NEW YORK – Oscar, welcome to the Big Apple.
On a bleak and rainy Monday in New York City, 50 golden Oscar statuettes gleamed inside a Times Square window display as tourists and curious city folk paused to ogle and snap pictures — or shrug and keep walking.
"This is the closest I think I ever will be," mused Ulysses Amoros, 50, a New Yorker who said he would like to win an Oscar for Best Picture. "That's why I'm this close, dreaming."
The newly minted statuettes made their New York debut as part of a "Meet the Oscars" exhibition at Times Square Studios (44th St. and Broadway) presented by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. They will be displayed through Feb. 1. Then they're off to sunny Los Angeles to take centerstage at the Academy Awards ceremony, which will be held March 5.
Each eight-and-a-half pound Oscar stands 13-inches tall and is made of gold-plated britannium, a metal alloy. (Let's hope tiny Reese Witherspoon, if her name is called, has a solid grip.)
"They're shinier and look better-made," observed Marcia Fokas, 55, a lawyer from Queens. "I think it's good they're coming to New York...I think jaded New Yorkers take this in stride because we see this kind of stuff all the time, but to out-of-towners, this would seem special."
Veerle Romsse, 30, a veterinarian visiting New York by way of Belgium, snapped souvenir pictures on her camera.
"(The Academy Awards) are tremendously popular" in Belgium, said Romsse, who predicts a Best Picture victory for the gay-themed cowboy film "Brokeback Mountain."
The Oscars might be internationally renowned, but New York-based businessman Mark Potter, 44, said he thinks most been-there, done-that New Yorkers will ignore the statuettes: "There's a naked cowboy (in Times Square) when the weather is a little better, but nobody even sees him anymore."
Potter said he wouldn't mind owning a statuette, but thinks the race to earn one is too political.
"You can't make a good (movie) and win an Oscar," said Potter, who admitted he hasn't seen many of this year's front-runners and hopefuls.
But retired minister and longtime Manhattan resident Don Struchen, 83, admired the statuettes, taking a picture on his Palm Pilot.
"They're beautiful," said Struchen, a movie buff and fan of critical darlings "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Walk the Line." "But, I don't expect to win one."