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Dispatches from the Kodak

February 22, 2009 |  2:09 pm


9:25 p.m. About those protests...

Turns out the remarks about Oscars protesters Sean Penn made during his acceptance speech were aimed at the smattering of protesters on the corner of Sunset and Highland, which would have been visible to him as he arrived in his limo. Asked what he would say to the protesters in the press room, Penn said: "I'd tell them to turn in their hate card and find their better selves. These are largely taught limitations and ignorances. It's very sad in a way because it's a demonstration of such emotional cowardice, not extending rights to your fellow man that you want for yourself." --CL

9:18 p.m. Good times had by all

After the show, the backstage area cleared out in no time and a crowd converged on Hugh Jackman's dressing room to congratulate him. The producers for "Milk" gushed to Laurence Mark, "Genius! Genius! It was so beautiful. Everything about it from the look to the seating..."

By well past 9 p.m., the stage was still crowded with "Slumdog Millionaire" filmmakers and cast and well wishers. "Thank you so much for coming," one "Slumdog" producer said to two of the youngest cast members, two children who had traveled from India. "I'm Paul, the executive producer. Do you know what that is?"

One child nodded. "Well, you'll have to tell me sometime what that means," Paul replied. --GP

9:07 p.m. Great actors

Robert De Niro's eyes looked wet with emotion as he embraced Sean Penn after his win backstage. Penn himself was trembling and when he was asked to speak to a backstage camera crew, he declined with a weak but genuine smile. "My voice is a little shaky. So, no." De Niro, Ben Kingsley and Adrien Brody stood near him. "Good speech," said Brody. --GP

8:56 p.m. Popular choice

Big cheering and hi-fives in the bar for "Slumdog's" win. --RR

8:48 p.m. Someone's gotta lose

Evan Rachel Wood stormed out of the bar after Mickey Rourke lost best actor. --RR

8:45 p.m. Walking on air

Kate Winslet seemed to float off the stage totally stunned after her lead actress win. She embraced co-producer Laurence Mark first. Then asked for some water. "That was so brilliant! Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! I can't believe it! Does that make sense?" --GP

8:33 p.m. Best actresses

Sophia Loren held hands with Shirley Maclaine and kept a hand on her shoulder as the two former best-actress winners waited to go on to present this year's trophy. By comparison, last year's winner Marion Cotillard looked like a schoolgirl. When Reese Witherspoon announced Danny Boyle as best director, Cotillard beamed and applauded. "Wow!" exclaimed co-producer Laurence Mark after Boyle praised the telecast as "wonderful." --GP

8:28 p.m. Star meets crew

Penelope Cruz, her trophy balanced on her left hip as she paused to share a moment with her "Elegy" co-star Ben Kingsley, caused a major backup in the hall between commercial breaks. "We've got a show to do everybody," one crew member said pushing through. --GP

8:25 p.m. Overheard in the bar

Documentary maker/Elizabeth Shue lookalike to Seth Rogen: "I want to thank you for making me laugh before I lost."

8:19 p.m. One-shoe Keys

As the stage manager counted down the timing, Alicia Keys strode purposefully to the stage. There was a crack and she looked down to see that she'd left behind one of her stiletto heels on the carpet. "No!" And the count went on "five, four, three..." A quick confab of talent handlers agreed there was no time to fix it. "Take her shoe off," one said. Keys slipped off the broken shoe and kept moving. She'd go on with just one shoe. --GP

8:16 p.m. Energy

An ocean of orange silk threatened to engulf everyone backstage as crew members pulled the yards and yards of fabric offstage, stuffed it in a bin and whisked it away. These moments reminded everyone of the sheer adrenaline of the live show. --GP

8:12 p.m. Shocker, Part 2

Big press room gasp when "Waltz With Bashir" didn't win best foreign film. --GB

8:08 p.m. Secret, secret, he's got a secret

One person who came to the Oscars with a wink and a smile this year was Kunio Kato of Japan, winner of the best animated short, who punctuated his on-air acceptance speech with a line from a 1983 Styx hit -- "Domo arigato, Mr Roboto!" -- and then came to the press room with a translator and announced that the most exciting part of his Hollywood adventure this week was meeting Jack Black. "He always wanted to be funny like him," the translator said next to the deadpan Kato. --GB

7:58 p.m. High school crush

Vanessa Hudgens is drinking Diet Coke from a can, lest we wonder. No need to call security. She scampers across the bar to stand right in front of the TV screen as Zac comes on to present an award.


