HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A group of longtime Academy Awards fans won’t have their customary spot in the bleachers for Sunday’s Red Carpet arrivals after losing out in the lottery for those in-demand seats.
On Friday, CBS2’s Amy Johnson visited members of the group at their hotel in Hollywood, including Tina Hernandez, who flipped through the countless pictures of the stars she has taken while sitting in the coveted bleachers for three decades.
“My sister started encouraging me to go in ’85, so the year of ‘Out of Africa,'” Hernandez said.
The two would camp out year after year to get the front row seats.
“Eventually we were sleeping out as long as 10 days at the Dorothy Chandler (Pavilion) or the Shrine (Auditorium),” Hernandez said.
Through the years they started to make friends with the other regulars, like Ric Zamarripa.
“I started in 1976, when Jodi Foster was a little girl,” Zamarripa said. “I met her mom, and her.”
But in 1997 Zamarripa was struck by a car near the bleachers. Hernandez started a newsletter to let the others know how Zamarripa was doing, and the Oscar Chatter Fan Club was formed.
Each year the group of 25-30 would apply for bleacher seats and sit together, all wearing bright Oscar gold and yellow, and snapping photos of — and sometimes with — the biggest stars.
“To see these people that we’ve watched in movies and on TV for so many years, to see them in real life and have them wave at you,” Hernandez said. “For a brief moment you’re in their world.”
And the Oscar Chatter club had created their own world, coming together year after year from around the country and even Germany, staying at the same Hollywood hotel.
That was until a letter came announcing that last year was their last.
“Thank you, but we’re going to go another route this year, so I’m sorry,” Hernandez recalled the letter stating.
The group wasn’t given the tickets, they had to enter the lottery like everyone else, and they didn’t win.
This year only a few of the members have come to their regular hotel, where they plan to watch the ceremony on TV.
“We’re going to be able to hear them screaming,”Hernandez said. “That’s going to make a full-grown woman cry, because I should be up there being the one who is out there screaming. It’s going to be disappointing, there’s no question, but we have expected this to happen eventually. We were very, very fortunate to be able to get on the bleachers all these years.”