by Mark Rabinowitz
"Today is truly an historic day. It's the beginning of a grand
homecoming for the Academy and the Academy Awards. If I could sing and
dance, I'd do what Stanley Donen did on the Oscars last week, but I'd
sing and dance to the tune of "'Hooray For Hollywood.'"
So said Robert Rehme, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences, on Thursday morning at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, site
of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, when he announced a major
change in both venue and schedule for future Academy Awards ceremonies.
As part of a $350 million development by TrizecHahn Corporation, the
Academy Awards will move into a long term home at a yet-to-be-named
theater in this complex to be built on the corner of Hollywood and
Highland boulevards. The facility is expected to be ready in time to
host the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001, and the Academy is saying
"good-bye" to its most recent two hosts by staging next year's ceremony
at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles Music Center and the
2000 ceremonies at the Shrine Auditorium.
In addition to the announcement of the new facilities, Academy President
Robert Rehme made an announcement that was sure to be music to the ears
of Los Angeles' commuters: the Oscar ceremony is moving to Sunday night
and will be billed as "Sunday Night at the Oscars."
The 136,000-square-foot theater itself is being built to have all the
infrastructure needed for any internationally televised live broadcasts,
and is designed to be flexible enough to incorporate future technical
advances. In addition, the seating capacity is flexible, ranging from
2,000 seats for live theater, to 3,300 for Oscar night. In contrast, the
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion handles approximately 2,500-2,800 on awards
night, and the Shrine has a capacity of 4,500. In addition to the
theater, there will be an adjacent 30,000-square-foot ballroom for the
Governor's Ball (Governor's Ball facilities at both the Music Center and
the Shrine are approximately 34,000 square feet) and accommodations for
a 1,500+ person press corps.
The theater is just a part of the "Hollywood and Highland" project,
which, in addition to being built above a Metrorail station will include
the renovation of an adjacent 470 room hotel, retail shops, multiplex
cinema, restaurants, a 3,000 car parking structure and film production
studios. Both the facility and the ground it is built upon will be owned
by the City of Los Angeles, which will lease the space to the Academy
"for however much time they need, and then we will have other tenants",
according to City Councilmember, Jackie Goldberg, who represents the