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Dressing Up the Academy Awards Show

Times Staff Writer

Big, glitzy and nostalgic seem to be the catchwords for this year’s Oscars telecast, which was previewed Wednesday at L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

“Everything’s bigger than life,” said the show’s flamboyant producer Allan Carr. “It’ll be very much like a Broadway musical.”

The draperies alone, if sewn together, would cover one side of the Empire State Building, or so a press release boasts.

The length of the street in front of the Shrine Auditorium will be covered by a red carpet. “The second largest banner ever made” will hang outside the auditorium, welcoming celebrities to the 61st annual Academy Awards, where the stage will be flanked by 24-foot-tall gold-leaf Oscar statues. The ceremonies will be broadcast March 29 on ABC at 6 p.m. PST.

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Once inside the auditorium, with its 6 million flowers, viewers will be treated to 11 sets-constructed by more than 100 craftsmen. One set will feature a re-creation of the fabled Cocoanut Grove, complete with a roomful of Cocoa Palms, neon signs and 200-foot curtains adorned with 50,000 beads and sequins.

Also bedecked with beads and sequins will be the presenters, whose Oscar garb will be matched to the sets this year. Presenters include Jimmy Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, Doris Day, Alice Faye, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.

As he unveiled three of the gowns to be worn by presenters and described the lavish sets it has taken three months to assemble, Carr said he hopes this year’s show will mark a revival of the glamorous Hollywood of the ‘20s and 30s.

“The Oscars are about achievement and about stars and glamour,” Carr said.

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The publicity surrounding the show is a significant departure from previous years where an atmosphere of secrecy surrounded the Oscars telecast.

Carr said he organized the “sneak preview” to tantalize viewers. His hope is to draw more viewers than in previous years, when ratings have slipped.

“This will be the year to watch it from beginning to end,” Carr said.


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