Stars Take on Oscar in Armored Style

Posted on April 3, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

LOS ANGELES — The approximately 600 limousines and sedans that shuttled Hollywood stars to the 75th annual Academy Awards included several armored vehicles, according to one operator.

Empire International, one of the largest limousine caterers to the stars and the official car company for the Oscars, sent 148 cars to this year’s festivities, Robert Partovi, executive vice president West, told LCT magazine.

Eight of those were Level 1 and Level 3 protection sedans, he noted. “Last year we had none [at the Oscars].”

Level 1 cars feature run-flat tires, allowing them to travel 50 miles on punctured tires, and shatter-guard side windows, he said. Level 3 cars are built by Mercedes and have half-inch-thick glass that would sustain a shot from a 44-caliber handgun, Partovi added. They also have run-flat tires and their floors would withstand a moderate bomb explosion from underneath. In addition, Level 3 cars have a supply of oxygen in case of a chemical or biological attack, he added.

Aside from the presence of armored cars, the most requested Oscar-night vehicle, as always, was a black corporate sedan, Partovi said. However, a few stars, including Cameron Diaz, Meryl Streep, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, made a statement by arriving in Toyota Hybrid cars.

Security checkpoints were doubled from last year, Partovi said, even though security already had been toughened up after Sept. 11. In addition, police officers were on every corner and rooftop in the secure area surrounding the Kodak Theater.

Last year, Partovi said he had to submit the names of his chauffeurs prior to the event, but was exempt from doing so this year since their names were already on file.

All limousines went through three checkpoints within a four- block area, Partovi said. The cars were searched inside and out and passengers and drivers identified. The stars had to show their faces and credentials to security personnel at the last checkpoint before they were allowed to enter the theater.

Moving through the checkpoints, Partovi added, took up to an hour, but none of his clients complained, knowing their security was the goal.

Once the cars entered the secure, closed-off area of about 10 blocks surrounding the Kodak Theater they were not allowed outside that perimeter until it was time for their clients to leave.

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