Rachel Zegler, star of ‘West Side Story’, gets invited to the Oscars after complaining on Instagram

At just 5’7″ tall, Steven Spielberg has a colossal gravitational pull on Hollywood. This was clear a few weeks ago, during the dinner of the nominees for the Oscars. Actors, actresses, producers and technicians approached the legendary director to greet you, ask you a question or take a picture. Not everyone who works with the winner of three statuettes, who will look for his fourth prize on Sunday night, they have the same luck. Rachel Zegler knew it, the Maria of Spielberg’s version of the musical West Side Story, who was not invited to the gala. After a controversy on social networks, the young actress and singer has been incorporated into the ceremony as a presenter. The figure of Zegler, who is not nominated, has been overshadowed by that of her partner Ariana DeBose, who won the Golden Globe and the Bafta and is the great favorite in the category of supporting actress. It is usual for filmmakers not nominated to have a reserved seat among the seats of the Dolby theater, if their participation is relevant in the Oscar candidate for best film. In 2019, for example, the actress Marina de Tavira, star of Rome, paraded with the nominee Yalitza Aparicio. Inside the theater there were also actors who had brief roles such as sighs in the Alfonso Cuarón drama distributed by Netflix.

Zegler has found that the awards are one of the most exclusive events in Los Angeles, even for rising celebrities like her. On Sunday, a follower of the interpreter, with Polish and Colombian roots, asked her on Instagram what dress she would wear at the ceremony. “I’m not invited, so sweatpants and a flannel [camiseta] from my boyfriend,” replied Zegler, who is involved in London in a new version of Snow White for Disney. The logistical oversight with the protagonist of a film nominated for seven Academy Awards went viral in a short time. “Thank you for the surprise and outrage,” Zegler said after the storm. “I’m disappointed too, but it’s okay. I am proud of the film,” she added in a later message.

A publicist who knows the work of the Oscar campaigns, who prefers not to reveal his name to speak freely, considers that the actress’s “tantrum” could have been handled out of focus and have achieved the same result through an internal petition at Disney , the media giant that owns 20th Century Fox, the studio that produced the remake of the musical.

The Academy invites the nominees each year, who can attend the gala with a companion. This year there are 230 applicants in 23 categories. Even those filmmakers with multiple nominations, for example director Jane Campion (screenplay, direction, best film), are entitled to two tickets for each category (the New Zealander would therefore have six). The organizers also distribute them to members of the productions and studio executives. Depending on the number of nominations, the big favorites can win between 40 and 60 tickets for the big night in Hollywood. Disney, thanks to many of the subsidiaries it controls, such as Searchlight and Pixar, is entitled to dozens of entries for its nominees: West Side Story, Nightmare Alley: The Alley of Lost Souls, Luca, Charm, Tammy Faye’s eyes. The company has remained silent on the actress controversy.

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This year’s ceremony, however, is marked by a bigger problem. Forced by the ABC network, which broadcasts the awards, the Academy modified the structure of the event to make the direct more agile. Eight prizes will be distributed one hour before the broadcast begins, which has caused the rejection of many professionals, who consider that the change creates a division between first and second category prizes. A producer who is among the contenders for Best Animated Short assures that this year they received 12 tickets for the ceremony. The nominees in this category received in past years, on average, about eight. The gesture of generosity can be interpreted as guilt for an event that has aroused a desire to protest. Jessica Chastain, one of the favorites for the Oscar for best actress, has said that she will not walk the red carpet because she will be inside the theater supporting the Hair and Makeup nominees for her film, Tammy Faye’s eyes.

Limited capacity and vaccines

The Dolby Theater has a capacity of 3,300 people. This Sunday marks the return of the ceremony to what has been the home of the awards since 2001. Last year, the Oscars were held at the Union Station train station, on a night limited by the pandemic. The venue will not be 100% filled for this gala. Only between 2,500 and 2,600 seats will be assigned to maintain social distance. The Academy follows the health rules adopted by the industry and the actors’ union, which require attendees three vaccines against covid (including the booster) and two negative PCR tests, one of these on the same date as the gala.

Some 800 tickets were available for nominees and presenters in previous editions. The rest was distributed among guests from the ABC network, sponsors, employees of the Academy, fifty positions in the organization (which has the functions of a board of directors) and some external guests, including politicians and donors of the new Museum of movies. In addition, between 500 and 800 tickets were raffled among members of the Academy, which has grown from 3,000 members to almost 10,000 in three years. That distribution was not carried out this year so as not to saturate the theater. Getting a ticket has become a dream for many artists. Latina actress Rosie Perez confessed her frustration last year to Variety: hasn’t attended a ceremony since 1994, when she was nominated for without fear of life (Fearless).

Much has happened since the first ceremony, held with 250 people in the Blossom Ballroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across the street from the Dolby, on Hollywood Boulevard. Admission then, in May 1929, cost $10. The Academy sells a handful of tickets each year for the event. The most expensive, in the area of ​​the orchestra, exceed 700 dollars (636 euros), while the cheapest can be purchased for 150 dollars to sit on the upper floors, along with journalists, publicists, agents and other members of the audience. that they could well see it from the comfort of home.

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Rachel Zegler, star of ‘West Side Story’, gets invited to the Oscars after complaining on Instagram