Star Stuck

Angelenos know how to navigate the city when the award blitz hits.

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It often has been alleged that Los Angeles has no seasons. This is true only so far as most days can be described as “short-sleeve weather.” But any local will tell you that Los Angeles has three distinct seasons: Fire, Ants and Awards.

Of the three, the season that begins with the Emmy nominations, runs through the Golden Globes and ends with the Oscars is viewed with the greatest dread. Fires certainly are a problem, but most Angelenos don’t live in a canyon vulnerable to brushfire. When the ants render your kitchen unusable, you appreciate why there’s a donut shop on every corner. But from the September Emmy kickoff to the Oscar broadcast in March, Awards Season consumes the city, clogging arteries faster than, well, one of those donuts.

It’s important to remember that to residents of Los Angeles, an awards ceremony isn’t a single night, a TV diversion to watch on a Sunday evening while you fold laundry. Here on the ground, the awards ritual comprises the night of the ceremony plus the weeks leading up to it, during which time clothes are chosen and fitted, meetings are taken, people are flown in, photos are snapped, parties are attended and the daily nervous breakdowns are suffered as people realize there’s a chance they’ll rise to a higher level of power or lose the power they currently have, depending on what happens when the awards envelope (please) is opened. And if a Vogue cover or red-carpet breakout could hinge on a nominee getting the perfect pair of Louboutins, but there’s no parking in front of the Louboutins store, these people are going to double-park.

So during Awards Season, the wise local keeps a list of no-fly neighborhoods in her head.

West Hollywood, with its cluster of agents, managers, publicists, boutique hotels, shrinks and trainers, all of whom will determine their income for next year in these few months and all of whom are located on streets no thicker than an ingénue’s hips in pilot season, is a place to be visited only if you’re wondering how long your car can idle.

Beverly Hills has the big fancy hotels, but the awards season focus here is along the side streets — where the doctors are. While well-to-do out-of-towners traipse the high-end shops of Rodeo Drive, a couple blocks over on Bedford you’ll be locked in traffic behind swarms of paparazzi straining to get a shot of a celebrity slipping in to get something tucked, plumped or flattened.

The Microsoft Theater, where the Emmys are presented, isn’t in Hollywood. It’s downtown, far from where most people live or work, so traffic is less of an issue. It does, however, back up against the 110 Freeway. On the night of the Emmys, the 110 is what theologians have imagined Hell to be like. Locals know this has nothing to do with the Emmys. It’s always like this. It’s just the 110.

The savvy local will avoid Hollywood Boulevard during Oscar week because it is blocked off days ahead of the actual event. Locals also avoid it every other day of the year because it sucks. Recent studies have shown how a combination of jet lag, eating an entire box of See’s candy, having two more children than you can realistically supervise and inhaling hours of tour-bus exhaust have rendered the tourists on Hollywood Boulevard among the most stupid and unpredictable wildlife on our planet. The nightmare on Hollywood Boulevard knows no season.

But before you know it, it’s the second week of March, and Awards Season is over. The barriers have come down; stylists have gone back to wherever it is they are when it’s not awards season; and you have already forgotten who won Best Picture. Los Angeles is tolerable again. The sky is blue, the streets are traversable, the hills are not on fire and, yes, that is an ant on your arm. But the nearby donut shop with parking is under new ownership, and you’d been meaning to check it out anyway.

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