7:53 p.m. Tattooed Cruz

Four people with the letter "P" written on their foreheads in what appears to be charcoal are hanging out at the bar. They say they are Penelope Cruz's "dos amigos and dos hermana." They seem very happy. -- RR

7:51 p.m. Comics

A strangely somber Eddie Murphy quietly grabbed a piece of gum before presenting the Jean Hersholt Award to comic legend Jerry Lewis. Lewis himself perched on a stool near the stage and swigged water from a bottle as a trio of photographers snapped his picture. "You gotta be faster than that!" he crowed at the three. --RR

7:39 p.m. Long night

Marisa Tomei breezes into the bar with a friend. Friend says, "Get a drink?" She replies, "Get a few drinks." She goes to the side of the room and takes out a phone to text someone. --RR

7:35 p.m. In a hurry

Beyonce just tore through the bar with knit hat on her head, sunglasses on and a 20 person entourage trailing behind her. Stopped and asked where she is going, she said, "I gotta get home." -- RR

7:25 p.m. Respect

The bar falls silent for the Ledger family's speech. -- RR

7:24 p.m. Supporting actors

Best supporting actor co-presenter Christopher Walken made a fake grab for a trohpy as he and Cuba Gooding Jr. approached the stage. Kevin Kline was fittingly self-serious. Just after they headed out on stage, writer Bruce Vilanch and co-producer Laurence Mark exchanged quiet nods about the show's progress. "I'm having a great time," Vilanch said. "I think it's a great show." Mark gave a short nod and walked away. --GP

7:04 p.m. No business like show business

Outside stage right, dancers in top hats and tails with canes filed through with guys carrying drums and cymbals for a big musical number. Robert Downey Jr. and Steve Martin stood aside as they passed and Martin started singing, "There's no business like show business..." As the dancers filed down by the warren of production offices, Jack Black could be heard shouting to some lucky soul, "You're killing! Continue killing!" --GP

6:57 p.m. EDWARD!!!

Robert Pattinson, who is taller in person than you might think, was preceded by his brow and then his hair as he sauntered into the backstage area preparing to present with Amanda Seyfried. The stage manager gave them directions, coaching that he'd withheld from the more experienced presenters. He told them how to walk on and how to walk off. Producer Laurence Mark sipped hot tea behind them. "This is the real deal my darling," the stage manager told Seyfried as she waited to go on. Pattinson stared out at the audience, with that soulful look that has made him such a teen fantasy. When they returned, Seyfried was jumpy with adrenaline and as she was guided away shouted out "Bye, dude!" to Pattinson. --GP

6:42 p.m. Does he want the gig?

Brian Grazer watched the romance film montage from the bar and muttered, "No wonder they're all changing channels at home." -- RR

6:35 p.m. Missed shot

A tiny spotlight hit Daniel Craig's steely blue eyes and Sarah Jessica Parker placed a hand on his shoulder as they prepared to go onstage to present several awards. With the seafoam of a dress undulating underneath Parker, it created a picture perfect image for the half-dozen photographers nearby -- who ignored them. --GP

6:23 p.m. In the wings

Presenters Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston run their lines — Aniston is the straight man to Black’s goofball — as Dustin Lance Black is making his original screenplay acceptance speech. When the “Milk” writer says he dreamed of getting married, Aniston hits both hands on the script and says, “Bless his little heart! Sweet!” -- GP

6:20 p.m. Camera cue

As the camera lingered on Hugh Jackman after his "Australia" joke in the monologue, writer Bruce Vilanch went apopleptic, shouting out, "What the ... was that? Cut away from him on a punchline!" --GP

