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OSCARS 2000 | Arrivals

A View From the Bleachers

It's not the stars, but the fans who make the biggest impression on our correspondent. But what is with all those skinny actresses?

March 27, 2000|D.L. HUGHLEY | D.L. Hughley isn't just the star of ABC's "The Hughleys," he's also a former employee of the Los Angeles Times. That was eight years ago, when he worked in the circulation department in The Times' Ventura office. Sunday night, the comedian was working for The Times again, this time reflecting on the scene along the red carpet at the Shrine Auditorium

First off let me say, it was so hot I thought I saw the devil in short pants.

I'm a pretty jaded guy. I never thought I'd be moved by all the pomp and circumstance of the Academy Awards. But with all the energy and all the fans, it got infectious. So, what I decided to do was not sit with the press, but instead sit with the fans. What I found was people who had become friends because they camp out there--the only time they see each other is each year at the Oscars. Some were old and some were young. Some were from Chicago, some from L.A. and Orange County.

They had snacks that they'd brought from home and bottled water that they were sharing with each other. Usually I don't eat other people's food--I'm kind of paranoid--but I ate theirs.

They all had different Oscar favorites and had different reasons for being there. But they all were just fans of the movies and they just loved being there.


On the red carpet, I never saw so many skinny women. I was just glad it wasn't windy because there would've been people flying everywhere. These women were so skinny I wanted to break into "We Are the World." There were all kinds of medical technicians around, but I don't know why--if one of these women had fallen and hurt herself, there would've been no need for X-rays because you could just hold her up to the light.

But I did see a lot of beautiful women (no offense to my wife). Nancy O'Dell from "Access Hollywood" was one of the best-dressed women there. I saw Garcelle Beauvais from "The Jamie Foxx Show," who looked just striking.

I couldn't miss Erykah Badu of "The Cider House Rules" because she looked gorgeous. She had on a big hat that had to be two stories high. I thought two things: how beautiful she looked and, damn, I wouldn't want to be the one sitting behind her.

There were a lot of men, but to me they all looked like it was one big Nordstrom's piano player reunion. And if they didn't wear a tie, they kinda looked like hip priests. A couple of times I got fooled and almost made a confession.

Michael Clarke Duncan of "The Green Mile" was the biggest guy there, and I kept wondering how many sheep had to go naked to make his tuxedo. He was the Roberto Benigni of the red carpet, only he's too big to jump on anybody. I knew him when he was a bouncer, so it was great to see a guy who just believed and worked hard really enjoying his success.

"South Park's" Trey Parker was wearing Jennifer Lopez's dress. That was kind of scary. At first when I saw a hairy guy in a green dress I just thought I'd been in the heat too long.


My favorite actor was there: Denzel Washington, who stars in my favorite movie of the year, "The Hurricane." It's a prison movie and seemed to last 3 hours and 50 minutes. The movie was so long when I saw it I felt that I was doing time. I almost had his lawyer file an appeal for me.

I admit I never saw half of the nominated movies. Basically if nobody's shot, blown up or naked, then I didn't see it. If someone's getting blown up while they're naked, I'll definitely see that movie.

I saw the boy from "The Sixth Sense," who will forever be strange to me. It's like Linda Blair: You can't ever look at them the same.

Kevin Spacey came by. He's an extremely talented actor, but he is one scary dude. I think if he moved in next door, I'd put my house up for sale.

Samuel L. Jackson looked smooth in his purple jacket. I had an uncle who used to wear a coat like that, but he wasn't an actor. He drove a deuce and quarter and he would disappear for two to three days at a time, but this story ain't about that.

I saw Joan Rivers and Joan Rivers' daughter. I don't know her name but I know her job is being Joan Rivers' daughter. They were commenting on the dresses. I saw a couple of actresses (who shall remain nameless) spot Joan and then walk the other way, with a look of terror on their faces.

Daily Variety's Army Archerd was interviewing everyone. They say he has been doing that for about 50 years. I heard there was a sighting of a picture of him in Jesus' yearbook. You could see everybody wanted to talk with him, like nominee Chloe Sevigny of "Boys Don't Cry," who kept giggling like she couldn't believe she was there.

That's when I decided I wasn't so jaded, to see these stars at the pinnacle of their success.

I could see even Tom Cruise, there with Nicole Kidman, was enjoying being appreciated for his artistic endeavors as opposed to his box-office receipts.


Unlike Cruise, a lot of the stars were trying to be aloof. But the people who slept on the sidewalk, didn't get to shower and screamed till they were hoarse seemed to pick up the vibe from people like Michael Clarke Duncan.

There was a lady in the stands who said she never misses church and this was the first time she missed. She said the Lord would have to forgive her.

One guy told me he had been sick and depressed and talked about how he was so moved by "Music of the Heart" with Meryl Streep that it had changed his life. He became choked up when he saw Streep. Now, I never saw a movie that changed my life, but the movie "Scarface" changed my neighborhood's life.

Anyway, when that guy got choked up, it really opened my eyes. These people were rabid fans. The only place I'd ever seen a similar display was at a Raiders game, and then there was a lot of beer. But this is L.A. and we don't have football anymore. But we do have the Oscars, which all in all, is not a bad way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon.

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