When the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences introduced this yr’s Oscar nominees on March 15, it additionally let drop that it was mixing issues up on the venue entrance: As a substitute of staging the whole 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, nominees, presenters and their friends will attend a extra intimate — and socially distanced — supper club-style occasion at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on April 25. The three,400-seat Dolby Theatre, situated contained in the Hollywood & Highland shopping center, which has hosted the Oscars since 2002, will as a substitute be used to broadcast extra present parts. All that florid interpretive dance has to go someplace.
And so does L.A. visitors. Which brings me to the first query raised by the transfer: What will the Academy Awards — recognized for establishing a Baghdad-like inexperienced zone across the perimeter of Hollywood & Highland within the days and weeks previous to the ceremony — do to L.A.’s most vital public transit hub? Union Station, in any case, is the place Amtrak, MetroLink, the Gold, Crimson and Purple Traces meet, together with a plethora of bus strains, together with Greyhound, Megabus, LAX Flyaway, to not point out the untold variety of native buses that join downtown with the remainder of town. Locations like Union Station are how working folks — those who can’t Zoom it in throughout a pandemic — get to their jobs.
A press launch issued by Metro on the time of the bulletins states that the company will probably be “working laborious to attenuate disruptions round Union Station” and that no “bus or rail closures because of the occasion” are anticipated. However as urbanism author Alissa Walker notes in a narrative in Curbed, “Anybody who has been there throughout a movie shoot, navigating closed-off entrances and closely patrolled detours, is aware of, it will find yourself negatively impacting individuals who depend on transit.”
She suggests holding the ceremony at Dodger Stadium. I’ve a greater concept: Stage it on the Music Heart.
Positioned a mere seven blocks from Union Station (simply in case somebody is considering taking Amtrak to the Academy Awards), the positioning situated over three metropolis blocks is virtually designed to host a socially distanced occasion made up of quite a lot of parts, be it performances, displays, speeches or dead-people montage.
So far as contemporary air goes, the Music Heart is stocked. The advanced is dwelling to a gleaming 36,000-square-foot out of doors house that was just lately refurbished to the tune of $41 million by the architectural agency Rios Clementi Hale Studios (now recognized merely Rios). The hilltop Jerry Moss Plaza, situated between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Mark Taper Discussion board, not solely provides fantastic views of Metropolis Corridor and downtown, it’s totally tricked out for occasions, with two large LED screens (presently displaying brief movies about L.A.) in addition to tie-downs for occasion tents of all sizes — all of it built-in and able to go.
Additionally built-in: knowledge and fiber optic cables that join the positioning to the surface world, together with the 4 efficiency areas that decision the Music Heart dwelling. These embrace the Walt Disney Live performance Corridor, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Discussion board and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The Music Heart additionally manages cultural programming for Grand Park, which suggests its staffers know their approach round an out of doors occasion — just like the common Dance DTLA nights and the annual (in non-COVID-19 instances) New Yr’s Eve events that draw near 75,000 attendees with music and light-weight reveals.
Furthermore, simply final week, the Music Heart introduced it was the primary performing arts group within the nation to obtain a UL “wholesome constructing” verification, representing a excessive customary of air high quality in any respect 4 venues.
So, think about if you’ll an Oscars through which Leslie Odom Jr., a nominee for authentic tune, performs “Converse Now” from “One Night time in Miami” on the Taper’s intimate, half-moon stage. Think about projecting clips from the very best image contenders in opposition to Frank Gehry’s sinuous Disney Corridor (just like the wild projections staged by artist Refik Anadol in the course of the L.A. Phil’s a centesimal anniversary gala in 2018). And picture — think about — all of the florid interpretive dance numbers you possibly can characteristic on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a setting that comes pre-loaded with Oscars historical past. The theater, in any case, was the positioning of the Academy Awards for 3 a long time beginning in 1969.
It’s an only-in-L.A. mixture of architectural and present biz historical past.
This isn’t to say that Union Station isn’t fairly nice. I can completely see why the academy selected it as a location for the Oscars.
The station is breathtaking. And as a frequent consumer of Amtrak and the Gold Line, I by no means stop to marvel at John and Donald Parkinson’s swish Mission Revival constructing, which was accomplished in 1939 and has just lately undergone a $4.1 million restoration. With its beamed ceilings, hand-painted tiles and bronze chandeliers, the place has an air not of harried rail middle, however of a baroque Spanish cathedral. It’s pure ceremony.
Nonetheless, selecting Union Station seems like a obtrusive missed alternative. Not solely is the Music Heart arrange for an occasion just like the Oscars — in a spot that doesn’t inconvenience hundreds of passengers every day — its position as a performing arts venue would have allowed the Academy to point out solidarity with cultural areas that have been shuttered, to not point out economically crushed, by the pandemic.
Hollywood, this place that’s in L.A. however is mostly not of it, might have visibly expressed its help for native theater and music and dance — areas of the performing arts that not solely often work their approach into movie, but additionally constantly feed it. (Three of the eight greatest image nominees, in any case, started life as stage performs: Kemp Powers’ “One Night time in Miami…,” August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Backside” and Florian Zeller’s “The Father.”)
As a substitute, the Academy is honoring the work of filmmakers and performers in … a practice station. One to which all the celebrities will little doubt arrive of their limos.
It will likely be pretty, little doubt. However in a tradition the place the humanities stay beleaguered and an everyday goal for politicians, it certain would have been good to see a telecast that not solely highlighted movie, however all the ancillary areas of tradition that assist maintain it.
For that, nonetheless, we could have to attend till the following pandemic.
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