6:14 p.m. Shocker

The press room gasped and groaned when the camera panned to Angelina Jolie during Jennifer Aniston's presentation. -- GB

6:00 p.m. Last minute

At the "five minutes before show" call, a few of the crew stood for a group photo. One guy finished a banana. Dancers in street clothes prepped for the first number, stretching their legs. At three minutes to air, Hugh Jackman started testing his voice and paced. "You are the best ... thing," said Oscar show co-producer Laurence Mark to Jackman. "I want to be the underdog," Jackman replied. "This man is our genius!" Mark enthused. -- GP

5:56 p.m. Comic book movies

Hugh Jackman said in his opening number that comic book movies get no traction on Oscar night but we beg to differ: Not only did Wolverine host, but the Joker (Heath Ledger) was up against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) for supporting actor. In the best actor category, it was DC Comics cowboy Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin in the upcoming film) against the bad guy from "Iron Man 2" (Mickey Rourke) and Skeletor from "Masters of the Universe" (yes, Frank Langella, we remember). --GB

5:51 p.m. The Man

A moment of silence fell over the group of people crowded stage right as white-gloved guards wheeled the 8-pound golden statuettes onstage. "I was getting worried," said the stage manager. "Should we stand and salute?" joked Jennifer Aniston, backstage with beau John Mayer, who whooped quietly when he spotted the awards. The honorary Oscar to be bestowed upon Jerry Lewis stood alone on its own shelf below the others. The PricewaterhouseCoopers folks were right behind them. As one guard slipped the dolly into place, he wiped sweat off his brow and said, "I've made it!" --GP

5:46 p.m. Brangelina

Bathed in the cathode brilliance of dozens of flashbulbs, the celebrity entity known as Brangelina sauntered into the Kodak. And with the two superstars' disappearance, the energy level on the red carpet -- frantic and frenetic for three sustained hours, as would only befit this apex of the celebrity news year -- plummeted. It felt like somebody had turned off the celebrity lightswitch. Although nominees Taraji P. Henson, Kate Winslet and Penelope Cruz still had yet to make it inside, things had cooled. It seemed like the carpet was a wrap now that Brad and Angie were no longer there. --GB

5:35 p.m. Tough room

Former Oscar telecast host Whoopi Goldberg was backstage with her daughter fielding questions about Hugh Jackman from Oprah Winfrey's camera crew: "I think he's nervous; it's a tough room, really. Everybody wants to know, 'Did I win?' When you step out there, there's a lot of love. But only for a short time." --GP

5:29 p.m. Lobby

A jazz trio played in the lobby as white-shirted waiters circulated among the likes of Emile Hirsch chatting up two young women, his hair swept back. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus stood with two very young companions near the bar. Anthony Hopkins walked in briskly and headed straight toward the bar while John Patrick Shanley was introduced as the writer of the nominated film "Doubt." "Now I'm just a guy in the lobby," he joked. --GP

5:27 p.m. Overheard

Older bearded gentleman entering lobby: "Everyone's texting. Trying to get jobs." --RR

5:22 p.m. Red carpet moments with two Mickeys and a Downey

Mickey Rooney's wife tumbled into the hedge and sent a British television reporter pitching forward toward her camera.

Mickey Rourke, looking like some roadhouse pimp, approached the press like a bullfighter. At one point, trapped in a queue behind co-star Marisa Tomei, he stared down at her dress train, held his hands up and said to no one in particular: "Wait for the dress, wait for the dress."

Robert Downey Jr didn't want to talk at length about Heath Ledger. "We all need to remember there's a family. Every time we over-intellectualize or weigh in, they hear it. We can't know what they're going through." With a chuckle he also deflected an East coast reporter's provocative query with a fake hiss. "I'm the last guy here you want to rile up." --GB

5:19 p.m. The power of 'Twilight'

Without question, one celebrity captured the hearts and minds of the carpet's bleacher bums -- prompting more cortex rattling screams than any other mega celebrity on parade today. That would be "Twilight" heart throb Robert Pattinson. A relative unknown until just a few months ago, his sun eclipsed the assembled star power of the event. -- CL

