Oscars 2016: Live updates from the 88th Academy Awards – Los Angeles Times

Behind heavy security at the corner of Hollywood and Highland, in a velvet-roped area, the specter of film luminaries looms. There’ s a Tom McCarthy here, an Alejandro Inarritu there, a Sly Stallone somewhere else.

The Oscar nominees themselves? Not exactly. This is the publicist holding pen at the top of the red carpet. It is where the people who manage the people gather, waiting for their star clients to arrive, strategizing and dishing accordingly.

The vibe is somewhere between secret society and ‎construction-site lunch break. Gossip about nominees is swapped; complaints about recalcitrant stars is exchanged and eye-rolled‎.

There are a number of rituals. Comparing the relative lateness of nominees is one:

“I don’t think he’s getting in the car until 4,” said the publicist of one high-profile filmmaker nominee.

“I think mine’s still eating breakfast,” volleyed her friend.

There is also a hierarchy to the proceedings. Like so much in Hollywood, the holding pen is less about what you’ve done than the company you keep. Who you’re with is who you are.

“I’m here with the ‘Spotlight’ editor Tom McCardle, the ‘Spotlight’ reporters, and Tom Hooper,” said one publicist‎ with some swagger about “The Danish Girl” director.

Replied another: “Tom Hooper’s here?”

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