Strutting down the Oscar red carpet on Sunday may be out of the question. But thanks to Oscar Night America, a grass-roots program enabling local charities to host official viewing parties, those without a star on the Walk of Fame can enjoy the glamour of Hollywood's biggest night. Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gives USA TODAY's Rebecca Heslin the scoop on swank soirees across the USA.
Hilton Milwaukee City CenterMilwaukee Milwaukee's official viewing party knows no red carpet is complete without Joan Rivers. So the night benefiting COA Youth & Family Center programs even has an impersonator of the Queen of sassy fashion asking guests what they're wearing. "The event features a spectacular silent auction with autographed movie and television scripts, unique items from movie sets, including some from famous Milwaukeeans David and Jerry Zucker (Airplane) and Tom Miller (Happy Days)," Ganis says. 414-263-8383 ext. 114, www.coa-yfc.org
Cobb Energy Performing Arts CentreAtlanta After walking the red carpet at this viewing party benefiting the Center for Family Resources, stock up on raffle tickets for a chance to get VIP treatment at local spas, a weekend stay at The Mansion on Peachtree and more. "This year's live and silent auctions include items such as a Cartier watch, an official framed invitation from President Obama's inauguration, intro flight lessons, a hot-air balloon ride, and a one-week stay in a Tuscan villa," Ganis says. 770-428-2601, www.atlantaredcarpet.com
Omni San Antonio HotelSan Antonio Grab your black tie and boots for this party promoting the Special Olympics. "The night features a meet-and-greet with area Special Olympics athletes," Ganis says. Festivities include a silent auction and large-screen broadcast of the awards ceremony. 512-835-9873, www.specialolympicstexas.org
Hilton Netherland PlazaCincinnati "This annual event celebrates Cincinnati's native sons and daughters who have made it to the silver screen," Ganis says. "Think George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Doris Day, with celebrity look-alikes and top-notch local entertainment." As in Hollywood, things heat up once the awards have been handed out. Try your hand at Wii and get ready for your photo booth close-up at the after-party, also benefiting People Working Cooperatively, a local charity dedicated to assisting low-income, elderly and disabled people with home repairs. 513-351-7921, www.pwchomerepairs.org
Gene Siskel Film CenterChicago "Chicago hosts one of the more exclusive parties that always sells out," Ganis says. Guests truly feel like celebrities as they pass "paparazzi" snapping their pictures and asking questions on the red carpet. Once inside, film fans watch the Oscar presentation live on large high-definition movie screens. To thank partygoers for supporting the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Film Center, guests take home the same programs that Oscar-goers get in L.A. 312-846-2072, www.siskelfilmcenter.org