February 05, 2002 10:02 AM

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is making it that much more difficult for stargazers to catch a glimpse of Russell Crowe. On Monday, organizers of Hollywood’s biggest night, the March 24 Academy Awards, said that those who wish to sit in the bleachers outside the Kodak Theater on Oscar night will have to apply in advance for their seats, reports Reuters. This means farewell to the time-honored tradition of camping out on the sidewalk for the best view of celebrities. Obviously, this shift is taking place in the name of safety for all of those involved. “Certainly heightened awareness of security is part of everybody’s everyday routine,” Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger told the news service. “But even without Sept. 11, our move to a new facility, in a much denser environment, would have inclined us to handle this differently.” After years of holding the Oscars alternately at the Los Angeles Music Center or else at the Shrine Auditorium (both in downtown L.A.), the Academy finally is opening a theater of its own, as part of a new $615 million complex in Hollywood. As such, there are only 400 seats available in the bleachers, and they will go, according to the Academy, to those who fill out application forms, pass background checks and obtain a photo ID badges. Applications for bleacher seats will be available starting Wednesday of this week (through March 1) over the Academy’s Web site or via phone.

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