updated 02/26/2004 AT 1:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/25/2004 AT 1:00 PM ET
(All times Pacific. Latest item at the top.)
Friday, Feb. 27: Joan Gets Nasty with Diane
7 a.m.: Joan Rivers makes a shocking revelation to the Los Angeles Times, admitting that not all celebrities love talking to her on the red carpet. “Diane Keaton said no to me at the Golden Globes after I’d written a chapter for her stupid clown book for free. Maybe she was worried about the eczema on her hands. I don’t know.” Rivers also claims that she never rips into anybody “who’s not terribly famous.”
7 a.m.: The morning temperature is 40 degrees. So much for moving the Oscars up a month.
Thursday, Feb. 26: Blake Gets Props
7 p.m.: The Academy honors Lifetime Achievement Award winner-to-be Blake Edwards, who directed, among others, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther series and Victor/Victoria, starring his wife, Julie Andrews. A reception is held at the Hollywood & Highland complex.
5 p.m.: Bartenders are blending Best Picture-inspired drinks, thanks to a push by Bacardi Rums. These include the “Rough Seas” (for Master and Commander), comprised of Bacardi Limon, grapefruit juice and apple Schnapps; the “Chocolate Transition” (for Lost in Translation), a blend of Bacardi Vanilla, Godiva white liquor and Talea; and “My Precious Martini” (in honor of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,), created by bartender Mike Swan of Shelter and consisting of Bacardi O, orange juice and Red Bull. Miramax reputedly is ladling up the concoctions at its pre-Oscar bash.
4 p.m.: Tea at the Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel, where Jimmy Choo will pour and present gold stilettos or crystal-encrusted strap-ons. (Shoes, that is.)
3 p.m.: This year’s goodie bag will be awfully heavy to tote home. Included, besides tickets to a two-night penthouse package at Caesar’s Palace that includes four tickets to Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show and $9,000 in spending money at the hotel: a $6,000 state-of-the-art Samsung high-definition TV and Motorola’s new $350 V810 camera cell phone (for acting and directing nominees). Estee Lauder also is giving acting nominees the first-ever Manolo Blahnik suede-lined leather bag, stuffed with matching Blahnik suede sandals, a Hermes cashmere throw, a bottle of La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot champagne, Baccarat crystal earrings for the women and crystal lighters for the men. (Estimated total value: $10,000.) Victoria’s Secret sent each of the five Best Actress nominees a jeweled pink lace and satin bra and panty set worth an estimated $7,000. Hope no one tells the IRS.
2 p.m.: Other than being inside one, the best place to view arriving limos on Sunday night is Mel’s Drive-In (the American Graffiti-inspired restaurant chain, south of Hollywood Boulevard). There are four window tables that face the avenue, and the tuna melt isn’t bad.
12:30 p.m.: No. 1 topic of lunch conversation from the Ivy to Michael’s to Cantor’s deli: Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s recently unsealed, scathing 1996 letter to then-company president Michael Ovitz, telling him to quit. Journalists, in particular, focus on inflammatory portion that suggests Variety editor Peter Bart was (polite way of putting it) a little too cozy with Ovitz.
11 a.m.: The numbers: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has 6,570 members, of which 767 are “retired.” Of those, 5,803 are eligible to vote in the Academy Awards race. (The Kodak Theatre, meanwhile, has only 3,400 seats, and those get snapped up by presenters, nominees and their guests, with the remaining going to winning Academy members who participate in a ticket lottery.) In terms of who votes, there are 1,298 actors, 465 producers, 433 executives, 416 in the sound branch, 403 writers, 372 directors, 366 “members at large,” 366 art directors, 365 in public relations, 307 in the short films and feature animation division, 241 in music, 239 in visual effects, 222 film editors, 182 cinematographers and 128 documentarians. That’s an awful lot of executives.
10 a.m.: The Academy tells TV camera crews that they are welcome to use the red carpet arrivals area for pre-coverage and live stand-ups on Friday, but “it is vital that you NOT leave any equipment behind over the night of Friday to Saturday.” That’s because by Saturday the rains that have been plaguing the Southland all week are forecast to end, and the weather canopies over the red carpet can be lifted. “To facilitate this removal process,” the Academy dictates, “it is necessary for you to remove all of your equipment.”