5:18 p.m. Inside

Inside the Kodak, the setup doesn't look dramatically different than it has in previous years -- except that a little round stage juts into the audience from the mainstage. --RR

5:15 p.m. Tales from rehearsals

Baz Luhrmann said he just emerged from rehearsals, spruced up and headed for the red carpet. "This show, I've worked on a small musical number in the middle with Hugh and Beyonce and some other surprise guest stars, but what I've seen inside tells me they've put together a show unlike any other in history. I'm excited as a fan. They have some very unusual things, some unexpected things. " -- GB

5:10 p.m. Food...denied!

Well, maybe food won't be quite THAT hard to come by. A waiter carries a tray of mini-burgers through the lobby, and dozens of hungry guests descend on him. But one woman corrals the server and heads toward an important looking executive and his coterie, burgers in tow. --RR

5:04 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't lose track of your priorities

Asked by Robert Osborne if he had a message for the excitable paddock of fans in the bleachers adjacent to the increasingly mobbed arrivals area, Seth Rogen said to them, "Are you even going to see the show? You got suckered." Osborne set him straight: the fans were going across the street to El Capitan Theater to watch the ceremony. There, they would also be fed. That prompted a dawning realization for Rogen: "Free food. That's what you're really here for." --CL

4:57 p.m. Inside the Kodak

Comedic actor Jack Black skipped the red carpet and emerged into the lobby of the Kodak Theatre from a secret underground entrance. When his date asked if he needed a placard, Black smiled his fuzzy grin and said: "No. They recognize us." As if in affirmation, one security guard gave him a nod and said, "Hey, brother." --Gina Piccalo

4:53 p.m. No food!

Kodakgoers might experience a moment of last-minute panic as they realize what they are getting themselves into -- a three-hour show with not much in the way of sustenance. Some are asking, "Is there going to be anything to eat?" The answer, they will find, is mostly no. --RR

4:48 p.m. Michael Shannon

Robert Osborne asks if this was his first Oscars: "Yes, in reality. In my imagination, I've been to several." And what does he think of it so far? "Everyone is asking me good questions and is friendly. I can't find my body guard though. I'm just kidding. I don't have a body guard." --MM

4:44 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't neglect your inner Cruella De Vil

Perhaps as a prophylactic measure against the threat of rain, a substantial number of women are wearing elbow length gloves made out of some shiny material. According to an unofficial Times estimate, at least six fancy ladies on the carpet were rocking this look. --CL

4:41 p.m. Gawker hierarchy

If you're a non-celeb walking the red carpet, it's thrilling to think that the screaming fans in the bleachers might be calling out for you. But really, it's equally amusing to see how excited the crowd is to be in the presence of real stars. Countless people tried their best to snap a photo of themselves at the event -- with Beyonce in the background. The tuxedo-clad guests are a little star-struck, too, piling up 15 people deep to watch Ryan Seacrest interview the A-listers. --RR

4:37 p.m. Good karma

"It was Feb. 22 last year that we finished shooting 'Slumdog,'" said director Danny Boyle. "One calendar year, today, isn't that amazing? And who would have expected this? The reason is the film is emotional and unexpected and entertaining. We forget sometimes that those are what people have always wanted from movies. It's amazing for us to be here. I am so very happy." --CL

4:35 p.m. Inside info?

Sean Penn's mother, Eileen Ryan, to Robert Osborne on whether she's nervous about tonight: "No, I know how it's going to turn out." Osborne wondered without an answer if Ryan has inside information.


