Hollywood Insiders Brace for Wet, Chilly Oscar Weekend

As stars, executives and revelers refresh their phones to get the latest forecast, others are not altering their Oscar weekend event plans — or their outfits. Says double nominee Mary J. Blige: "There could be a blizzard. I’m still gonna do what I’m doing.”
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Just before 9 a.m. on Thursday, more than a dozen vest-clad production staffers — all with walkie talkies in hand and sunglasses on head — could be seen walking Lot 1 North just off of the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, the site of Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards ceremony. The massive white tent was up and ready to host 1,300 guests, and while the sun was shining down from clear skies, a couple of ominous signs could be seen inside the credentials tent.

A female Spirit Awards staffer sported a winter coat accessorized by a tightly wound yellow infinity scarf as temperatures hovered around 50 degrees. Over her shoulder, a piece of white paper was taped to the structure wall, held up by neon-green tape, to advertise the 10-day forecast. There's the dilemma: A high of 57 degrees is projected for Saturday with precipitation chances coming in at 70 percent, which together could produce a chilly and wet indie-film love fest. According to a Spirit Awards rep, event organizers are preparing by installing a subfloor for the arrivals carpet as well as clear walls to let in natural light. Additionally, an HVAC system has been installed to provide additional heat in the main tent for guests, while escorts will be armed with umbrellas to usher talent from arrivals to the carpet as well as the main tent.

According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for Los Angeles doesn't look any better, with a 100 percent chance of rain for Friday (with a high near 61 degrees), with rain expected to taper off in time for Sunday's telecast, with a zero percent chance of precipitation on Sunday as more than 3,400 guests descend upon the Dolby Theatre for the 90th Academy Awards ceremony. And it won't be hot: A high of 60 degrees and low of 40 degrees is expected for Sunday.

The Hollywood Reporter reached out to a dozen event insiders ahead of this weekend's crush of Oscar-related parties. Many of those reported minor upgrades in terms of heat lamps, tenting and umbrella supplies. According to a source, the Cadillac Oscar Celebration at Chateau Marmont on Thursday night will have a tented driveway with extra heaters. Further, organizers have opted to have a coat check since many revelers may arrive bundled up.

At the WME-IMG event on Friday night at a private residence, guests can expect to see additional tenting to cover walkways that could be exposed to precipitation. Also added: weather mats, subflooring, heat lamps and additional valet attendants, with umbrellas.

At Sunday's Elton John AIDS Foundation 26th Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party, organizers are said to have taken additional steps to provide extra tenting in case rain does threaten the festivities.

But not everyone is bracing for the elements. One A-list stylist tells THR that none of her famous clients are altering their ensembles. Same for double nominee Mary J. Blige: "There could be a blizzard," she says. "I’m still gonna do what I’m doing.”

Oscar presenter Tiffany Haddish says with a smile that she's ever-ready. "I’m always carrying a jacket," she adds. "I don’t know if you’ve noticed how I dress, but I try to stay semi-conservative — I just show my sternum.” 

Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, it's hardly the worst climate the Oscar ceremony has ever faced. In 1938, the Oscars were postponed a week due to the Los Angeles Flood of 1938, which inundated the city from Feb. 27 to March 4, killing over 100 people and causing an estimated $70 million in damage. The ceremony has only been postponed two other times since, in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 and the attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

In 1949, snow threatened the ceremony, Mason Wiley and Damien Bona wrote in their book Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards, but the show went on. According to Wiley and Bona, "The nearest parking lot was several blocks away, so Hollywood's elite parked their cars and then rode in Academy-provided limousines to the theater."

In recent years, too, organizers have gotten creative in dealing with inclement weather. In 2014, press on the red carpet shielded their formal wear and cameras with wide umbrellas, and while facing a deluge in 2015, staff wearing plastic ponchos helped guests disembark from their cars with massive black umbrellas. Staff also used long, squeegee-like poles to catch rain on the main tent, while the red carpet's traditional giant Oscar statues were covered in plastic. Still, water pooled on the red carpet. Last year, the walkway into the theater was tented from the vehicle drop-off in case of rain.

This weekend's forecast is nothing, moreover, compared to what California residents have been dealing these past few months. In early January, one month after the devastating Thomas Fire, a major winter storm set off widespread mudslides and debris flows, destroying dozens of homes and leading to 20 fatalities. February delivered freezing temperatures in some areas of California, including San Francisco, whereas in the Los Angeles area, overnight temperatures averaged in the 40-degree range. 

The Oscars, to be held at the Dolby Theatre and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air on ABC at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

Additional reporting by Carita Rizzo