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Oscars’ new, smaller Hollywood home means some people aren’t getting inside

By Anthony Breznican, The Associated Press
Saturday March 23, 2002

LOS ANGELES — The Oscars’ new home is smaller than last year’s digs, leaving more people who wanted to attend the Academy Awards ceremony without seats this year. 

The Kodak Theatre is also television-friendly, its architect says, with a vertical design that includes room for TV-camera movement. 

“The theater is designed to look good from 365 degrees, because many of the shots are reaction shots from the audience,” said architect David Rockwell. “And we wanted it to be intimate enough so that there is a real connection between the audience and performers.” 

Hundreds of seating requests — including about 300 from academy members — were refused for Sunday’s show, said Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

The 3,100-seat theater has about 900 fewer seats than last year’s Shrine Auditorium. 

“In general, people have been understanding about the crush of requests, but there are always a few who can’t understand why you can’t produce six extra tickets just for them,” Davis said. 

Tickets were guaranteed for nominees, studios, and honored guests such as the governor and mayor. Also guaranteed seats were academy officers, and sponsors who purchased 30-second commercials on the ABC telecast. 

After that, a lottery was held for interested academy members. 

“Those who fail at the lottery get a priority for the following year,” Davis said. “It’s as fair as we can make it.” 

The Kodak Theatre is actually larger than the 2,700-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown, which was the show’s site 25 times. 

The theatre is next to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where the awards were held three times during the 1940s, and less than a block from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first Oscars were presented in 1929. 

Sunday’s ceremony will be the first major event at the Kodak complex, part of a $615 million redevelopment project designed to revive Hollywood’s downtown.