February 27th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
We're accustomed to covering the events, but attending them as spectators is a wholly different thing.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, a funny thing happened: Through an odd set of circumstances, we just happened to receive two unassigned tickets to the Academy Awards (not to mention the Governor's Ball!).
This turn of events didn't exempt us from pre-awards show work, but it did give us insight into the way the show runs from a different point of view:
For one thing, fighting the throngs to get inside is nothing after you've sat high atop the press bleachers, as Jennifer did.
Inside, lobbies on each of the five levels featured bars with free champagne. No wonder no one was in a hurry to go inside the theater, despite the constant entreaties from an unseen announcer.
We found our seats six rows up in the third mezzanine – a.k.a., the Everest Section. (No supplemental oxygen required, in this case.) That actually made the show more interesting, as we were surrounded by people with stakes in the less prolific categories.
To Jennifer’s right was a lovely couple whose son was up for best visual effects for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” When he didn’t win, we were sad for him and for his parents – random seating had given us a sudden stake in the outcome.
On David’s left was a group attached to the Pakistani documentary short “Saving Face” – and that did win, prompting an explosion of joy from the foursome. The woman next to David gratefully accepted a tissue, telling him, “This is so important for our country, especially right now.”
By the end of the show, there were empty seats all around our level, which amazed us. Was it possible to be so bored, blasé or jaded by the Academy Awards that you didn’t stick around to see the ending? Certainly not for us. And yet the most amazing part of the evening was still to come.
We rode the elevator to the top of Hollywood & Highland and were admitted to Hollywood’s biggest after party, the Governor's Ball. It was truly amazing: power players, stars, and newly-minted Oscar winners, statuettes in hand, downing more champagne and amazing appetizers. The food and drink never stopped coming, as an army of servers kept glasses and plates filled, and Wolfgang Puck endlessly circled the room, overseeing the feast.
Even more impressive was the entertainment. James Earl Jones introduced Tony Bennett, who performed a set. He was followed by Dave Koz, an amazing singer named Melanie Taylor, and phenomenal trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. All of this backed by a first-class band, performing on a circular, slowly rotating stage in the middle of the room.
That was our peek inside the Oscars show - if you've ever had the opportunity to attend, tell us your experience in the comments!
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