Seeing Stars: Hollywood Award Ceremonies

The Dolby Theatre
at the Hollywood & Highland center
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA.
(310) 247-3000 (the Academy) or (323) 308-6383 (the Kodak)

[ Click here to see a list of all the 2016 Oscar winners & nominees. ]

[ Click here to see a list of 2015's Oscar winners & nominees. ]

The most important annual celebrity event in Show Biz takes place late each winter (usually in late February or early March), right here in Los Angeles. It's Oscar Night, that dazzling evening when the prestigious Academy Awards are presented for the year's best achievements in motion pictures.

And if you act early enough, it's possible for you to be on the red carpet, watching the celebrity arrivals (see the details below).

The 88th annual Academy Awards were presented on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre), at Hollywood & Highland.

The host was Chris Rock.

Presenters/performers included Cate Blanchett, Steve Carell, Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Garner, Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Hart, Lady Gaga, Eddie Redmayne, Daisy Ridley, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and many others.

Last year, the awards were presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015, and the host was Neil Patrick Harris.

Oscar presenters in 2015 included Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Viola Davis, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Murphy, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Meryl Streep, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, among others.

Performers on the show included Lady Gaga, John Legend, Adam Levine & Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Jack Black and Jennifer Hudson

In 2014,  the awards were presented on Sunday, March 2, 2014, and the host was Ellen DeGeneres.

Oscar presenters that year included Emma Watson, John Travolta, Charlize Theron, Barbra Streisand, Kevin Spacey, Will Smith, Sidney Poitier, Brad Pitt, Bill Murray, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Goldie Hawn, Anne Hathaway, Whoopi Goldberg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Harrison Ford, Sally Field, Robert De Niro, Daniel Day Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Penelope Cruz, Jim Carrey, Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell, and Amy Adams.

In 2013, the 85th Academy Awards were presented on Sunday, February 24, 2013.
The host was Seth MacFarlane.

Presenters included Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr.,  Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Liam Neeson, Kristen Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe, Jennifer Aniston, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, , Melissa McCarthy, Paul Rudd, Salma Hayek,  John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence,  Mark Wahlberg, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Renée Zellweger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron.

Performers included Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Adele, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham, Dame Shirley Bassey, Norah Jones and Barbra Streisand.

Other recent hosts included Billy Crystal
(2012), James Franco & Anne Hathaway (2011), Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin (2010), Hugh Jackman (2009) and Jon Stewart (2008).

And then there are the Oscar winners & nominees, of course...

The past hosts (Masters of Ceremony) alone, over the decades,  represent a virtual "Who's Who" of Hollywood, including Lionel Barrymore, Will Rogers, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Jimmy Stewart, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Jack Lemmon, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Frank Sinatra, Helen Hayes, Sammy Davis Jr., Carol Burnett, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Diana Ross, Gene Kelly, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson - and more recently, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman.

And naturally, the biggest stars in Hollywood are there in hopes of bringing home one of the golden statuettes.

On Oscar night, giant, golden, 24-foot-high Oscar statues loom outside the Dolby Theatre (formerly named the Kodak Theatre) and for one day the eyes of the world focus on Hollywood.

The event has been televised live since 1953, and while the Superbowl draws larger numbers here in the States, the Academy believes the Oscar show to be "the most-watched television show in the world annually," as people all over the world tune in to watch the ceremony on TV from the comfort of their homes.

If you're in L.A., you can experience at least part of the Hollywood excitement and glamor in person.

Of course, you've got to be willing to pay the price... and we're not talking about money here. It's unlikely that any amount of cash could get you into the Academy Awards show. But if you enter your name and are lucky enough to win a free Oscars drawing, and if you're willing to wait long enough before the show, you can be among those lucky few in the bleachers outside the Kodak Theatre who get to watch the celebrities as they arrive in their limousines and walk up the red carpet into the auditorium.

Large grandstands are set up nearby to allow spectators a view of the stars, as they exit their limousines curbside and walk to the auditorium. The stars make their way up the red carpet, running the gauntlet of photographers, and stopping to give interviews to the horde of TV news crews and entertainment reporters, before entering the Kodak. It's a great opportunity to see (and take photos of) your favorite superstars, since virtually everyone who is anyone in Hollywood comes to the Academy Awards show. But there are only 700 bleacher seats, and far more fans who want to be there. So, they have an online random drawing.  (See below for details about how to get in on the drawing for the red carpet bleacher seats.)

Unless you're an Academy member, your chances of actually getting inside to actually see the awards show are virtually zero. (In 1996, two people spent big bucks on scalped tickets to the Oscars, and made the headlines - when they were thrown out of the ceremony. Tickets are non-transferable..)

Fortunately, the bleachers outside, with a view of the red carpet, are free to the public.The problem is getting them, since numbers are very limited.

