One of Hollywood’s darkest, deepest secrets is that not every smiling face you see on TV when the camera pans the Oscar audience belongs to a famous actor, a behind-the-scenes big shot or even someone who knows one.
No, some of those people sitting there have nothing to do with the Oscars except sitting there. They are professional seat fillers, the people who show up dressed to kill and ready to sit the moment a star gets up to accept an award or go to the bathroom.
Their mission: Ensure that people watching the Oscar show at home never see an empty seat during the broadcast.
They arrived by the score outside the Kodak Theatre complex late this morning, all of them under orders not to reveal their true identities or even talk to anyone.
They included a woman who donned a pair of Ugg boots and wore a puffy down jacket over her aqua-blue evening dress as she picked her away around puddles in the parking lot left by the heavy rain. Another wore flip-flops but carried a pair of Jimmy Choos in a bag.
Rumor has it that many are employees of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or ABC, the network that broadcasts the Oscar show. One man did say he is a professional seat filler who owns a tux because he works numerous Hollywood shows.
‘‘I do this all the time,’’ he said.