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Live blogging the Oscars

February 22, 2009 | 12:07 pm

Make this blog item your home page for the rest of Oscar day. Tom O'Neil and Paul Sheehan are blogging live continuously all day. Keep hitting "refresh" for constant updates about what's happening at the Kodak Theatre.

9:06 p.m. — As with all of the past seven Oscars held at the Kodak Theater, the Governors Ball takes place in the adjoining Grand Ballroom which is 25,090 square feet. The menu for the Governors Ball was created by Wolfgang Puck for the fifteenth consecutive year. He promises the return of old favorites like tuna tartare in sesame miso cones and Maine lobster as well as, of course, caviar. And pastry chef Sherry Yard will once more be creating her gold-dusted chocolate Oscars as consolation prizes for those who didn’t get one of the real ones. Music will be spun by KCRW radio host Jason Bentley who will alternate with The Impulse Orchestra and featured jazz artists Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Barbara Morrison in performances throughout the evening. Bentley is also a movie music supervisor and earned a Grammy nod for his work on the first film in "The Matrix" trilogy.

9:03 p.m. — Now on to the Governors Ball. This will be the 50th edition of this after-Oscars tradition. The first party was held after the 30th Academy Awards in 1958 and became an annual affair with one exception — after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 the Oscars went on after a two-day delay but the ball was cancelled. Only 1,500 of the 3,300 people attending the Oscars rate an invitation to the ball and for the seventh year in a row, PR maven Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the one who decides on those who make the cut. She is an academy governor and must be adept at handling requests from all and sundry. Her day job is as head of her own marketing company. Prior to that she was an exec at New Line and Paramount.

8:59 p.m. — The end credits had film clips from the following: Sherlock Holmes, Funny People, Taking of Pelham 123, Public Enemies, Julie & Julia, The Soloist, Up, Fame, Terminator Salvation, 500 Days of Summer, Amelia, Whatever Works, Inglorious Basterds, Night at the Museum 2, Monsters vs. Aliens, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Angels & Demons, Old Dogs, Ice Age: The Dawn of Dinosaurs, The Boat that Rocked, An Education, State of Play, Imagine That, and G-Force.

8:55 p.m.Steven Spielberg, who helmed 1993 best picture winner "Schindler's List" presented the best picture Oscar to "Slumdog Millionaire." Producer Christian Colson was joined on stage by dozens of people including the three sets of actors who played the trio of leads in the film.

8:46 p.m. — Past winners Adrien Brody ("The Pianist"), Michael Douglas ("Wall Street"), Anthony Hopkins ("The Silence of the Lambs"), Ben Kingsley ("Gandhi"), and Robert DeNiro ("Raging Bull") presented lead actor to Sean Penn ("Milk"). Penn was greeted by a standing ovation. And surprise, surprise, he opened with a couple of jokes! He then pulled out a list and thanked his best friend, his circle of support, the film's writer, producers, and in a touching moment, the film's director Gus Van Sant. He ended on a political note, chastizing those who voted for the ban against gay marriage in California and saluting the election of an elegant man as president. And at the last, he called Mickey Rourke his brother.

8:36 p.m.Shirley MacLaine ("Terms of Endearment"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Nicole Kidman ("The Hours"), and Sophia Loren ("Two Women") were the past best actress winners who presented the Oscar to Kate Winslet ("The Reader"). Sixth time proved to be the charm for Winslet, who opened with: "I would be lying if I said I hadn't made a version of this speech. I was eight years old and this (the Oscar) was a shampoo bottle." Her father almost stole the show with a whistle. She listed some of her previous collaborators and thanked helmer Stephen Daldry. Finally, she gave an emotional tribute to the late Sydney Pollock and Anthony Minghella and then acknowledged being in a category with Meryl Streep, who was told to "just suck that up."

8:24 p.m. — "Slumdog" continues its march to best picture as Danny Boyle takes best director. "You have been so generous this evening and for that I thank you," he said in opening and gave a worldwide shout-out to the choreographer who came up with the socko film finale in closing.

8:20 p.m.— Hooray! Our biggest longshot prediction of the night came through — that "Departures" would win best foreign-language film over film critics' darlings "Waltz with Bashir" (winner, best picture from the National Society of Film Critics) and "The Class" (winner, Palme d'Or, Cannes Film Festival)! We bet on "Departures" because of two factors: it may have been the underdog, but it was the movie with the most emotional tug, plus there's the matter of how this winner is decided, which is different from most Oscar categories. The vast majority of other categories are determined by a popular ballot checked off by all academy members. But categories like foreign film, shorts and documentaries are determined only by those academy members who attend special screenings. That means voters are less swayed by buzz and other outside factors. They're really focusing on what they see on the screen, thus giving underdogs — like "Departures" — a chance. This is the first real, big win for Japan in this category. The nation won three times back when the award was bestowed as a kind of special award, but this is the first victory since all nominees were announced.

