With a war against Iraq likely to begin any day, Oscar organizers have said the show will go on this Sunday as planned — but the question is, should it?
The public is divided over the answer.
"If men are in harm's way, I don't think they should have [the Oscars] out of respect for them," said Lori Bardsley, a North Carolina stay-at-home mother who heads up Citizens Against Celebrity Pundits, which protests stars' anti-war stumping. "To see them gallivanting around Hollywood in fancy dresses while our men are in harm’s way is very disrespectful."
But others think that canceling or postponing such a longstanding tradition as the Oscars would give our enemies the wrong idea.
"That's just sending a message that we're giving up," said Jim Smith of Indianapolis, whose stepson Matt Benjamin is serving on an Army ship overseas. "That's just showing that they're disrupting us. We have to keep going."
While the 75th Annual Academy Awards is still set to be broadcast as scheduled on March 23, organizers said Tuesday that the razzle-dazzle red carpet arrivals, where celebrities show off their extravagant dresses and jewels, have been canceled.
Academy Awards producer Gil Cates said a number of stars had requested to enter through a less conspicuous, back door. He said the actual red carpet itself would still be there but the crush of reporters, paparazzi and fans would not.
Academy President Frank Pierson said the timing of the war could affect the glitzy show.
"The show will go on – sooner or later, it will go on," Pierson said. "It may not be the same show that you would see in another year."
Academy sources told E! Online that if war were declared during the next few days, the Oscars would be held as planned, with the addition of news breaks and a news ticker running across the screen. But if the fighting begins sometime over the weekend, the sources said, the ceremony could conceivably be put off until Monday or Tuesday.
Although Smith said the awards should take place as scheduled, he thinks stars should be prohibited from protesting the war while they're onstage presenting or making acceptance speeches.
"I think it should have a military theme," said Smith, who recently launched the military support Web site www.militaryfriends.net. "They should support our troops, support the families of our troops. The world is going through a tough time right now."
But Cates said that although he'd advise Oscar winners to focus on their film work and not on world events, he won't prevent anyone from using their time at the podium for other reasons.
"A person who wins the Academy Award has 45 seconds there and they can say what they want to say," he said. "If someone wants to make a political statement, it's a free country. We can’t stop them – we wouldn’t."
The rumored political speeches are one reason Bardsley said she objects to the Oscars going off as scheduled.
"It will just reinforce the lack of unity they've been encouraging in our country with their anti-war protests," she said. "They should hold off on airing it. What's the matter with postponing it for a while?"
The 75-year-old Academy Awards ceremony is no stranger to the impact of world events. The show was postponed in 1981 after President Reagan was shot and in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Cates said whether or not the war has actually started by Sunday, the glitz of the event will probably be muted.
"Obviously, if there is a war, the show's tone will change," Cates said. "There are things we're going to do differently. It will probably take a little bit of the gloss off it."
Additionally, security will be particularly tight and war activists will be barred from Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding area.
Cates also surmised that celebrity fashion will be less showy and glamourous than usual.
"Some of the stars might reflect in their dress the fact that there's a war going on," Cates said.
Stars may avoid plunging necklines and flashy diamonds, but with all the advertising dollars invested in the Oscars, a cancellation or postponement would be a last resort. Thirty-second spots during the Academy Awards ranged in cost from $1.3 to $1.4 million, according to Hollywood Reporter television editor Scott Collins. And postponing the program could mean millions down the drain.
"The longer you keep the ads off, the more money you lose," Collins said. "A few days, you've got to be up to at least $10 million in lost revenue. There is an awful lot of money that's gone into this event."
Fox News' Mike Waco contributed to this report.