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Oscar's kind of town, Chicago is

Academy AwardsEntertainmentMoviesMass MediaArts and Culture

IAM NOT EXACTLY sure when it occurred to me that Chicago ought to outbid Los Angeles to be the host city for the Oscars, as well as for the Olympics. I believe that it might have come to me in a daydream I had about how ravishing Helen Mirren or Beyonce would look on a red carpet in a mink or a parka.

Chicago could throw a very cool Academy Awards, given a chance, so give it some thought. We have red carpets — miles and miles of them. Unlike most of you who live in California, which is clean, here in the Midwest we have a real but almost pathological need to wipe our feet.

And what right does L.A. have to act as if actors and actresses do their acting no place else? Hollywood is no longer the motion picture capital of the world. Who films films in Hollywood anymore anyhow? The only thing being shot at Universal Studios these days is by a tourist from Iowa with a camcorder.

I can see Joan and Melissa Rivers now, cozying up to glamorous stars and starlets, frost blowing out of their mouths with every gushed compliment.

"Meryl, you look divine. Who are you wearing?"

"Uggs."

"Penelope, you are bee-utiful! Who designed your outfit?"

"Eddie Bauer."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could make a pretty penny, allowing other cities to submit bids for the Oscars ceremony. Think of the advantages Chicago offers:

It takes most of you in California longer to drive to and from the Kodak Theatre in that traffic of yours than it would to fly to O'Hare and back. Chicago is considerably easier to get to than most of your homes are. Just tell your Gulfstream's pilot to look for St. Louis, then hang a left.

We love movies here. We make movies here. Most of you have made or seen a movie made in Chicago, as well as the movies you have made that are supposed to be Chicago but shot in Toronto. I daresay most of you would adore spending Oscar night in Illinois, knowing that you will go home with a swag bag stocked with Polish sausage and ChapStick.

We're exceptionally good at dealing with weather. We will have an usher to brush the slush off of your tux or strapless gown and, of course, one of those really nice electric shoe buffers to clean the crud off your Jimmy Choos.

I can think of no downside to letting Chicago host your Oscars once in a while. OK, so maybe in February a drawback would be that if a Hilary Swank, say, ventured outdoors for a breath of fresh air with an Oscar in her hand, it would freeze to her palm. You know, like that kid from "A Christmas Story" whose tongue stuck to the playground pole.

And so what if the lips of a reporter from "Access Hollywood" would turn blue while waiting outside to interview some of you? Wouldn't a lot of actors like to see somebody from "Access Hollywood" cold and stiff?

Do not dismiss this notion out of hand. Chicago would treat you Academy members right. Oprah will give everybody in the audience a free car. Vince Vaughn will take you on a guided tour, just like in "The Break-Up." The four losers in each category will be given season tickets to Cubs games, where losers are always made to feel at home.

Best of all, we start our Oscars after dark here. You wouldn't have to put on your evening wear and climb into a limo at 3 p.m. So come on, come to the tinsel and glitz of the Midwest next time. When you win, the only agent you are going to need to thank is your travel agent.



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