When it was built by the Shriners back in 1906 (and rebuilt in 1920 after a fire) the world-famous Shrine Auditorium was the largest indoor auditorium in the world, with almost 6,500 seats. It is still one of the largest such theatres in America, and that sheer size is what has made the Shrine the preferred venue for Hollywood's most important awards shows, including long runs of both the Oscars and the Emmys Awards.
The appeal certainly didn't lie with the Shrine's location. Situated in a rough neighborhood (the northern edge of South Central) across the street from the U.S.C. campus, (near Exposition Park), it is quite clear that your not in Beverly Hills anymore.
The Academy Awards show was first presented at the Shrine back in 1947, and along with the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center (in downtown), hosted the show for decades.
Likewise, the annual Emmy Awards were held the Shrine for 10-years straight (from 1997 to 2007).
Over the years the Shrine has also hosted a variety of other dazzling award shows, including the Grammy Awards, the MTV Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Soul Train Music Awards, the American Comedy Awards, and others.
But in the 2000's, the Shrine fell from grace with the two biggest award shows, as newer venues came on the scene to offer fresher locations. The Oscars moved to their permanent home at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, while the Emmy's moved to the new Nokia Theatre in downtown. (And it's rumored that the Grammys may also move to the Nokia.)
The Shrine was also home to HBO Comic Relief (with hosts Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg) and the occasional gala movie premiere, such as the 1996 premiere of the film version of "Evita" (starring Madonna).
From the outside, the Shrine Auditorium resembles an exotic Arabian mosque from ages past, or some west coast Taj Mahal, replete with white Persian domes and Moorish arches. Inside, it is a lush, old-fashioned opera house, with red velvet seats and tiered balconies overlooking its cavernous interior.
unusual architecture (inside and out) has made it a favorite movie location.
The Shrine has been seen in the original "King Kong" (1933,
with Fay Wray),
the 1954 version of "A Star is Born" (starring Judy Garland),
"The Turning Point" (1977, starring Shirley MacLaine
and Anne Bancroft),
the 1988 comedy "Foul Play" (with Goldie
Hawn and Chevy Chase),
(1992, starring Val Kilmer
as Jim Morrison), and many others.
And years ago, Michael
Jackson was filming a Pepsi commercial
on stage here at the Shrine when his hair caught on fire, sending him to
[You can see a seating chart of the Shrine online here.]
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