8:17 p.m. — Queen Latifah introduces "In Memoriam" and sings "I'll Be Seeing You" while clips and photos appear of: Cyd Charissse, Bernie Mac, Bud Stone, Ollie Johnston, Van Johnson, J. Paul Huntsman, Michael Crichton, Nina Foch, Pat Hingle, Harold Pinter, Charles H. Joffe, Kon Ichikawa, Charles Schneer, Abby Mann, Roy Scheider, David Watkin, Robert Mulligan, Evelyn Keyes, Richard Widmark, Claude Berri, Maila Nurmi, Isaac Hayes, Leonard Rosenman, Robert Doqui, Paul Scofield, Jules Dassin, Warren Cowan, Stan Winston, Ned Tanen, James Whitmore, Charlton Heston, Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, and Paul Newman.

8:02 p.m. — Zac Efron and Alicia Keys presented original score to A.R. Rahman for "Slumdog Millionaire." M.I.A. was understandably just that having given birth only days ago so composer Rahman sang "O Saya" while John Legend stepped in for Peter Gabriel and sang an abbreviated version of his song "Down to Earth" from "Wall-E." The winning song was the one given a big production number — "Jai Ho" with music by Rahman and lyrics by Gulzar.

7:49 p.m.Bob Hope, who hosted a record 18 Oscars including 11 solo gigs, received four honorary awards from the academy: a silver plaque "in recognition of his unselfish service to the Motion Picture Industry" in 1940; a life membership in 1944; an Oscar statuette "for his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise" in 1952; and a gold medal in 1965 for "unique and distinguished service to our industry and the Academy."

7:47 p.m. — There have been 115 honorary or special Oscars bestowed since the first ceremony but none this year. Last year, production designer Robert Boyle was feted for his lifetime of achievement. At the age of 98, the four-time Oscar nominee was the oldest honoree in academy history.

7:45 p.m. — The award is named for the Danish actor ("Greed," "Heidi") and translator of Hans Christian Andersen tales who co-founded the Motion Picture Relief Fund in 1939. He received an honorary Oscar for his efforts the following year and went to serve as academy president for from 1945 – 1949, receiving a second honorary Oscar in the last year of his tenure. Soon after he died in 1956, the academy created his honorary award in his name. The first recipient was Paramount exec Y. Frank Freeman. Among the more famous faces to receive this award are: Bob Hope (1957), Gregory Peck (1967), Frank Sinatra (1970), Rosalind Russell (1972), Charlton Heston (1977), Danny Kaye (1981), both Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor (1992), Paul Newman (1993), and Quincy Jones (1994). The most recent recipient was another Paramount exec - Sherry Lansing - in 2007.

7:42 p.m.Jerry Lewis is the 33rd recipient of the Jean Hersholt humanitarian award. The academy bestows this honor on "an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry." Lewis is being feted for his more than half century of service to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. During his long film career, Lewis was never nominated for an Oscar. However, he did serve as host of the 28th and 29th Oscars as well as one of many co-hosts of the 31st Oscars.

7:39 p.m.Chris Dickens won editing for "Slumdog Millionaire" as he did with the guild previously. And as all you Oscar watchers know, the best edited film tends to be the best picture winner. The two awards are very much linked.

7:35 p.m. — Fascinating! Heath's sister said, while accepting the award for best supporting actor, that he knew, while still alive, that his bizarre, outrageous interpretation of the Joker (so opposite from the iconic rendition by Jack Nicholson) might result in an Oscar! That was risky speculation for a popcorn pic, but obviously spot-on. She revealed that they "even spoke about what it would be like to be here on this extraordinary day." Now comes the question: who'll keep the award? When the Ledgers arrived at the L.A. airport earlier this week, they said that they planned to keep the award for Heath's daughter Matilda "forever," but would give it to her someday "down the line." Last week the academy announced that Matilda's mother, Michelle Williams, must sign the paperwork necessary to release the statuette. Then, everyone, including the Ledgers, agreed — so we thought — that the statuette would be shipped to Williams so it could be in her daughter's possession right away. But the Ledgers made it clear that they plan to stuff it in their luggage and take it back to Perth, Australia, when they get back on plane. I wonder: what's going to happen later when Heath's family tries to scoot out the Kodak Theatre with that statuette under arm? Hey, somebody, call security!

