Hey, Oscar, What's Up?
Forget about that little trophy show on Sunday night -- the real excitement with the Academy Awards is always in the pregame, the postgame, the sideshows. Some things to keep an eye on this year:
Red carpet detours? The L.A. Times reports that several Oscar presenters have been asked to arrive via an off-camera entrance this year. Why? After last year's TV audience hit an all-time low (32 million), the academy wants to draw eyeballs back to the awards show itself -- and not let viewers quench their who's-wearing-what thirst with the various red carpet run-up shows. Much hand-wringing in Hollywood over whether this will hurt the fashion and PR industries, which invest heavily in getting maximum exposure for their clothes and jewels on A-list bods.
Quieter after-parties? After a one-year hiatus owing to the writers' strike, the famous Vanity Fair party is back -- but smaller, cozier, greener. The magazine cut its guest list dramatically and, in deference to hard economic times, will recycle decorations from past years and serve comfort food like chicken potpie, which should make countless laid-off Americans feel better. Rival after-parties hosted by Elton John and Prince are expected to rock on in some form, too.
Income-generating opportunities: Got a good feeling about "Slumdog Millionaire"? Yeah, well, everyone does -- and online bookies are setting the odds so heavily in its favor that you don't stand to profit much by betting on it. More interesting possibilities lie in the Best Actress race -- Bodoglife.com, for example, puts Kate Winslet at 1-3, Anne Hathaway at 11-2, Meryl Streep at 4-1. (But consult our critics' predictions in Sunday Style & Arts before putting your money down.)
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