When I came to Hollywood for Oscars week last year, my experiences were more than a little different to this year. Last year I saw things from a distance compared to this year. This year I was lucky enough to have media accreditation for the Oscars Set-Up and also extremely lucky to be included in some of the celebrations on the day.
Flying into Los Angeles on the Tuesday morning before the Oscars always comes with a bit of magic, even if your plane flight was less than magical. This time I decided to spend my first two nights in LA at The Standard at West Hollywood, a hotel I have always wanted to stay at for it's great location right on the Sunset Strip. It's been in a fair few movies including "Get Him To The Greek" with Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. I was pretty happy with my stay, no complaints at all. I did my first trip to Hollywood Boulevard to pick up my accreditation and check out how the preparation was going for Sunday. Day by day it moves closer to the end product which you see on television on the day, it doesn't all happen in a day.
Wednesday morning was extremely exciting when I was one of the lucky members of the media admitted onto the boulevard to be on site for the unravelling of the red carpet. It was a very surreal moment, but incredibly amazing to watch such a vital aspect of the day being placed and being able to stand on it yourself.
Afterwards I took a walk up Highland Ave to visit a museum which I have always wanted to visit, but for some strange reason took me so long to get to, the Hollywood Heritage Museum. This museum is located in the very barn which one of the first films in Hollywood was made in. This film was "The Squaw Man"' and it was directed by no other than the great Cecil B. DeMille. The museum even has the very desk which was part of DeMille's office and even his shoes. The museum is a tribute to silent film and my favourite part of the museum is Charlie Chaplin's camera from his old studios. The museum is volunteer run and is definitely worth a look not just for silent film buffs, but also anyone interested in Hollywood history. The barn itself is also a beautiful building and is as though you step into the past yourself when you enter.
Thursday I was also lucky enough to be invited to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Media Center at the Chinese Theater. The Media Center is for media visiting from round the world to find out a bit more about what is going on in Hollywood. This year, the Media Center played host to the premiere of Madame Tussaud's Anne Hathaway wax figure, which is incredibly lifelike. There was also great stalls by the Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Heritage Museum and many famous food outlets, including the world famous Pink's Hotdogs. A big thank you to Ana Martinez for allowing us to be part of the event!
Dearly Departed Tours who I made friends with last year when I took their Hollywood Tragical History Tour. The company specialises in the darker side of Hollywood providing tours of scandal and death sites. However morbid this may sound, the truth is that the tours are fascinating as they take you on a trip of Hollywood history locations. This time I took the Helter Skelter tour, which takes you on a tour of the key locations of the murders led by Charles Manson and his gang of followers in 1969. Even though I have read the book and seen the DVD which our tour guide, Scott Michaels made entitled "The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter", I feel like nothing could have prepared me psychologically for this. It wasn't even the graphic details of the murders themselves which disturbed me, but it was being in the same locations (particularly Cielo Drive) and the whole atmosphere. The original house has been destroyed and a new house built, but even is house remains unoccupied and it's emptiness and silence is disturbing. The rain added a feeling of dread which even though it was unplanned, very fitting for the trip. However, I do recommend the guys at Dearly Departed Tours, particularly Scott Michaels and Brian Donnelly. These guys really know their stuff and are great to have a chat to.