LOS ANGELES – Right now, the appropriate attire is hard hat, work shirt, jeans and heavy boots. Come Nov. 9, Hollywood's glitterati will appear in tuxes and gowns for the grand opening of the new home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre.
Workmen are applying finishing touches to the $94 million palace at the traffic-clogged intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, part of an ambitious, four-year, $615 million project aimed at reviving Hollywood's decaying downtown.
The Hollywood and Highland complex, as it's being called, towers over the adjacent Grauman's Chinese Theater and includes the Renaissance Hotel (a made-over Holiday Inn).
It offers a permanent home to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' awards show after 70 years of the gypsy life. The Kodak is just a block away from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first Oscars were handed out in a 15-minute ceremony in 1929.
"It's thrilling to know that we can go back and have the Academy Awards where they started," said Academy spokesman John Pavlik.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is happy too. "We're hoping that the development will jump-start tourism," says chamber President Leron Gubler.
Somewhat less enthusiastic are residents in the hills just to the north. Not only has the complex's enormity jarred some aesthetic sensibilities, there are widespread worries that the area's already horrendous traffic will become even worse.
"I'm sure for the Academy Awards they will want to shut down the side streets at least for a week before and a few days after," said Kurt Kassulke, president of the Hollywood Heights Homeowners Association. "We're concerned that it will take an awful long time to get into our neighborhood. And it would be unsafe if — heaven forbid — there was a fire or some emergency."