Tales from Tinseltown - Lost ballots, nosy reporters and stolen Oscars: PR you can’t buy

Are this year’s Oscars jinxed? Given the mishaps and misfortunes that have befallen the Academy this season, it would certainly seem so.

Are this year’s Oscars jinxed? Given the mishaps and misfortunes that have befallen the Academy this season, it would certainly seem so.

Are this year’s Oscars jinxed? Given the mishaps and misfortunes

that have befallen the Academy this season, it would certainly seem

so.



It all started earlier this month, when 4,200 ballots intended for

California-based Academy members were diverted to a US Postal Service

third-class processing center. Next came word that pesky reporters from

The Wall Street Journal were trying to predict voting patterns by

surreptitiously polling Academy members. Finally, on March 16, Academy

officials sheepishly announced that several boxes of Oscar statuettes

were ’apparently stolen’ from a loading dock of Roadway Express, a

shipping company near Los Angeles.



But last Monday, the saga had - what else? - a happy Hollywood

ending.



Fifty-two of the 55 missing statuettes were found in a grocery store

dumpster Sunday night by local rummager Willie Fulgear, and the LAPD has

two suspects in custody. Alas, it’s unlikely the little gold men will

make it to the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday night - they are being held

as evidence by the police.



The Associated Press reported that Fulgear hadn’t even known the Oscars

were missing. ’I’ve got more Oscars than any of the movie stars,’ he

quipped upon making his discovery known to a local TV station. It’s

still unclear if the 61-year-old, who claims that he was looking for

empty boxes, will receive the dollars 50,000 reward that was offered by

Railway Express when the statuettes first disappeared on March 10.



If you think all this sounds like the plot of a screwball comedy, you’re

not the only one. At a press conference held last Monday afternoon,

Academy president Robert Rehme hoisted a collection of the recovered

Oscars overhead as a sign of victory and proclaimed, ’The show will go

on!’



Rehme also joked that the episode had given returning host Billy Crystal

scads of new material that is sure to make its way onto the

broadcast.



’I’m not sure what Billy is going to do,’ said Rehme. ’But it’s going to

be very, very funny.’



Insiders at the Academy admit that the events leading up to the big

night have caused more headaches than hype. ’I don’t think any of us

anticipated having to deal with all of these issues,’ one staffer said.

’It’s been crazier than usual this year, and there are more than a few

of us who work here who are just waiting for Sunday to be over.’



As for the still-missing three Oscars? ’I wouldn’t be surprised if they

turned up at some theme restaurant,’ the staffer joked. ’These days, it

seems as if the whole world has gone Oscar mad.’



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