Walk the red carpet

Glitzy celebration: OFS hosts gathering with food, awards show, statuettes from a Hollywood icon

February 25, 2011 

It's not quite the Super Bowl, but Oscar parties will be common in private homes and community gathering spots Sunday night to watch the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony.

But the fete at Olympia’s Capitol Theater will have something almost all of those others won’t: two real Oscars. The statuettes are on loan from a Hollywood icon’s granddaughter and will add their golden allure to the annual event hosted by the Olympia Film Society.

OFS film programmer Helen Thornton said attendees (celebrity status not needed, just a $6 ticket) can dress up to walk the red carpet where emcees Josh Anderson and Emmie Forman will lavish them with attention. And ask them what they’re wearing, of course.

The price of a ticket includes entry in a raffle with prizes from local stores. The event is open to all ages but beer and wine will be sold on the upper level of the theater.

Ballots also will be distributed before the show so attendees can predict winners.

Those with the most accurate picks will receive gift certificates to area restaurants.

The 5 p.m. awards broadcast, with hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco, will be shown on the 750-seat theater’s movie screen, Thornton said. During commercial breaks, the Olympia emcees will ask attendees cinematic trivia questions on a “casting couch.”

Today, OFS opens “Another Year” – one of several Academy Award-nominated films they’ve shown and will feature this year. “Blue Valentine” opens next weekend.

Olympia resident Kathryn Ash is once again lending to the event two Academy Awards won by her grandfather, Arthur Freed.

Freed was a legendary Hollywood producer and lyricist behind some of the biggest hits in Hollywood’s Golden Era. He died in 1973.

Ash was raised two blocks from Fox studios in Los Angeles. “I grew up in a world where publicists kept you out of newspapers,” she said.

Freed was responsible for some of the most remembered moments in Hollywood. A producer on the 1939 musical “The Wizard of Oz,” he was responsible for signing Judy Garland in the iconic role originally intended for Shirley Temple. As a lyricist, he’s perhaps best known for writing “Singing in the Rain” with frequent collaborator Nacio Herb Brown.

Freed produced movies into the 1960s including “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Showboat” and “Gigi.”

For that latter 1958 film, along with 1951’s “An American in Paris,” he was awarded the two Oscars for Best Picture.

Freed was a visionary. He produced “Cabin in the Sky” – the first mainstream movie with an all-black cast and one of Lena Horne’s first roles. “It was highly radical to bring an all-black movie into the (mainstream) theater,” Ash said.

Horne went on to work with Freed in “Ziegfeld Follies” and “Words and Music.” “Cabin” was directed by Vincente Minnelli (father of Liza) who, Ash says, was made a director by her grandfather. Previously he had been a set decorator.

Ash said Freed appeared only once in his movies, a brief one-line scene in 1945’s “The Clock.”

“He said it made him such a nervous wreck, he’d never do it again,” Ash said.

On Sunday, attendees at OFS’s party can pose with the Oscars Freed won and for a few moments hold a little Hollywood magic in their hands.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

Oscar Party

What: Olympia Film Society hosts its red carpet Academy Awards hoopla, including watching the awards show on the big screen.

When: 4:30 p.m. walk the red carpet, 5 p.m. show Sunday

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia

Tickets: 6, includes raffle, www.brown papertickets.com

Information: 360-754-6670, www.olympiafilmsociety.org

Note: All ages, with beer/wine upstairs for ages 21 and older

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