The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 26, 2014

On the red carpet

Movie buffs get chance to see stars

The Commercial-News

---- — Watching the Academy Awards is an annual affair for movie lovers Suzy Smalley and Mimi Myers. They fix an elegant meal, enjoy champagne or special drinks, and sit back to watch the ceremony on the television screen. Sometimes, they even dress up in formal wear.

This year, their routine will change a bit — when they go to Los Angeles to see those stars in person.

“We’re so excited we can barely stand it,” Myers said.

Last fall, Myers entered the ABC Ultimate Oscar Red Carpet Fan Experience Sweepstakes, and learned toward the end of the year that her name was one of 50 chosen.

She, Smalley and winners of other contests will be seated in bleachers outside the theater Sunday afternoon and watch celebrities walk down the red carpet. When that event ends, they will be taken to a theater across the street so they can watch the awards program on a big screen and eat a catered dinner.

Although they won’t actually be in the same room as the actors, they’ll be a few feet away during the red carpet event.

“We get a direct-line view of the celebrities,” Smalley said, adding that sometimes the celebrities will stop and chat with people in the front two rows.

She said there will be 10 rows of bleachers, and she expects 100-300 people or more in the stands. The two women don’t know where they will be seated.

They hope to catch a glimpse of all their favorites: Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Matt McConaughey, Bette Midler and Pink.

Myers is disappointed that George Clooney is not expected to show up, and Smalley had hoped to see Barbra Streisand.

The two women leave Friday for L.A. and return Monday. They have a free day Saturday, when a former college friend of Smalley’s will show them the sights.

They arrive at 8:30 a.m. Sunday outside the Dolby Theatre to hear all of the rules and learn the logistics. The red carpet event starts around 1 p.m. and lasts about four hours. Then they will go across the street to the El Capitan to watch the ceremony.

Smalley said the onlookers are allowed to bring cameras. Also, officials told them to wear comfortable clothes and not dress up.

However, just in case, Smalley and Myers don’t want to be caught on camera in casual clothing, so they’ll be wearing nice sundresses.

“I’m not going to be in jeans and a T-shirt in Hollywood,” Myers said.

Smalley suggested people watch the red carpet event Sunday afternoon on E! entertainment channel, adding, “Maybe you can see us in the background gawking.”

The only downside is that California is expecting torrential rains this week. The red carpet area will be covered for the day, Smalley said, so they won’t get soaking wet. Still, she’s disappointed that she won’t have sunny weather on her first trip to California. Myers has been to California before.

Myers said their first task when they land is to buy cheap umbrellas.

While preparing for the trip, the two have been in contact with other contest winners through a special Facebook page.

They will stay at a hotel within walking distance of the theater, which Smalley booked in December.

Being part of the Oscars in person is exciting for the movie buffs, who make a nice evening out of watching the ceremonies.

“We love to watch the Oscars together,” Smalley said. “It’s special to us.”

“I’m a huge movie nut. We both are,” Myers said.

Besides loving movies, both women are involved in local theater, including Danville Light Opera and Red Mask. Smalley has been involved for years, while Myers has just started acting.

FYI Television coverage of the Academy Awards begins at 6 p.m. (Central time) Sunday on ABC. E! Channel will cover the pre-Oscar events, starting at 12:30 p.m.