ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: USA: OSCARS PREVIEW

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(11 Mar 1999) English/Nat

HOLLYWOOD GEARS UP FOR THE BIGGEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR

Oscar fever has hit Los Angeles, with the big event now less than three weeks away.

And like every year, it’s not only about movies, it’s about the glitz, the food and the fashions.

With the elaborate preparations for the Oscars ceremony well underway, Hollywood is getting excited.

Glamour and hype – the trademarks of the Oscar season – hit the runway here at the Academy of Motion Pictures in Beverly Hills just three weeks before the big show.

Thirty models showed off the latest couture from some of the biggest names in fashion, from Giorgio Armani and Christian Dior to Shanghai Tang.

Most of these outfits probably won’t be seen on Oscar night, although if they do it could mean huge business for those who dress the winners.

After all, the Oscars is the world’s biggest fashion show and there’s no better exposure to potential buyers than to the millions who tune in to the awards show every year.

Typically, Oscar nominees and presenters borrow and wear these fashionable gowns for one night only.

And to designer Fred Hayman, a winning look is nearly as important as winning an award.

Smoked salmon and sturgeon will be on the menu at the Governor’s Ball – the official post-Oscar party.

It’s become a legendary appetizer from renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, who will lead the culinary team at the Governor’s Ball for the fourth year in a row.

Puck’s menu features elegant fare that’s still simple enough to prepare for the 1- thousand-650 guests.

Sketches of the Governor’s Ball reveal a romantic setting that looks like it’s come straight out of one of the two Elizabethan films that are up for Oscars.

The ball is the first stop on the party tour for the winners to show off their trophies and for the losers to drown their sorrows.

But win or lose, it’s the stars’ looks that will no doubt grab the attention of the media and the fans.

In past years, certain female stars have made memorable faux pas by going for extreme hair styles that didn’t work.

Renowned hair stylist Frederic Fekkai is in charge of hair styling for the models in the Oscar preview fashion show.

He claims to know the secret of a sexy hairdo on Oscar night.

But nothing happens until each of the 5-thousand-557 Academy voters cast their final ballots at the offices of Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Voters have until Tuesday, March 16th to return their ballots to the auditing firm that carries out the counts.

Many studios take out huge advertisements in the Hollywood trade magazines to persuade Academy members to vote for their films.

Roberto Benigni’s ‘Life is Beautiful’ has been nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Film.

Miramax, the studio behind the Italian film, is hoping its aggressive campaign in the trade magazines could make the difference.

And with three weeks to go before the Oscars, there’s still time for plenty of hype.

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