Oscars red carpet: The stars, the dresses -- and two more inches
The Academy Awards red carpet is, for many folks at home, all about the dresses. And, yes, you've come to the right place to see photos of all the glamorous looks.
For the folks on the scene in Hollywood, fans and media alike, it's a little more complicated. The fans who got bleacher seats arrived Sunday morning feeling lucky, but by early afternoon -- after hours of staring into the sun and waiting for anything resembling Tinseltown glam -- they were getting a bit punchy.
When a squadron of waiters in pressed shirts whisked past the crowd at 2 p.m. they began the first passionate chant of the red carpet: "Food! FOOD! Food!"
With the red carpet officially on lockdown, a number of entertainment hosts -- Giuliana Rancic, Lara Spencer and Maria Menunos -- took the opportunity to pose for the cameras before the "real" celebrities arrived.
But Mario Lopez of "Extra" -- who was standing next to us on the red carpet -- took the free time to prep for his interviews. He flipped through a handful of index cards filled with questions his producers had written out for him. He pulled out a plastic Target bag he had filled with cashews, a protein muffin, a banana and energy juice. "I get hungry!" he said with a smile. "Want some nuts?"
Meanwhile, the media along the carpet were so jammed in they were elbow to camera lens, and notebook to back. Relief is rare, so it was an odd moment when, at 2:22 p.m., a production assistant named Geoffrey Doleman, wearing a tux and beat-up sneakers, stopped on the carpet, got down on a knee and checked out the actual size of the press pen with a tape measure.
As photogs from Getty images and reporters from Armed Forces Radio and the Los Angeles Times watched with curiousity, he explained: "Your area is supposed to be 4 feet -- you only get 4 feet, but we can't give you less," he said.
Then he instructed a crewman to move the shiny barricade 2 inches toward the center of the carpet. "All good."
Stay tuned to the Ministry of Gossip as we bring you tons of photos from the red carpet -- as we did last year -- plus interviews and more.
Oscars 2012: All eyes on Billy Crystal, Sacha Baron Cohen and, yes, nominees
-- Geoff Boucher and Amy Kaufman
Photos: Oscar statues are seen on the red carpet before the 84th Annual Academy Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood on Sunday. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images