4:31 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't forget

Just because you made it to the end of the carpet, you're still not out of the woods. After making it 90 percent of the way into the arrivals staging area, "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens suffered a somewhat severe-looking wardrobe malfunction. As she stepped down from a small riser where she and date, Zac Efron, had been interviewed, her black silk gown appeared to get caught on something. With the help of a burly security guard, Hudgens shook the bottom of her dress for nearly three minutes, trying to make some correction in a way reminiscent of someone trying to put out a small brushfire. She ended up fleeing the carpet and leaving Efron to face the paparazzi solo. -- CL

4:22 p.m. John Patrick Shanley's Do's & Don'ts

Don't cry too early. "Doubt" director John Patrick Shanley said the key to success on the red carpet is timing. "You don't want to have a big emotional revelation at the beginning of the carpet. You can say a little and smile but you have to save yourself. You can have the breakdown or the epiphany later. You have to hold onto it. The middle of the carpet or the end. That's good." --GB

4:20 p.m. Fashion vs. environmentalism

At the end of the red carpet, Ed Begley Jr. stops to pose for the assembled photographers and gets just a moment of attention before fashion designer Valentino arrives quietly, standing five feet away. For a few awkward moments, Begley vies for the spotlight, but the throng soon begins to scream Valentino's name -- the actor and proto-environmentalist slips away. --Richard Rushfield

4:10 p.m. Kevin Kline on comedy

Kevin Kline won the Oscar for "A Fish Called Wanda" one of the relatively rare acting trophies to go to a perfomance in a pure comedy. "It's true, I was told that there's a perception that the Oscars should go to movies that are serious. Robert is up this year for a comedy and it's nice to see that. Comedy is just as entertaining and just as important and, they say, more difficult as an actor. We try to keep that myth going..." --GB

4:05 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't forget to plug

The red carpet of the Oscars is the most photographed piece of real estate in the world. Don't forget to take advantage. Phoebe Cates, looking luminous but also focused, said that everything she was wearing was for sale at her store. "It's called Blue Tree in New York," the actress said prettily. "There's a website too." --GB

4:02 p.m. Anthony Hopkins' Do's & Don'ts

Do: "Stay cool. You can't worry too much and get nervous. That's quite a bit easier to do when you're not in competition of course." The actor who inhabited one of the screen's great carnivores smiled and adjusted his cufflinks. "The event is a bit overwhelming to people but I did get accustomed to it. When you're in competition, it's difficult to have a good time, but that's a good problem to have." --GB

3:48 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't wear jewelry

Dan Glickman of MPAA said the trick this year for celebs was to dress to impress, not to depress. "Right now around the country people are dealing with some difficult times and the present isn't as bright as the past. They turn to Hollywood for entertainment and you know this evening is about pizazz and glamour but can't act like the world is the same. I went to the pre-show party last night and the tone was different than in the past. There was some things toned down. My advice is leave some jewelry in the drawer this year. We can't pretend that this isn't about show biz but we can be aware of the tone." --GB

3:42 p.m. Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus to Robert Osborne on the upcoming Hannah Montana movie: "Let's hope we're back next year getting something for that." --MM

3:40 p.m. Virginia Madsen

On winning Best Supporting Actress for "Sideways" (2004): "That was once in a lifetime dream come true ...Nothing will ever equal that year. That's why I waited a long time to go back." --MM

3:33 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Bring identification

The security cordon enveloping the Hollywood and Highland is no joke, with limos running a gantlet of cement barriers for celebrity drop offs, the bomb squad sweeping for suspicious packages and various FBI and Sheriff's Department agents on high alert. "I can't believe this is Hollywood Boulevard," Emile Hirsch said, shortly after arriving on the carpet. "The security getting in here is insane." --CL

3:26 p.m. The grub

On the menu Wolfgang Puck annouced to the listless pre-celebrity throng: pumpkin coconut soup, braised short ribs with 10 spices and a three tiered dessert "bento box" with different kinds of fruit sorbet and chocolate truffles. Nobody seemed to take much notice, craning necks as they were for any face more famous than celeb interviewer Steven "Colo" Cojucaru.

Puck told Robert Osborne he's cooking for 1,600 guests tonight, with the work coming from 250 chefs and 600 waiters. --CL and MM

3:17 p.m. Fun with Robert Osborne

Osborne asked one of the two men responsible for the sealed envelopes what would happen if the wrong winner was mistakenly announced. "We would correct it on the spot," the PriceWaterhouse Coopers rep answered. "We would come on stage right then and there."

