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And the Oscar Goes To...(Part 1)

This is my third year covering the Oscars, but my first Awards Season truly involved from start to finish with every red carpet, luncheon and after party. Plus the 3:00 am wake-up call for the Live Oscar Nominations announcement.

For me, finally being assigned to the Oscar Nominations announcement was a thrill. I'm not typically a morning person, but I always find it a little hard to sleep before Oscar nominations are announced because I'm so excited, so I've been setting an alarm to watch them read live since 2008. (Oh, it was so much easier to wake up for the ceremony when I was on the East Coast!) Basically, it's like Hollywood Christmas and I'm usually the bad kid sneaking downstairs to see my presents early. But the night before the ceremony this year, I was in bed asleep by 9:00 pm, which guaranteed me about 5 1/2 hours of sleep.

The greatest perk of the assignment came during the drive to the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater - no traffic! It only took 20 minutes to get from my apartment in The Valley to Beverly Hills, which is a miracle, considering the trip to get my credential for the nominations took an hour each way.

Camera crews covering the event can arrive as early as 3:00 am to be fully set up. By 5:00 am, this live announcement needs to get on the road, so all press are ushered back into the theater to take their designated places as the nominations are read.

Little secret: we're not just geniuses when it comes to tabulating all the fun facts & figures about the nominees (first-time nominees, who had the most nominations, etc). The Academy provides the press with a research packet of information on all the nominees to help us out. Thanks Academy!

By 7:00 am, all of the pomp and circumstance and excitement are over and the press shuffles the two blocks back to our cars. Then the real fun begins, with crews heading all over town to do reaction interviews with (somewhat) unsuspecting and incredibly excited newly minted nominees.

The next weeks are a mix of more award shows and parties, the official events of the "Oscars campaign". More and more do pundits stress the importance of showing your face to help get that award. So these tired celebs sure do show their faces. And all the press can do for about 6 weeks is talk about Oscar:

- What are you looking forward to about host Chris Rock?

- Have you picked out a dress?

- Who is your date?

- Did you ever imagine you'd be in this position today when you started acting? Etc.

One such event is the Oscar Nominee Luncheon and Class Photo. This is low-key event held at the Beverly Hilton featuring poolside interviews, a daytime red carpet and the first gathering of all the Oscar nominees for one photo that will live in perpetuity.

When I showed Bryan Cranston how the class photo turned out at an event later that night, he said that was the moment this all felt real for him. When your name is called and you're placed amongst these greats from every department of the industry, it really solidifies your place in history. It's a cool thing to watch, especially as you see these actors interact - for example, Leonardo DiCaprio is standing next to Alicia Vikander & Rooney Mara, just in front of The Weeknd!

This year's Oscars experience has a been a grueling whirlwind this year, from covering the Palm Springs Film Festival on January 1st to the pre-Oscar events that kicked off this week. This Sunday, my assignments is covering the Vanity Fair Oscar Party - the most star studded after party of the night. It's a 9 hour red carpet. Wish me luck!

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