They came from the far reaches of the world and from just down the street, film fans toting crammed coolers and extra clothes for when the sun set, waiting and then waiting some more to catch a glimpse of a star at the Academy Awards.

Oscar's fans, numbering more than 3,000, began lining up Tuesday afternoon for choice bleacher seats outside the Shrine Auditorium, hoping to see at least one of the 87 stars and near-stars - the largest assembly of screen celebrities ever - expected to participate in the 61st annual Academy Awards ceremonies."I hope we see Cher," said Paula Menzies, 24, a vacationing New Zealander who wore a leather bikini top and shorts to sit in the sun and wait for the stars. "She can't possibly top that black flimsy thing she wore last year."

Her friend, Paula Turnbull, said she and Menzies were in their bleacher seats at 7 a.m.

"We just decided to be really crazy today," Turnbull said. "We're never seen the stars. We don't get them in New Zealand."

Tony Prieto, a 21-year-old UCLA student from Linden, N.J., said he brought his visting girlfriend, a computer operator from Plainfield, N.J., to stake out their positions just before midnight Tuesday.

"I'm trying to show her the Hollywoodish things, and this is about as Hollywood as you can get," said Prieto, as his girlfriend, Michelle Barbarotta, 21, caught a quick nap under a blanket next to him. "It's better than Disneyland."

"My little grandson just loves Patrick Swayze and I just wanted to get a picture of him," said Betty Clayton of Garden Grove, Calif., who read supermarket tabloid stories about the stars while she waited.