Meanwhile, Osborne's best advice for red carpet visitors is to remember the details. "There's so much going on and you're worried about all the big things but you need to remember the little things. I always check to make sure my zipper is up. That's important." --MM and GB

3:05 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't touch the bag

The names of the winners arrived in two satchels carried by two representatives from PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Brad Oltmanns said the results are never digitized. He said he doesn't need the bag handcuffed to his wrist because of the tall, serious man strolling three paces behind him. "You wouldn't want to touch the bag." On his priorities for the evening:"Smile a lot and don't forget the bag." --GB

2:58 p.m.: DO'S & DON'TS: Come thirsty

After wending past the scrum of world media and screaming seat fillers, and posing for photos in front of a black tie-clad phalanx of paparazzi, celebrity guests and nominees entering the Kodak Theatre's soaring rotunda are encouraged to whet their whistles. Awaiting them: flutes of Moet and Chandon champagne on silver trays. --Chris Lee

2:53 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Think big be big

Puffy Combs has not made the Hollywood impact he hoped for (Remember 'Made'? Not many people do) but he was the biggest star on the carpet on Sunday. Well, sorta. There was an eight-story cologne ad on the TV Guide building facing east down Hollywood Boulevard in his white-coat tuxedo. --GB

2:51 p.m. Calm before the storm

Everyone here at the Kodak Theatre is anxiously awaiting the red carpet arrivals. An increased presence of security personnel are on the red carpet while people wearing "seat filler" badges have filed in the last three rows of the press bleachers. ABC cameremen are on the top of "The El Capitan Theatre" sign across from the Kodak Theatre. Garbage bags are near the cameras presumably if rain starts pouring. The weather right now appears slightly overcast with warm and pleasant temperatures. --MM

2:48 p.m. Winners preview?

Robert Osborne alerted the crowd that he will be announcing who is arriving on the Red Carpet. He also gauged the audience's reaction about who they like for best picture. The best response? "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." --MM

2:45 p.m. King Mario

The audience cheering has continued, this time for Mario Lopez. Just before filming a standup Lopez turned around and looked down a the balcony adjacent to the press bleachers. "It's Mario!" one yelled. Producers and Academy officials made hand motions to the crowd to turn up the volume. --MM

2:44 p.m. Queen Mary

Mary Hart, of Entertainment Tonight, appeared on the red carpet amid cheering fans from the stands. "You're beautiful!" one shouted. "I love your dress!" another said to Hart, who wore a light green dress with floral images splattered that had one strap over her right shoulder. --MM

2:42 p.m. Random screaming

The gallery let out loud cheers as if they just saw a movie star walk down the red carpet. But there was no one in sight. As ABC pre-taped various segments for its Oscar coverage, various members of the gallery audience that's served as the show's backdrop intermittently roared during the filming. It's all part of the broadcast business, but amusing nonetheless to hear random screaming. --Mark Medina

2:26 p.m. Fearless prediction

Academy rep Leslie Unger announced that tarps can be removed. "It's not going to rain." --GB

2:25 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Do flaunt what you got

A woman named Fern Cotton with British Sky 1 stood in front of more 300 members of the assembled press, batted her kewpie doll eyes and shamelessly declared that she was bringing her viewers "live exclusive coverage" from Oscars.


2:08 p.m. DO'S & DON'TS: Don't overreach linguistically

The on-air personalities of celeb journalism spend all year memorizing the names of Angelina Jolie's brood and the latest gallery of "American Idol" hopefuls. On Oscar day the focus shifts to arthouse concerns. Three hours before showtime, journos in their shiny rented shoes were practicing the pronunciations for the names of cast members of "Slumdog Millionaire." "I'm working on a phonetic for when these young people come up to me but I think I may just give up and go with 'Nice to meet you.' My Hindi is not reliable..."

--Geoff Boucher

Puffy Combs has not made the Hollywood impact he hoped for (Remember 'Made'? Not many people do) but he was the biggest star on the carpet on Sunday. Well, sorta. There was an eight-story cologne ad on the TV Guide building facing east down Hollywood Boulevard in his white-coat tuxedo.


Photo: Getty Images