's and the InStyle/Elton John AIDS Foundation party at the former Pagani restaurant, and it makes for great star sighting because there's a veritable celebrity conga line back and forth between the two parties.

Gimme Cult-cha or Documentaries and Exhibits

OK, not everyone cares about what Gwyneth is going to wear this year or who's going to escort Madonna to Morton's. If you're more interested in cinema culture than celebrity sightings, read on.

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