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The World's Greatest Show, The Oscars, and We Were There!

Kevin K. LI Riaz Meghji at the Academy Awards Ceremony
Kevin K. Li and Riaz Meghji (2012)

Not many people can say they've walked the red carpet at the renowned Academy Awards in LA, but I can. Even if it's just a technicality, the experience feels magical. Back in 2012, when Canadian TV stations still held sway with audiences, City TV sent Breakfast TV host Riaz Meghji and me to cover the Oscars for our station and affiliate stations across Canada.

To secure a relevant position on the red carpet for star interviews, you need to prove your worth in the cosmos. Our morning show didn't have the massive viewership of American networks, so we suspected our media accreditation would be modest, likely landing us at the back of the carpet where foot traffic was sparse. Still, we would have official access and that’s all that mattered. 

The Academy Award may honour outstanding work in the motion pictures industry, but the real focus is on what the stars are wearing on the red carpet. Interestingly, even behind-the-scenes media are required to dress up, just in case they appear in a cutaway shot. You can’t look like an ASStroid amongst those heavenly bodies, you have to keep up with the image! Up to that point, I had never worn a tuxedo, but its transformative effect made me feel like I would soon be part of the celluloid pageantry. 

Touching down in LA, we quickly traded our gear for media passes, eager to soak in the pre-show atmosphere before the chaos descended. Little did we know, our media accreditation was about as down-to-earth as it gets—limited to setup duties only, we must leave before the main event started. No hobnobbing with Meryl Streep or exchanging pleasantries with Brad Pitt—did they not realize we were City TV, the renegade station originating from Toronto that made no-tripod TV news an art form? 

Finally, stepping onto the plastic-covered red carpet felt like stepping into Hollywood dreams, the epitome of glamour Americana. While I've filmed the Olympics, covered the Molson Indy, and even interviewed at the Juno Awards, this experience was on another level. The setup crew worked so efficiently that if it were a movie, everyone would be singing a show tune. However, stepping back revealed that the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre) was smaller than expected, with the surrounding area lacking the extravagant ambiance of Tinseltown in LA, resembling more of Tinseltown in Vancouver (International Village Mall). Perhaps that’s just what Hollywood is, all about appearances. But I wasn't complaining—I still got to meet my film crush, Natalie Portman.

Though we didn't walk the red carpet during the Academy Awards, we did deliver several stories about the spectacle leading up to the Oscars. The meticulous organization, magic, and glamour ensured that viewers at home remained part of the Hollywood dreams. Perhaps next year, we'll have more viewers and more access to the red carpet.

I would like to thank ChatGPT, who helped me articulate my thoughts on this blog. (Something tells me I would fit right in to Hollywood)

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