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Modestan breaks bread with glitterati

Modesto resident and new Academy Award nominee Mike Glad hobnobbed with Hollywood's elite Monday at the Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon.

All the nominees were invited to an annual luncheon to meet and greet one another before the big show Feb. 25. Glad, who produced and co-wrote the nominated short documentary "A Recycled Life," and his director/co-writer Leslie Iwerks were among 140 nominees who attended the gala at the Beverly Hilton.

The 59-year-old Glad, who owns 22 Midas auto-repair shops throughout the Bay Area and Central Valley, said that when he walked into the room, one flashbulb went off. But entering right behind him was fellow nominee Clint Eastwood.

"Then you were just blinded by the light," he said.

Glad was seated at the same table as Steven Spielberg and past Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Robert Rehme.

Glad said Spielberg kept checking his watch because he had to catch a 3:15 p.m. plane to Beijing. Rehme encouraged him to relax and said, "Steven, don't you own the plane?"

The nominees also posed for a group shot. Glad was in the back row, center, standing one person away from best-actor nominee Forest Whitaker. Glad said he made sure to shake Peter O'Toole's hand. He was excited to be surrounded by the stars — including Will Smith, Helen Mirren and Leonardo DiCaprio — but also to meet the behind-the-scenes technical nominees who represent the best in their fields.

"The enthusiasm all the nominees have for the other nominees was quite moving," he said. "Everyone cheers when they call your name out. It's pretty humbling or certainly amazing to be in the same room with so many fantastic filmmakers."

Glad said he will travel to Los Angeles the weekend of the awards with his wife, son and several family friends. He already has his tuxedo picked out. And he is working on a possible acceptance speech. At the luncheon, the Academy gave all the nominees a recorder with 45 seconds of tape to practice their speeches.

"I don't think you should prepare for failure; you should prepare for success," he said. "If we win the Oscar, the most important thing would be to say how we feel. And the truth is, why me? How could you not be humble when the other filmmakers there and their films are so good?"