In previous years, fans had to camp out on the streets for days in advance, in order to secure a spot in the bleachers - which were then first come-first serve. However, two things happened to change the situation in 2002: one was Oscar's move from the Shrine Auditorium to the Kodak Theatre. The other was the reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

It would be a lot more difficult for fans to camp out on the busy city streets near Hollywood & Highland, and with new security concerns, the organizers wanted to pre-screen every fan who came into the bleachers. So, they came up with an entirely new system. For the first time, they gave away reserved seat tickets, guaranteeing a seat in the bleachers, with no need to wait in line.

But the down side is that there are only 700 seats available. So they now have a random drawing of all the applications received (so long as they are entered by the deadline).

Everyone now has an equal chance of getting bleacher seat tickets. Mind you, those chances aren't very good (about one out of 12, last time I checked), but at least you now have the same shot as everyone else.  But you need to act early on, since the applications for the February Oscars show must be submitted by November.

Click on the link below for full details about how to sign up for the 2015/2016 bleacher seats.


They now use an online-only (Internet) registration system to give away the free tickets.
And you only have a very brief window of opportunity in which to register.

Online registration for the 2016 Oscars show
begins on Thursday, November 5, 2015, at 11 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time)
and closes at 5 p.m. (PDT) on Thursday, November 19, 2015.

You have to go to
and sign up
before the close on November 19.  (Winners will be notified around December 9.)

To read the official rules, go to

Warning: If you don't have tickets, you're better off not coming here in person.

As the years pass, security around the Oscar show has gotten more & more restrictive.

In 2011, they sealed off the entire block of Hollywood Blvd (west of Highland), and fans who showed up hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars, were held behind with a tall chain link fence on the east side of Highland. (The only bright spot was George Clooney, who had the grace to walk over to that fence and greet his fans.)

It got worse in 2012, when they moved that fence a block east, to McCadden Place, where there is basically nothing to see at all.  So, don't bother coming that night if you don't have reservations for the bleacher seats.

Instead of going there on Oscar night, when you will never even get close to the Dolby theatre, come a few days before Oscar Night, and you can watch them setting up the giant golden Oscar statues, and rolling out the red carpet.  There are even tours of the Dolby Theatre on some days.  But on Oscar Night itself, they won't let you near the place.

As for the show itself, the first movie stars start usually arriving at around 4 PM, a few as early as 3:30 PM (when the sun is still shining) for this black tie affair, but most of the celebs show up after 4:30 PM. By 5:30 PM, the stars are all inside and the show begins. The police block off the surrounding streets, and the stars say that just traveling the few blocks from the freeway to the auditorium can take an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

A little Oscar history:

The very first Oscars were handed out at a dinner held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

For the next 14 years (1929-1943), the ceremonies alternated between the Biltmore Hotel and the Ambassador Hotel's Coconut Grove, where the awards ceremonies included a banquet for the stars.

The banquet part was dropped after 1944, when the awards ceremony moved to Grauman's Chinese Theatre (1944-1946). Then, for two years the show was held at the Shrine Auditorium (1947-1948). In the 1950's, the Oscar ceremonies settled down to the Pantages Theatre, where they remained until 1960. Then, from 1961 to 1968, the ceremony moved to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Finally, in 1969, the Oscars found what appeared to be a semi-permanent home downtown at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles Music Center, where the ceremonies were held for most of the '70s and '80s. In the mid-90's they began to alternate between the Music Center and the far larger Shrine Auditorium.

Finally, in 2002, a new, permanent home for the Oscars was built, and it returned the Oscars to downtown Hollywood, where they had started.

TrizecHahn Corp. built a massive $600 million project called 'Hollywood & Highland' on Hollywood Blvd., next to Grauman's Chinese Theatre, an outdoor mall filled with restaurants, boutiques and movie theatres. The center included a 3,300-seat state-of-the-art Kodak theatre which has now become the permanent home for the annual Academy Award ceremonies. Included in that project is a 30,000-square foot ballroom for the annual Governor's Ball (which follows the ceremony).

Custom designed to meet the Academy's needs, with camera positions built-in, the new venue was created to be the perfect location for the annual awards show. The theatre has since been renamed the Dolby Theatre (the Kodak company went bankrupt in 2012). During the rest of the year, the building is home to concerts and live theatre.

Fittingly, the Oscars' new home is right across the street from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the site where the very first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929.

Click here to read more Oscar Trivia.

Click here for a list of 2014 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2013 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2012 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2012 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2011 Oscar winners & nominees.

Click here for a list of 2010 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2009 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2007 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2006 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2005 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2004 Oscar winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2003 Oscar  winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2002 Oscar  winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2001 Oscar  winners & nominees.
Click here for a list of 2000 Oscar  winners & nominees.

For more information about this year's event, call the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science at (310) 278-8990 or (310) 247-3000.

[Also see the articles about the post-Oscar parties at Morton's, Spago Beverly Hills, and Maple Drive.]

 The DolbyTheatre is located in the new Hollywood & Highland center, in the heart of Hollywood, at the northwest corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave.

[For more information on this subject, you can access the Academy Awards' official websites at: or]

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Copyright © 2016-Gary Wayne
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This webpage is not associated with any business described in the article above, and does not constitute an
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