Academy abandons red carpet

Subdued Oscars planned in anticipation of war

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

— One of the Academy Awards' signature scenes and a worldwide pop culture spectacle -- the arrival of celebrities along the red carpet -- will be eliminated at this year's show over concerns that it would be unseemly display for a nation on the brink of war, Oscar organizers said Tuesday.

At the same time, while there currently are no plans to postpone the ceremony on Sunday, the Academy has begun looking at options for delaying the show, including looking for other venues if the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood is no longer available.

Saying they had been inundated by calls from celebrities asking to bypass the paparazzi-jammed arrivals area, Academy organizers opted to roll up the red carpet for the first time in the award show's 75-year-history.

"The Academy is mindful of its celebrity guests would feel uncomfortable arriving at this year's awards at the beginning of a major war to face a business-as-usual phalanx of interviewers and photographers," said Gil Cates, who is producing this year's broadcast.

Although Cates and Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Frank Pierson said in a news conference that there were no plans to postpone the broadcast, senior academy officials have begun to consider options for delaying the show, which is broadcast live starting at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.

Pierson said it would be "useless speculation" to discuss whether the Oscars will be postponed before a war has actually begun. He did say that if combat were under way there would be a greater likelihood of the show not going on as scheduled.