9 a.m.: Though it is only three years old, the financially troubled Hollywood & Highland complex, which houses the Kodak Theatre and adjoining Renaissance Hotel (as well as a California Pizza Kitchen, other eateries and stores, and several shuttered retail spaces), is about to have a new owner. The firm of CIM paid only $200 million to buy the $400 million complex from original developer TrizecHahn, according to news reports. CIM is credited with bringing new life to Pasadena’s Old Town and Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. Maybe what Hollywood & Highland needs are rides.
8:30 a.m.: This morning’s Hollywood Reporter says that Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers are making diamonds available to contenders going to the Oscars. The baubles can be had (on loan) via private showings to stylists at the Van Cleef boutique in Beverly Hills or through housecalls. Talk about just what the doctor ordered.
8 a.m.: The flowers, hedges and prop Oscars are delivered to the 500-ft. red carpet, Hollywood Boulevard and Orchid Walk areas. Men who look more like Teamsters and less like floral arrangers start putting the pink roses and dusky red carnations in their place.
6 a.m.: Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Hollywood & Highland complex is shut down to street traffic through Sunday, thus creating gridlock on surrounding streets and preventing tourists from seeing Shirley Temple’s star on the sidewalk.
Check out PEOPLE.com’s complete coverage of the Oscars.
Wednesday, Feb. 25: The Governator Skips the Party
5 p.m.: Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes personal plans to attend Sunday’s ceremony and the Vanity Fair bash afterwards due to business in the state capital regarding Propositions 57 (a $15 billion debt-reduction bond measure) and 58 (which would require balanced budgets in the future). This means there will be room for one more Hummer in the Mortons parking lot.
4 p.m.: Oscar night database manager Amritz Lay restates the Academy’s ban on camera phones and camera PDAs in any of the press areas on Sunday night, be it on the red carpet or in the interview room. Cell phones will be allowed in the backstage press area only if they are on silent mode – or else they will be confiscated.
3 p.m.: Rain showers (that are expected to last until Friday) begin to pummel Southern California. Possible link to today’s opening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ explored.
1 p.m.: The backstage press walk-through at the Kodak Theatre takes place. Hundreds of journalists from all over the world learn their seat locations, where their DSL and dial-up lines will be, and, most importantly, where the sandwich table will be placed on Oscar night.
11 a.m.: The dry cleaners cannot promise to have my dress shirt laundered by the weekend, even after I desperately claim that I am getting married on Sunday. So I confess that I really need the garment for the Oscars. The shirt will be ready Friday.
10 a.m.: Oscar producer Joe Roth announces today’s addition to the roster of presenters: Adrien Brody, Pierce Brosnan, Scarlett Johnasson, Ian McKellen, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler and Starsky & Hutch stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.
9:30 a.m.: Though the traditional yardstick of Hollywood’s worst, the Razzies, aren’t due until this Saturday, the L.A.-based Bad Cinema Society has already announced the “winners” of its Stinkers awards. Running away with the dishonors were the much-maligned Gigli (five Stinkers, including those for leads Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) and the unfaithful screen adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (four, including worst film). McG, the hand behind Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, was singled out for “worst sense of direction.”
9:15 a.m.: Overheard in the breakfast crowd at Nate ‘n’ Al’s Deli in Beverly Hills (where Larry King holds court in a front booth): “Could someone kindly explain to me the difference between Bill Murray’s performance in Lost in Translation and what he did in Meatballs?”
9 a.m.: The 65-lb., 7 1/2-ft.-tall prop Oscars are delivered and the trees installed inside the 25,090-sq.-ft. Governors Ballroom in the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the traditional first post-Oscar party will take place Sunday night.
8 a.m.: A morning-drive radio deejay reveals Oscar host Billy Crystal’s good-luck charm: his childhood toothbrush, the one he used to hold in the bathroom and talk into, pretending it was a microphone. It will be in his tux pocket Oscar night.
7:30 a.m.: The red carpet outside the Kodak Theatre is due to be nailed down, or however it is attached to the pavement.
7 a.m.: Arrive Los Angeles Airport after a 13-hour flight from Sydney, Australia. So much for taking the long way ‘round from New York.