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Arts and Entertainment

Behind-the-Scenes: LAist at the Oscar Nominations

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Hundreds of journalists, photographers and crews descended on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard early this morning for the announcement for the 83rd Annual Academy Award (Oscar) nominations.

LAist was on site at 3:30 am to take in the scene so you wouldn’t have to. It was mildly amusing to see Facebook status updates of friends just heading to bed (but really, there aren’t a lot of laughs to be had after three hours of sleep).

The nominations are announced at 5:38 am, a tradition harkens back to the days of print newspaper deadlines, when studios and publicists needed to make East Coast morning shows and papers, but in this age of instant media gratification, it seems like its more of a badge of honor to say you had to get up that early to “work the Oscar beat.” But we like the 5:30 hour for the announcement. Why? No traffic through Beverly Hills AND free parking to boot. When else can you say that?

At 3:30 am, regularly credentialed journalists/bloggers/photogs/crew are allowed to enter the Academy’s lobby, go through searches and metal detectors and sit down to a full breakfast. Kudos for the Academy for setting up an espresso bar by the main entrance. We made a beeline for the coffee station and then found an open seat among the early birds and crews who were setting up way before we even got out of bed.

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From 4-5 am, the waiting begins. You network and chitchat with tablemates about the early hour and pick out other writers you know in the crowd. We were lucky enough to share a table with cool and down-to-earth crew members from Inside Edition and an editor from Script magazine.

By this time, the room packed, and the people watching is great. You can always pick out the on-air talent like ET's Nancy O’Dell, ABC 7's George Pennacchio and Lauren Sanchezbecause they’re the only ones camera ready in the crowd—unlike a lot of other sleepy people who pulled on a pair of jeans in the dark and hit the road.

At 5 am, the Academy makes an announcement that the First Admittance badge holders —camera crews and the big-name outlets—can enter the auditorium first. But LAist flies coach, and we had to wait for the 5:20ish call. Just like a Southwest airlines queue, some people waited against the velvet rope to be first in line of the B group. We overheard some people laughing at the reporters RUNNING up the stairs to grab the best B seats in the theater (which were numerous, btw).

Once inside, we took in the sights and sounds of camera crews from all over TV land testing their feeds. (One outlet that shall remain nameless was louder than the rest, and we could hear the talent broadcasting over the Academy’s introduction, but they’re more important, right?)

Then the hour finally arrived. Academy President Tom Sherak and 2009 Oscar winner Mo'Nique (Precious) made the announcements.

We noticed the first audible gasp of surprise when 14-year-old Haillee Steinfeld was named a Best Supporting Actress nominee. Throughout the announcements, there were a few claps and cheers for favorites among the news crowd. (Our section of the auditorium seemed to be really pleased with 127 Hours’ nod for Adapted Screenplay).

After all the waiting and buildup, the announcements were finished in about 10 minutes. The auditorium emptied quickly of print journalists who had to rush off and Tweet, post and write about the Oscars, the nominations and the snubs. We filed back out onto Wilshire Boulevard just before 6 am, but not before grabbing another double cappuccino for the road. It's already been a long day.

LAist will be live at the Oscars on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre.

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