Catering to those with a higher profile

Times Staff Writer

BIRDS do it, bees do it, even Oscar nominees do it and every year it shows, as one star or another walks the red carpet for two.

Six years ago, Annette Bening, up for best actress in "American Beauty" and minutes away from her due date, beat the bookmakers and made it through the entire show to see husband Warren Beatty accept the Thalberg. Three years later, Catherine Zeta-Jones hauled her nine-month belly up on stage to perform a duet with Queen Latifah before dissolving into a sea of hormonally charged tears after winning for best supporting actress in "Chicago."

This year's most famous nominated bump belongs to Rachel Weisz, up for best supporting actress for her role in "The Constant Gardener" and who, on March 5 -- Oscar Sunday -- will be seven months pregnant. As of the Golden Globes, Weisz was still wearing high heels and, of course, designer duds.

With every clothing line from high-end to the Gap catering to the gestation generation, pregnant stars have no problem finding glamorous gowns. Weisz wore Yves St. Laurent to the Globes and Rochas to the Screen Actors Guild awards; two years ago Marcia Gay Harden did her turn as the Oscar's red carpet Madonna in Badgley Mischka.

For "Capote" producer Caroline Baron, however, the issue is a bit more complicated. Her due date is March 16, but because of health issues she has been advised to deliver earlier, though how much earlier is still under discussion. So at the show, which she has vowed not to miss, she will either have just had a baby or be on the verge of delivering one.

"Or I guess I could have it that night," she said with a laugh. "But either way, it's hard to know what to wear."

Like Weisz, Baron is still wearing heels -- stilettos she bought five years ago when she was nominated for the Golden Globes. "I wear them down the red carpet and then take them off under the table," she said. "I have sandals but they make my ankles look so fat."

Maternity designer Liz Lange has gotten Baron through the season's seemingly limitless awards shows -- "I have a tube dress, a cocktail dress and a pantsuit," Baron said. "All black. In my condition, people are more forgiving when you show up in the same outfit over and over."

And Lange will get her through the Oscars, one way or another. "I have no idea what my body will look like," Baron said, adding: "But I can't complain. To be 44, pregnant and up for an Oscar is an embarrassment of riches."

Baron has already put a call in to the academy wondering how she would get a breast pump past security. But after 78 years in the business, the folks in charge of the show are used to accommodating people with all sorts of physical challenges. Including those who might need to get to the bathroom frequently and quickly.

"We are here to serve the nominees," says Louis J. Horvitz, the show's director. "When Annette Bening was pregnant, we had her up front and on an aisle. When Catherine Zeta-Jones was on stage singing and dancing, we had two paramedics in the wings."

There is a full medical staff on call at the Kodak Theatre from the time the crew begins setting up, he says, so if Baron or anyone else in the theater should go into labor during the show, there will be no need to ask if there's a doctor in the house.

"If we have to deliver a baby," Horvitz says, "we can deliver a baby. I'll just shoot around it."

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