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A Night At The Oscars

ALEX COHEN, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Alex Cohen.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. It was the night when the stars come out, and so, we sent our star, Brian Unger, to the Oscars, and in spite of some questionable behavior there, he managed to avoid getting thrown out. Here's Brian with Today's Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: Here's the thing. We could have sat home and taken in this spectacle in our living rooms, watching it on television, getting our escapist entertainment that way, like most Americans. But since we're within such proximity to the Kodak Theater and the Oscar celebration, why not really shake off this economic malaise, put on our little penguin suits and go to the Oscars? Cue the music.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: With my erstwhile producer Steve Proffitt riding shotgun, we motor across Los Angeles to Hollywood and the Kodak Theater. And as we arrive, a group of protesters are gathered outside the event. They're carrying signs that say things like "Obama hates America" and "God hates America."

(Soundbite of traffic)

UNGER: Hey, what's going on there? Why does God hate America? Oh, nice. Heath Ledger in hell.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: Our green Oscar auto pass gets us passed several heavily fortified checkpoints. Hollywood Boulevard has become, for this moment, the green zone. We are greeted at the drop-off point by a phalanx of police in full battle gear.

(Soundbite of traffic)

UNGER: Hi. Good. How are you, sir?

Unidentified Policeman: Can you turn off the engine and roll down all your windows, please?

UNGER: Roll down all my windows? OK.

Unidentified Policewoman: And pop the trunk on.

UNGER: Excuse me?

Unidentified Policeman: Can you pop the trunk, please?

UNGER: Pop the trunk, OK.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: I would have cleaned my car had I known it would have been inspected like this. Here is what I learned the hard way. If you hold a ticket the Oscars ceremony, here is what you can't bring: any recording device of any kind. This poses a quandary for a radio reporter. So, acoustically naked, we make our way down the red carpet. I am mistaken for Steve Carrell several times, and I'm asked if I'm from Australia. Now, my impression? Imagine the passengers on the Titanic, well-heeled, coiffed and powdered - and that's just the men. Moments right before the ship hits the iceberg, that's sort of how it felt as we made our way into the theater and up to the mezzanine, where champagne and hors d'oeuvre are being served. What happened next was disturbing. Here is a dramatic re-enactment.

(Soundbite of recording)

UNGER: So, we are inside the Kodak Theater on level two, the pre-Oscar show cocktail party. I'm not drinking - that would be a journalistic no-no - and we are surreptitiously recording this...

Unidentified Man #1: Excuse me, sir. Are you recording?

UNGER: Let go of my arm.

Unidentified Man #1: Just get out.

UNGER: Ow!

(Soundbite of dramatic music)

UNGER: Once it was revealed that I was with National Public Radio and soon to be unemployed, the security police took pity on me and I was released on my own recognizance, and the Oscars went on without further incident, at least until we tried to get out of the parking garage.

(Soundbite of car doors closing)

UNGER: All right. Well, what a show. Overall, this year's Oscars were - in spite of everything, in spite of a terrible national economy - I thought it was a perfectly acceptable ceremony.

How do I get out of here?

Unidentified Man #2: Uh, last name?

UNGER: Unger as in Unger Report. You may have heard of me on National Public Radio? Have you heard it?

Unidentified Man #2: I haven't...

UNGER: Have you guys heard of it on NPR? Do you know what NPR is? OK, cool. I'm on it, and tomorrow, you will be, too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

UNGER: Thank you very much. We had a great time. Tell Hugh Jackman he was terrific.

(Soundbite of music)

UNGER: And that is today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: That police officer sounded suspiciously familiar. That's humor from the Unger Report every Monday on Day to Day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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