BACKSTAGE MAN

Byline: Merle Ginsberg

“Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain,” boomed the voice in “The Wizard of Oz.” The wizard of Oscar is also a man behind a curtain: Bruce Grayson, a veteran makeup artist who’s done television series and awards shows, was back yesterday for his fourth Academy Awards as the head of the backstage makeup team at the Shrine Auditorium.
Given there’s usually neither a dry eye nor an unkissed cheek among the winners, he had his work cut out for him.
“With high-resolution TV, you can see much more precise detail. And by the time the actors pull up to the carpet at 4:30, they can look pretty ragged,” said Grayson, who stationed eight fellow makeup artists in strategic locations just offstage and in the green room. “If we get the cryers in our chairs, we take off a lot of their foundation and mascara and reapply.
“We have to do it fast — the press rooms are hankering for them,” he added. “But it’s hard to get them to calm down. People are schmoozing them, even in my chair.”
Given Grayson’s unparalleled access to the stars who seek him out backstage, MAC cosmetics shipped him products in every color of the rainbow; those who graced his chair for touch-ups often came away with new lipsticks or powders. “If they like it, they want it,” he said. “And MAC is very quick to ship. I got to know them working on ‘Just Shoot Me.”‘
Naturally, Grayson has a favorite Oscar anecdote — but with no names attached.
“My favorite actress sat down in my chair one year. She was wearing this stunning but revealing gown, and she was definitely self-conscious about it. She said to me, ‘How are my breasts?’ I said, ‘very nice.’ So she adjusted them and said, ‘How now?’ I said, ‘stunning.’ And she said, ‘Thank you,’ and walked away happy. Diplomacy is a big part of my business.”