AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The real draw, however, is Oscar No. 3114, 8 pounds of gold-plated britannia metal. While the exhibitors won’t say which category – and certainly not which winner – will end up with the 13-inch knight, after it’s cleaned up and readied for action Saturday, it will go home with a winner the next evening. “I’m almost speechless,” said Jerry Emerick, a Sacramento real estate investor visiting town with his wife, Christina. “What a ride! I wanna thank the director and, of course, my wife, who’s been so supportive of me all the way.” Mugging for the cameras, Emerick imagined himself as best actor, waving to Christina as she photographed him. A devoted film aficionado, she’d tried to get bleacher tickets to watch the red-carpet arrivals two years ago, failed and vowed to come back one day to get close to an Oscar. Wednesday morning, she got her wish. Not all attendees were so reverent in their mock acceptance speeches. “I’d like to thank God; the devil, because he never gets enough credit at times like this; my lovely wife, Melissa; and all the little people,” said Eitan Dvir, a Web programmer from Brooklyn honeymooning with his physician wife. “Today, I’m Best Supporting Actor, since I’m a married man now. … I think this statue might have magical powers.” HOLLYWOOD – For half a minute, Cozean Merrett was no longer an art student. With a modest smile, he gripped his Oscar and nodded to his adoring public. He was a movie star, baby. “I’d like to thank everyone who’s here for me tonight, for all your support,” the 55-year-old Panorama City resident said, the shimmering statue confidently clutched and held chest level for his fans to admire. “Tonight, everyone knows that I am the best kung-fu fighter in the world. If Bruce Lee were here, he’d take this home, but tonight, it’s mine. But this is for you, big man, this is for you.” The crowd ate it up, the cameras flashed like crazy. CNN rolled tape and Merrett nodded with a cool confidence. Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hasn’t seen fit to devote an entire category to best actor in a kung fu film just yet, that didn’t matter to the heavyset man standing at the podium, paying tribute to his martial arts idol. Just like Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and Halle Berry, Merrett had his hands on a real, actual Academy Award. Such was the scene that unfolded Wednesday morning, a few hundred yards from where the real deal will go down Sunday night at the 78th Annual Academy Awards. Part of the academy’s attempts to put a human face to an event normally reserved for zillionaires and beautiful people, the “Meet the Oscars” exhibit displays 50 of the historic figurines alongside memorabilia and photographs of past awards-night glories. In a way, it did. With a crowd massed on a red carpet outside, decades of Hollywood history in the room and journalists from around the world quizzing the visitors like they were real film royalty, those who cradled the little figure forgot their lives, if only for 30 seconds. “It would be awesome to say, ‘I held that before someone famous took it home,”‘ mused Janice Chang, an English teacher from La Mirada who dabbled in theater in college and had a speech ready to thank members of the Academy, friends and family for her supposed Best Actress award. “It’s pretty exciting, just being a regular person.” For 3-year-old Westin Kanow, the excitement proved too much to bear. Running his hands across Oscar’s base, the only part he could reach, he begged his mother not to take him away from the flash of the cameras and the laughter of his newfound fans. “We just moved here from Arizona, so this is something to send pictures home about,” said his mom, Carynn, a Valencia homemaker. “We’ve got to show them just how close we really are.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] IF YOU GO What: Meet the Oscars When: Today, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m Where: Hollywood & Highland Center, third level, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood Price: Free 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!