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"Elvis" dreams of walking Oscars red carpet

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, March 3 (Reuters) Impersonating a fat Elvis from the 1970s, Michael Romeo stood on Hollywood Boulevard in a white jumpsuit and cape and dreamed of walking the red carpet as an Oscar nominee.

With preparations for the Oscars in full flight -- the red carpet is laid, the bleachers are up and a block of the famed street is closed off -- Romeo yesterday lamented his business of posing as Elvis was suffering.

''This is costing me 100 million a day in lost money,'' said Romeo, who for three years has posed for snapshots with tourists on the heart of Hollywood Boulevard in return for tips.

But like many in Hollywood, he is an actor hoping for his big break.

''I am going to make it. I just need some new head shots, and an agent. Elvis needs an agent,'' he said, standing yards (metres) from where workers laid plastic sheeting to protect the red carpet, where Hollywood's biggest stars will walk after arriving for Sunday's 78th Academy Awards ceremony.

''I just need two good movies to take me from here to that red carpet,'' said Romeo, who has appeared as an extra in some films.

Heavy security was in evidence and access to the street was restricted. Hundreds of security guards are on hand and concrete blocks have been placed along the street to protect against truck bombs.

Inside a security command center, pictures hang of people to look out for, some labeled ''serial stalker, repeat offender,'' others ''trespasser, party crasher.'' Guards used mirrors to check for bombs underneath cars entering the parking lot beneath the theater where the show will be held.

Media have been told their official credentials carry ''significant responsibilities.'' A card given to journalists collecting their credentials warned that if one of the laminated badges fell into the wrong hands it could ''allow an individual with hostile intent to do immeasurable damage.'' Veteran reporters said it was the first time such a warning had been issued.

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