7:33 p.m. — After a truly action-packed short film, Will Smith rose out of the floor and presented visual effects to the team behind "Benjamin Button" which won with the VES last night. Sound editing went to "The Dark Knight." And sound mixing went to "Slumdog Millionaire" as it did last week at the CAS.

7:20 p.m. — After a short film by Oscar nominated documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles ("Grey Gardens"), Bill Maher came out to present documentary feature to "Man On Wire." But first he had to mention his snub by the Oscars for the controversial"Religulous." The subject of the winning documentary — aerialist Philippe Petit — capped off his acceptance by balancing the Oscar on his chin. And "Smile Pinki," a moving film about doctors who repair cleft lips, won the short documentary Oscar.

7:09 p.m. — Supporting actor opened with yet another wonderful montage of past winners. The five previous winners are — Joel Grey ("Cabaret"), Christopher Walken ("The Deer Hunter"), Kevin Kline ("A Fish Called Wanda"), Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine"), and Cuba Gooding, Jr. ("Jerry Maguire"). The winner, of course, Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight").

7:05 p.m. — Another wow! Hugh Jackman and Beyonce in a fantastic production number that reminds us of what an Oscarcast should be! Already this show is a winner! Among the musical shout-outs in the big production number Hugh just staged was "One Night Only" from "Dreamgirls." But uh-oh, Beyonce did a few bars of "At Last." (What will Etta James think of that?) Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens ("High School Musical") and Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia!") joined in for the finale. Baz Luhrmann created this spectacular tribute to the best of movie musicals. Among the movie musicals they managed to weave together: "West Side Story," "The Wizard of Oz," "Grease" and so many others. We are in the hands of real master show folk tonight!

6:50 p.m.Judd Apatow directed "Pineapple Express" stars Seth Rogen and James Franco in a hilarious short film filled with laughs as they saluted the best in movies. Best moment — Franco, as the "Pineapple" pot smoker watching himself make out with Sean Penn in "Milk." They were joined by two-time Oscar winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski ("Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan") to present short action film to "Toyland (Spielzeugland)."

6:38 p.m. — Another newcomer to the Oscars is Michael Giacchino who is serving as the musical director. He is the man charged with playing off nominees if they go on too long. The pressure is really on Giacchino as Mark and Condon have promised a three-hour telecast. And while Giacchino has composed music and conducted orchestras for both film and television, this is his first time conducting a live broadcast. Last year, Giacchino was one of those nominees when he picked up an original score nod for his music for "Ratatouille." He lost to Dario Marianelli for "Atonement." As his other film credits include "Speed Racer," "Mission: Impossible III," and "The Incredibles," Giacchino obviously knows his way around a fast-paced tempo. And having won an Emmy in 2005 for his scoring of "Lost," he certainly understands how to build up the suspense.

6:37 p.m.Ben Stiller did a brilliant riff on two-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix while poor Natalie Portman tried to read off the nominees for cinematography. The winner — Anthony Dod Mantle for "Slumdog Millionaire," who recently won the guild award. Love that Mantle color-coordinated his handkerchief to the Oscar. This award result isn't a surprise considering its guild victory, but it's still a bit of a departure considering that Oscar voters had "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" as an alternative choice. When the guild differs from the Oscars, it's often to underscore its longtime preference for the movies with the most epic scope like "Button."

6:30 p.m. — Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried introduced a montage of romantic moments from the movies of 2008. All well and good but was that the reason the promised opening film got cut for time? That film was created by and was described by the academy as "a celebration of the language of film and the spirit of moviemaking" and was to include "guest appearances by some of today’s moviemaking icons." While we are not sure what all that means, it was heartening to know that created the film that opened the 75th anniversary Oscarcast which celebrated all the previous winners. This new film was directed by Bennett Miller, who lost his 2005 directing bid for "Capote" to Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountain" and has now lost another chance to shine at the Oscars.

6:21 p.m. — SJP and Bond — two fashion icons — gave the costume design Oscar to "The Duchess" designer Michael O'Connor who won the guild award last week.

6:19 p.m.Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig presented art direction against backdrops of shots from the nominated films. The winner — the team from "Benjamin Button" which won with the guild last week. This means the film won't be shut out tonight. Helmer David Fincher got a heartfelt thank you, as did wives and parents.

