Oscar Comes To Grand Central


I’m going to be honest. I have a certain affinity for the Oscars, despite all of the oft-mentioned problems with the event (too long, too off-base with the films it honors). My frequent go-to procrastination technique involves searching for clips from old ceremonies on YouTube. (Billy Crystal as Gollum! Anna Paquin as child in a hat!). So in order to fulfill a giddy pre-Oscar fix I headed to Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall Friday to visit the “Meet The Oscars” exhibit running through this weekend. There I would encounter some real-life Oscar statuettes rather than the pixelated kind to which I was becoming accustomed.

Before heading over I talked to Patrick Harrison, East Coast director of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, via phone about this tradition now six years running of bringing a little LA to New York.

“This is our way, the Academy’s way, to broaden our reach and really allow other people to celebrate the magic of the Oscars,” Harrison told me when I spoke to him earlier this week.

Though there is an educational and historical element to the exhibit — including one case describing how an Oscar gets made and another featuring Michael Douglas’ award for Wall Street — the main attraction is a stage where visitors can get their picture taken holding a real-life Oscar statuette.

So what happens when people actually get their hands on a statuette? Harrison said: “Most people have the same response: oh wow, it was so heavy.”

He wasn’t off base. That’s what New Yorkers Karen Levine, 56, and Sheryl Handler, 24, said about the gold man when I caught them separately at the exhibit. Not passing up my opportunity to get my hands on an Oscar — I’m certainly not going to get one this way — I ascended the podium. I too can attest that the little guy carried a deceivingly large load. And that he probably goes better with a ball gown rather than two bags, a stifling pea coat and a reporter’s notebook.

But, while the exhibit was a fun diversion for both city dwellers and tourists I met there, for a mother and daughter who happened to stumble upon it, the enclave of Hollywood magic — the carpet was, naturally, red — held a symbolic significance.

Westchester residents Mikayla Golub, 12, and her mother, Rhonda, were in the city for Mikayla’s first professional audition when they ran across the Oscar festivities. Naturally, they decided to get photos with the statuette.

“Maybe someday I’ll get a real one,” Mikayla told me, when I asked her what the experience was like.

Her mother looked to more immediate results.

“We’re hoping this brings her good luck,” Rhonda said.

The 84th Annual Academy Awards air tomorrow.