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New Kodak Theatre Hosts Academy Awards Ceremony - 2002-03-22

Sunday, the eyes of the world will turn to Hollywood, as the movie industry presents the annual Academy Awards, or Oscars. This year's presentation will take place at a newly built venue amid tight security, but organizers are promising all the usual glamour.

The new Kodak Theatre will host the 74th annual Academy Awards. It is part of a $600 million complex that includes a four-star hotel, a multi-screen cinema and shopping arcade.

Surrounding streets are blocked to all but those with tickets for the Oscars. And the 400 fans who fill the outside bleachers have all undergone background security checks.

But for Nicole Kidman, a first-time nominee for her starring role in the musical Moulin Rouge, the Oscar is about glamour and tradition. She expects both at this year's event.

"It has such a history. You see all the photos of these icons holding these gold statues through the years," she says. "I mean, I quite like traditions, so it's nice to be a part of it."

Other nominees for the Oscar for best actress are Halle Berry for Monster's Ball; Judi Dench for Iris, and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones's Diary.

Sissy Spacek is also a nominee for her role as a grieving mother in the drama In the Bedroom. The actress says she is pleased to be in such talented company.

"I can honestly say that the actresses that are nominated in my category, that it would be an honor to lose to any one of them because they're fabulous and talented and their performances are stellar," she says.

The most nominated picture year is the fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which has 13 nominations. This is first of three films from director Peter Jackson based on a series of books by British writer JRR Tolkien. Supporting actor Ian McKellen is nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the wizard Gandalf in the film.

Among contenders for the Oscar for best director, Ron Howard is a frontrunner for his film A Beautiful Mind. It is the story of a brilliant mathematician who struggles with mental illness.

The film's star, Russell Crowe, is hoping for a repeat performance of last year's Oscar win. Then, he won for his starring role in the epic Gladiator Now he's a nominee for his portrayal of the troubled mathematician.

Other nominees for the Oscar for best actor are Will Smith for his role as boxer Muhammad Ali in the film Ali; Denzel Washington forTraining Day; Sean Penn for I Am Sam; and Tom Wilkinson for In the Bedroom.

The new Kodak Theatre will hold 3,100 people for the Oscar presentation, far fewer than those who attended the event at another site last year. Officials of the motion picture academy, which presents the Oscars, say one billion people around the world will watch the show on television. And they say the new theater complex, which was designed for broadcast, will offer viewers at home a front-row seat for the Oscar ceremony.