HOLLYWOOD, CA – When most people imagine Los Angeles they envision palm tree-lined neighborhoods and shiny convertibles carrying Hollywood starlets dressed for success.
This is not the case most of the year. The majority of Angelinos have less to do with the sparkling movie lights but instead spend their day dealing with smog and traffic. However, once a year the fairytale comes true and our city takes center stage to host one of the most glamorous events of the year: the Academy Awards.
This year, the spotlight is turned onto a Greek dynamic duo that after many years
of friendship have each snagged Oscar nominations for their film Nebraska.
Alexander Payne directs this whimsical tale of an estranged father and son who reunited for a life changing road trip. Payne’s grandfather changed their name from Papadopoulos after he moved to Boston from Greece as a result of anti-Greek riots that were common on the East coast in the 1900s. His father then relocated to Omaha, where Payne grew up grew up and his love for his hometown is captured in this beautiful film.
However, Payne credits Phedon Papamichael, his friend and collaborator, for the breathtaking cinematography that highlights the beauty of his beloved state. Papamichael moved from Athens when he was six years old and became interested in film while watching his father, a renowned set designer who worked closely with John Cassavetes.
Papamichael and Payne have been friends since the early nineties, when they met fresh out of film school. Both struggling artists in Los Angeles, they felt united by their Greek roots and stayed friends for over 20 years until they finally came together to collaborate on the film Sideways (2004). Papamichael went on to shoot every film Payne has written and directed since. This, however, is his first Academy Award nomination and Payne is thrilled for his longtime friend.
Papamichael and Payne will take to the red carpet on March 2nd. The Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theater (formerly known as the Kodak). This decadent, state-of-the-art theater can seat over 3000 guests and has been the ceremony’s home since 2001. Unless you have been nominated for an Oscar or have worked on one of the films, however, you will have to watch the event from your living room couch. That was not always the case, though. The first Academy Awards ceremony took place on May 16th, 1929 at the Blossom Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it was open to the public and tickets were only $10.
If you happen to be visiting Los Angeles, you can still experience some of the glamour of the day. Guided tours of the Dolby Theater are held every day between 10:30AM and 4PM. The tour includes a viewing of an Oscar statuette and a visit to the Dolby Lounge, where all the winners relax after their acceptance speech. All this for $17 (adults), $12 children, and you can leave your ball gown and tuxedo at home.
An insider’s tip, if you happen to be in town on the day of the event, avoid Hollywood Boulevard unless you want to be stuck behind a line of limos for hours. Instead, pack a picnic dinner and head up to the Griffith Park Observatory. The views of the city from this vantage point are magical and with the help of the public telescopes you can catch a glimpse of the red carpet, and maybe even spot Payne and Papamichael. After dinner head inside the observatory to look at some real stars, in a less crowded state of the art theater – the Los Angeles Planetarium.