What’s Literally Underfoot at the Oscars, or The Secrets of the Red Carpet, Revealed

Photo by Root FileSystem (CC BY-SA 2.0)

At The Los Angeles Times, Daniel Miller goes behind the scenes to report on the famed red carpet that graces the entrance to the Oscars. What you learn about the care, installation, and true color of this 50,000 square foot rug may just surprise you.

A red carpet made its debut at the Oscars in 1961 and has since become an integral part of the spectacle, whose pre-show extravaganza is widely viewed by fans tuning in to check out stars’ fashion hits and misses.

The unique nature of the Academy Awards extends to its carpet: It isn’t even a traditional red.

Instead, the carpet is closer to burgundy and has been for the last 15 years. The exclusive shade — called Academy Red — is supposed to flatter the A-list actors who are photographed and filmed walking on it. It’s a secret color, one whose precise specifications the show’s organizers won’t reveal for fear of copycats.

“Listen, there is only one Academy Awards,” said Joe Lewis, an associate producer of the arrivals and pre-show portion of the Oscars. “Some things that make the Academy Awards the Academy Awards should be proprietary.”

The secrecy surrounding the carpet illustrates the exacting nature of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the annual awards show. And it’s just one quirk of the custom carpet.

A crew of about 18 workers began installing the red carpet along Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Dolby on Feb. 21. It will take them nearly 900 man-hours to install the carpet, and the work won’t be finished until just before the stars begin arriving Sunday afternoon — as throngs of foreign tourists, street performers in superhero costumes and edgy security guards look on.

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