With hours to go before the 6 p.m. ET curtain-raising on the 69th annual Academy Awards ceremony, crews were finishing stage and scenery, while electricians fine-tuned the 450 computer-controlled moving spotlights.
Outside the Shrine Auditorium, near downtown Los Angeles, thousands of star-starved fans packed the bleachers surrounding the red carpet. "I slept on the concrete," said fan Kenan Jones, who spent two nights camped out on the spot. "It hurt bad, but it was worth it."
But another Oscar tradition ended before it began. Scott Kerman, an event crasher who's even written a book on the subject, was arrested Sunday trying to sneak into the auditorium. Kerman bragged earlier this month that he would find a way into the highly secured event. He's been booked on trespassing, with bail set at $250.
Meanwhile, in a downtown hotel this morning, Tonya Flynt Vega, daughter of Larry Flynt, spoke at a poorly attended press conference to protest the Oscar-nominated The People vs. Larry Flynt, based on her father's life. Vega, along with attorney/activist Gloria Allred and members of the National Organization for Women, blasted the film for its "distortions, omissions and lies." Hustler cartoons depicting incest, rape, mutilation, necrophilia and torture were displayed and an open letter read to Flynt.
Wendy Stock, one of the organizers, said the meeting was planned for the day "because we didn't want to make a scene" later this evening. However, clearly dismayed at the low turnout, Stock wasn't ruling out a protest outside the Oscars, adding, "We might have to do something outrageous."