OSCAR COUNTDOWN: Joan Gets Nasty

02/25/2004 01:00PM

(All times Pacific. Latest item at the top.)

Friday, Feb. 27: Joan Gets Nasty with Diane

7 a.m.: Joan Rivers makes a shocking revelation to the Los Angeles Times, admitting that not all celebrities love talking to her on the red carpet. "Diane Keaton said no to me at the Golden Globes after I'd written a chapter for her stupid clown book for free. Maybe she was worried about the eczema on her hands. I don't know." Rivers also claims that she never rips into anybody "who's not terribly famous."

7 a.m.: The morning temperature is 40 degrees. So much for moving the Oscars up a month.

Thursday, Feb. 26: Blake Gets Props

7 p.m.: The Academy honors Lifetime Achievement Award winner-to-be Blake Edwards, who directed, among others, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther series and Victor/Victoria, starring his wife, Julie Andrews. A reception is held at the Hollywood & Highland complex.

5 p.m.: Bartenders are blending Best Picture-inspired drinks, thanks to a push by Bacardi Rums. These include the "Rough Seas" (for Master and Commander), comprised of Bacardi Limon, grapefruit juice and apple Schnapps; the "Chocolate Transition" (for Lost in Translation), a blend of Bacardi Vanilla, Godiva white liquor and Talea; and "My Precious Martini" (in honor of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,), created by bartender Mike Swan of Shelter and consisting of Bacardi O, orange juice and Red Bull. Miramax reputedly is ladling up the concoctions at its pre-Oscar bash.

4 p.m.: Tea at the Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel, where Jimmy Choo will pour and present gold stilettos or crystal-encrusted strap-ons. (Shoes, that is.)

3 p.m.: This year's goodie bag will be awfully heavy to tote home. Included, besides tickets to a two-night penthouse package at Caesar's Palace that includes four tickets to Celine Dion's Las Vegas show and $9,000 in spending money at the hotel: a $6,000 state-of-the-art Samsung high-definition TV and Motorola's new $350 V810 camera cell phone (for acting and directing nominees). Estee Lauder also is giving acting nominees the first-ever Manolo Blahnik suede-lined leather bag, stuffed with matching Blahnik suede sandals, a Hermes cashmere throw, a bottle of La Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot champagne, Baccarat crystal earrings for the women and crystal lighters for the men. (Estimated total value: $10,000.) Victoria's Secret sent each of the five Best Actress nominees a jeweled pink lace and satin bra and panty set worth an estimated $7,000. Hope no one tells the IRS.

2 p.m.: Other than being inside one, the best place to view arriving limos on Sunday night is Mel's Drive-In (the American Graffiti-inspired restaurant chain, south of Hollywood Boulevard). There are four window tables that face the avenue, and the tuna melt isn't bad.

12:30 p.m.: No. 1 topic of lunch conversation from the Ivy to Michael's to Cantor's deli: Disney CEO Michael Eisner's recently unsealed, scathing 1996 letter to then-company president Michael Ovitz, telling him to quit. Journalists, in particular, focus on inflammatory portion that suggests Variety editor Peter Bart was (polite way of putting it) a little too cozy with Ovitz.

11 a.m.: The numbers: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has 6,570 members, of which 767 are "retired." Of those, 5,803 are eligible to vote in the Academy Awards race. (The Kodak Theatre, meanwhile, has only 3,400 seats, and those get snapped up by presenters, nominees and their guests, with the remaining going to winning Academy members who participate in a ticket lottery.) In terms of who votes, there are 1,298 actors, 465 producers, 433 executives, 416 in the sound branch, 403 writers, 372 directors, 366 "members at large," 366 art directors, 365 in public relations, 307 in the short films and feature animation division, 241 in music, 239 in visual effects, 222 film editors, 182 cinematographers and 128 documentarians. That's an awful lot of executives.

10 a.m.: The Academy tells TV camera crews that they are welcome to use the red carpet arrivals area for pre-coverage and live stand-ups on Friday, but "it is vital that you NOT leave any equipment behind over the night of Friday to Saturday." That's because by Saturday the rains that have been plaguing the Southland all week are forecast to end, and the weather canopies over the red carpet can be lifted. "To facilitate this removal process," the Academy dictates, "it is necessary for you to remove all of your equipment."

9 a.m.: Though it is only three years old, the financially troubled Hollywood & Highland complex, which houses the Kodak Theatre and adjoining Renaissance Hotel (as well as a California Pizza Kitchen, other eateries and stores, and several shuttered retail spaces), is about to have a new owner. The firm of CIM paid only $200 million to buy the $400 million complex from original developer TrizecHahn, according to news reports. CIM is credited with bringing new life to Pasadena's Old Town and Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. Maybe what Hollywood & Highland needs are rides.

8:30 a.m.: This morning's Hollywood Reporter says that Van Cleef & Arpels jewelers are making diamonds available to contenders going to the Oscars. The baubles can be had (on loan) via private showings to stylists at the Van Cleef boutique in Beverly Hills or through housecalls. Talk about just what the doctor ordered.

8 a.m.: The flowers, hedges and prop Oscars are delivered to the 500-ft. red carpet, Hollywood Boulevard and Orchid Walk areas. Men who look more like Teamsters and less like floral arrangers start putting the pink roses and dusky red carnations in their place.

6 a.m.: Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Hollywood & Highland complex is shut down to street traffic through Sunday, thus creating gridlock on surrounding streets and preventing tourists from seeing Shirley Temple's star on the sidewalk.

• Check out PEOPLE.com's complete coverage of the Oscars.

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