LOS ANGELES — Organizers of the Oscars said in a press conference late Tuesday that they will be truncating the red-carpet portion of the awards event, but the show will go on. Even before Academy Awards producer Gil Cates Jr. and Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed their decision, the cottage industry surrounding the grand event was beginning to feel the effects as participants try to continue conducting business in these not-so-usual times. Here’s what’s happening in and around town as Hollywood gears up for its own version of March Madness.

This story first appeared in the March 19, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

AS NOT SEEN ON TV: The evening entertainment shows are adjusting their programming. While “Entertainment Tonight” will cover pre-Oscar parties, it has decided to pull the plug on coverage of the various beauty treatment suites, stationed at the Le Meridian, the Peninsula and other hotels all over town this week. It’s a blow to the companies who shell out thousands in the hope of scoring a celebrity and even the more coveted broadcast media. An “Extra” producer reported its crew will continue its coverage as planned, although the opening dates of many of the suites are so late in the week that they will likely be skipped for that reason. “Unless the [national] security code moves up past orange, we’re just going forward,” she said. As for “E!,” style director Elycia Rubin is limiting suite coverage to the Beauty Buffet at the Chateau Marmont for a simple reason: “We’ve done that story to death.”

COSTUME PARTY: “A great dress has an euphoric effect even in these grim times,” said emcee Anjelica Huston at the Fifth Annual Costume Designer’s Guild Awards Sunday night at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, during which Meryl Streep presented the Bulgari Career Achievement Award to Ann Roth, who’s nominated for an Oscar for “The Hours,” and Andy Garcia presented Dustin Hoffman with the Distinguished Actor award. “We all know that of all the elements in show business, costume design is what’s most important,” Streep said.

The winners were:

Television, Period/Fantasy: Jane Anderson, “American Dreams.”

Television, Contemporary: Laura Goldsmith, “Alias.”

Film, Contemporary: Wendy Chuck, “About Schmidt.”

Film, Period/Fantasy: Colleen Atwood, “Chicago.”

Commercials: Bobbie Mannix, T-On Line and Kym Barrett, Anti-Smoking.

Career Achievement in Television: Rita Riggs.

The President’s Award: Piero Tosi.

PAY TO PLAY: The rumors of big money changing hands in the Oscar fashion sweepstakes are more rampant than usual with the tallest tales coming from the jewelry industry. With all the big jewelry firms — and bitty ones, too — vying for the lobes, necks and arms of nominees and A-listers, many are apparently shelling out both rocks and dollars: it seems several actresses — even a few minor ones — are demanding compensation of up to a $150,000 to guarantee they’ll wear them during a TV segment this week.

Meanwhile, Joan Rivers, who will be dressed in gold by Arnold Scaasi, as reported, will be dripping in $5 million worth of Harry Winston jewels. Her stylist, Cary Fetman, in collaboration with Rivers and the Winston designers, created a 75-carat yellow diamond choker (representing the 75th anniversary of the Oscars) with three strands and an opera-length chain that wraps around six times forming a bib of multicolored diamonds.

TOI STORY: Although he’s been showing in New York for the past 13 years, Zang Toi had never been to Oscar week — until stylist Ricci DeMartino convinced him. Upon finding out, Toi fan Kelly Stone offered to host a poolside fashion show at her Sherman Oaks home on Sunday and drew Bobbi Brown, Oliver Peoples, Kwiat Diamonds and Tryna Kane jewelry.

DESIGNING DJ: “Sex and the City” costumer Rebecca Weinberg will make sure vinyl is in vogue this week when she spins in the Bacardi Lounge Thursday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Le Meridien hotel. It’s still a mystery as to what she will play — and wear — but to get to Los Angeles, she needed two airline tickets — one for her and one for her records.

MISSONI’S MISSION: Gerlinde Hobel, the Missoni family member charged with VIP dressing, didn’t hesitate to come to Los Angeles, but after listening to President Bush address the nation Monday and in the wake of cancellations by fellow Italians Giorgio Armani and Donatella Versace, she admitted, “I am a little worried about returning home to Paris, but I do feel safe in here.”

(Incidentally, 20-year-old Margharita Missoni had to cancel her trip to Hollywood after her mother, Angela Missoni, forbade her to come, as reported.)

At the Chateau Marmont, where Hobel is seeing clients this week, she was already experiencing the effect a war may have on the red carpet. “I have a client whose husband is nominated, who chose a pink dress, but now she would like a black dress in reserve,” she said. “I find it very sad because it’s like mourning. I would take a more positive attitude and maybe add a touch of black in recognition of the situation.”

Hobel has another reason to make her mark in Los Angeles: this year is Missoni’s 50th anniversary, and the house plans a Los Angeles celebration later in the year.

FENDI FEST: Wanting to show there’s more to Fendi than the baguette, the house has sent 23 of its vintage bags and 20 vintage gowns to its Rodeo Drive boutique and enlisted p.r. powerhouse PMK to get celebs to don them. Said creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi; “I knew I wanted to do something that included our history. An actor gets immortalized on the red carpet and immediately becomes a part of history — that’s why I wanted to give them a choice that could be extremely personal and not necessarily tied to a specific season.” So far, about half the inventory is loaned out, as are six dresses from its March 4 runway show. And in a more high tech Oscar effort, the house has collaborated with Sprint to custom-design a carrying bag for the new Sanyo SCP-5300 camera phone, given to 20 nominees. The bag retails for $350, the phone for $499, with one-year unlimited free service, worth another $850.

Of course, those on the red carpet may also have Motorola’s new camera phone in hand — the T722i — which comes with six free months of T-Mobile service.

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