The Red Carpet Calls For Two Rice Students

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Asking questions on the Oscars' red carpet is not quite as glamorous as getting asked questions on the Oscars' red carpet, but two students from Rice are hoping fervently they get the chance.

The team of Faheem Ahmed and Anish Patel (hopeful correspondent and cameraman, respectively) is among the top three finalists in The 2009 mtvU Oscars® Correspondent contest, a contest hosted jointly by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as mtvU, MTV's college network.

If voted as the winners, they will be on the red carpet at the 81st Academy Awards to interview arrivals as well as given the credentials for access to the backstage press rooms and the Governors Ball.

Upon reading the advertisement for the contest, Ahmed said he thought to himself, "'This is like a dream come true!' I've always wanted to do some form of broadcast journalism."


Both students are a part of the Rice/Baylor College of Medicine Medical Scholars Program, a competitive program in which the students will study at Rice, then Baylor, four years at each. A senior majoring in sociology, Ahmed writes for the Rice Thresher and created Rice Sketch Comedy, of which he directs, writes, and films his own sketches while Patel (who's studying cognitive neuroscience) helps do the camera work as part of their continued pursuit in broadcast journalism.

(From studying cognitive neuroscience to interviewing celebrities: the typical career path.)

Ahmed called Patel, and with the help of various Rice students to make a few short improv. sketches, their entry video was born.

"It's all improv, and I think that actually worked in our favor," Ahmed said. Patel told Hair Balls their main strength lies in their improvisation skills and quick wit.   

Ahmed and Patel have been watching the Oscars® religiously since they were little.  
Sneaking into R-rated movies with his older brothers and getting his traditional "Coke and Bunch-a-Crunch" was one of Ahmed's favorite past-times growing up.

"Movies are probably my biggest hobby," he said, "It's almost depressing."

The team both would love to interview the cast of Slumdog Millionaire, but specifically, Freida Pinto for Ahmed because, and I quote, "she's really hot." Patel said it is so rare to see Indian mainstream actors break into Hollywood. He is a big Christian Bale fan, and Ahmed would love to interview Edward Norton because of his versatility as an actor.

Rice students have shown great support, Patel said, and there's even a Facebook event dedicated to getting them on that red carpet, titled "You sent Faheem and Anish to L.A.! Now Send Them to the Red Carpet!!" to which 550 and counting have "confirmed attendance."

Taking more of a "show and tell" approach rather than an "online resume," their video is a parody of how interviewing celebrities like Tom Cruise and Britney Spears at the Oscars could be. Along with the two other less light-hearted entries, their video is posted for public viewing and voting online, now through 5:00 PM ET on February 20th here.

"It was really hard to find the pole to act as Paris Hilton," said Patel.
 
Apparently, it was a difficult interview.

"She wouldn't respond to any of my questions," Ahmed complained.

-- Melanie Pang

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