Flickr photo by David Bueso
You'd think the SWAT snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs and legions of G-men chattering into their shirt cuffs would be enough to keep most sane people from trying to crash the Oscars. And of course, you'd be wrong.
But for gate crashers undeterred by potential criminal trespass charges and that teeny-tiny risk of getting shot, a bill proposed by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, is designed to throw the book at budding Salahi wannabes with the promise of jail time and a $1,000-plus fine.
"The Screen Actors Guild Awards show has been plagued with 'gate crashers' in recent years and they asked me to carry the bill for security reasons," Portantino said in a statement. "This bill sends a clear message: If you crash a private event, it’s going to cost you."
The bill, which passed the Senate Public Safety Commitee yesterday, closes up several loopholes in existing law that have let party crashers off the hook when they get caught. And yes, people do get caught: 19 at this year's Academy Awards alone.
As the bill analysis puts it:
"Due to a technical flaw contained in specific portions of existing California law relating to trespass, the Los Angeles City Attorney was not able to prosecute" several people arrested for crashing the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January.
"Penal Code Section 602 covers trespassing under numerous specific instances that specify the acts that constitute the crime of trespass. Because of how this code section is written, none of these definitions are adequate to uniformly support a charge of trespass for 'gate crashers.'"
In other words, if you break into a junkyard under cover of darkness, you're in trouble. If you crash the Oscars, maybe not.
Last year, the L.A. Times profiled Hollywood party crasher Scott Weiss, who described the rush of busting into the Oscars like this:
Scott Weiss could barely suppress his panic. Perspiration glued his tuxedo shirt to his back. The forged all-access badge and tiny digital camera hung like weights around his neck as he approached the loading dock entrance.
The theater at Hollywood and Highland crawled with local cops, high-priced security guards and federal agents: FBI, sheriff's deputies, LAPD bomb squad specialists and SWAT team snipers, all on high alert.
Weiss knew he could be charged with criminal trespassing – if he got caught.
But there in broad daylight, at last year's Oscars, while the eyes of the world were fixated on a massing constellation of stars on the red carpet, Weiss headed straight for the only entry point to the Academy Awards that did not have a computerized badge-checking device. A team of co-conspirators filmed Weiss' every move from the balcony of a nearby apartment building.
Approaching the entrance, he pretended to be engrossed in a cell phone conversation. He carried two notebooks containing fake call sheets. In his head, the bearded, slightly portly party crasher ran through the spiel he had concocted to explain his presence. He was sure a guard would question him at some point.
Just before the show started, Weiss wandered up to the guards, fighting nerves, expecting to be stopped. He stayed in character as a producer's assistant and walked right in, no questions asked.