After a very public squabble over security fears erupted this week between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and developers of a new entertainment complex on Hollywood Boulevard, it suddenly seemed possible the 2002 Academy Awards would take place back at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles and not at the new Kodak Theater--the site that was supposed to become the permanent Hollywood home to the Oscarcast beginning next March.
Late Friday, however, in a joint statement released by the Academy and developer TrizecHahn, Academy president Frank Pierson said the problems had been smoothed over.
"We have put in place arrangements to ensure the highest level of security and are delighted with the cooperation of TrizecHahn in that regard," Pierson said.
Added TrizecHahn honcho Lee Wagman: "We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with AMPAS, and this issue is of the utmost importance to both of us. We are extremely pleased that this issue has been addressed to their satisfaction."
No further details were announced, but presumably the Academy will be able to conduct preshow bomb sweeps in the 1.2 million square-foot theater complex (in addition to the new theater, the site at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue features several retail shops, a hotel and a giant ballroom). Earlier this week, the Academy claimed TrizecHahn had renegged on a promise to allow sweeps the day of the show.
The idea of keeping Tinseltown's A-listers safe and sound had become a big-time priority in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
While the two sides made nice on the security issue, there are some other, less pressing sticking points that must be worked out before the Academy says it will definitely commit to the new site, which is nearing completion.
The Academy wants to have a three-week window before the March 24 ceremony to prepare its red carpet walkway (presumably to transform the mall area into something more befitting the film industry's biggest night) and also wants TrizecHahn to make sure there's a place for satellite trucks and media vehicles to park on the day of the event. The Academy has set an October 15 deadline for the remaining concerns to be resolved.
According to Friday's press release, "discussions are continuing [and] both sides indicated that progress was being made." Said Wagman, "We are looking forward to working with AMPAS to bring the Academy Awards back to Hollywood."
The very first Oscars were handed out in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel, across the street from the new site. Over the past several years, however, the ceremony has alternated between the Shrine and another downtown L.A. venue, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
The 3,600-seat Kodak Theater was initially supposed to play host to the 2001 Oscarcast, which was supposed to open the venue last March. However, the Academy was forced to use the Shrine because developers weren't able to finish construction in time.