Stars, fans converge on Hollywood for Oscar night

Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:32pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movie fans flocked to Hollywood on Sunday to watch the stars parade up the red carpet for the Oscars, the world's top film awards.

With rags-to-riches romance "Slumdog Millionaire" expected to win the honor for best movie, suspense at the gala ceremony has shifted to whether host Hugh Jackman and producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark ("Dreamgirls") can recapture a dwindling television audience with a showcase of top stars and films.

Expected at Hollywood's Kodak Theater where the 81st Academy Awards are being held are Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep and scores of other stars.

"I'm here to see Kate Winslet. I hope she wins," said Jessica Alfrey from Huntington Beach, California, who was among the fans who began gathering along the red carpet at early morning. "She's a great actress who has something about her that's very real."

Winslet is nominated for best actress in "The Reader."

Nearby a group of 10 people included Babe Churchill of Chino, California and Sandi Stratton of Escondido, who said they had been coming to the Oscars for 40 years.

They most wanted to see Brad Pitt, who is nominated for best actor in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and veteran Jerry Lewis who is picking up an honorary award.

Many around the world will be watching on television to see what Jackman will do. He who won a Tony award on Broadway for his work in "The Boy From Oz" as well as TV's Emmy award for hosting the stage world's Tony awards. He was brought in to the Oscars to help spruce up the show.   Continued...

<p>Actor Hugh Jackman attends the third annual "A Fine Romance" evening gala in Culver City, California October 20, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>