6:15 p.m — "Wow, I can't believe 'Maison' won best animated short!" an academy voter just gasped to me here at the Hollywood Museum where there's a fund-raising viewing party going on for the Hollywood police. "I thought it was between 'Presto' and 'Lavatory Love Story.' But I can tell you what happened. 'Maison' was the only serious one. The other nominees were all funny. 'Maison' is surreal. It's about a man reflecting on his life in a depressing way. I thought it was terrible!"

6:12 p.m. — The set for the Oscars was designed by David Rockwell, the architect responsible for the Oscars permanent home – the Kodak Theater. Besides building, Rockwell also creates set designs for Broadway shows, including the upcoming tuner version of "Catch Me If You Can." He earned a 2003 Tony Award nomination for his work on "Hairspray" but lost to two-time Oscar winner Catherine Martin ("Moulin Rouge") for her work on her husband Baz Luhrmann's production of "La Boheme."

6:09 p.m. — "Wall-E" bested Black's "Kung Fu Panda" and Andrew Stanton delivered a wry, acceptance speech. He was a winner in 2003 for "Finding Nemo" but lost original screenplay then as he did tonight. He was also a 1995 nominee for his "Toy Story" script.

6:05 p.m. — Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black introduced a look back at animation. The last time we saw a cutaway of Angelina Jolie at an awards show with someone else at the podium, she was sneering at Anne Hathaway who beat her for best actress at the Critics Choice. Tonight, hallelujah, we saw her smiling when her one-time love rival was up onstage. Why, oh why, did they not show Brad Pitt?

6:03 p.m. — Again, after a reading of a scene from each adapted screenplay, Martin and Fey announce the winner to be Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire"). Dare we suggest the Oscars are going to script as per the pundits. Beaufoy acknowledged the author of the source material, "Q &A," a novel by Vikas Swarup before thanking the cast for introducing him to India.

5:59 p.m. — Dustin Lance Black delivered an emotional acceptance speech ending with a wonderful embrace of young gays and lesbians and a promise of equal rights one day.

5:55 p.m.Steve Martin and Tina Fey, two witty writers, prompt the audience on how to react with a huge script front and center. After a riff of jokes, they introduce the nominees by reading the directions that accompany each scene featured. What an original way to present original screenplay. The winner — Dustin Lance Black ("Milk").

5:52 p.m. — Wow, what an acceptance speech from Penelope Cruz. That was her mother she kissed. She used her extra tickets to bring her brother, sister, and her childhood friend. Her dad went with her to the Golden Globes and Baftas. She told us ahead of time in our podcast chat that she was definitely going to prepare a speech. Glad to see she was prepared. She opened with such a nice moment - "Has anyone ever fainted up here? I might be the first" and then ending with a salute to the unity of the Oscars and wrapping up in Spanish.

5:48 p.m. — Supporting actress began with a montage of past winners accepting with a whirlwind of emotional moments capped off by Tilda Swinton's heartfelt thank you. And then a standing O for Swinton and past winners Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn, Angelica Huston, and Whoopi Goldberg. Each singled out one of the nominated performances with words of praise. Whoopi got a big laugh as she said, "its not easy being a nun" before introducing Amy Adams. Tilda Swinton revealed the winner to be Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona").

5:42 p.m. — Bravo! That intro was a smart use of Hugh's top skills. Think Broadway variation on what Billy Crystal used to do musically with film clips. Best parts; Anne Hathaway's duet and Hugh belting out his grand finale: "These are the Oscars! This is my dream! I am a slumdog! I'm the reader, the wrestler. I am Wolverine!" This guy even does jokes! Telling Mickey Rourke about the new 30-second delay anticipating his next acceptance speech — what a hoot!

5:30 p.m. — Why does ABC bother doing just quickie 30-minute pre-show? The network tries to cram in so many interviews that they only have time for one or two questions, which are usually inane. Like asking Richard Jenkins, "Were you surprised to be nominated?" "Answer: "Yes." At least we got to learn that Penelope Cruz is re-wearing an old frock again! For this kind of TV journalism, all other pre-shows must unplug their rival live shows?

5:28 p.m. — Approximately 300 people work in the production office and another 350 crew members are needed for the telecast. They fill 100 trailers as well as every nook and cranny backstage at the Kodak Theater.

5:27 p.m. — While Condon, Mark and Goodman are new to the Oscars, veteran supervising producer Michael Seligman returns for his 32nd show. Along the way, he has earned four Emmy nods for his work. Most recently, he served as producer of "Stand Up to Cancer," a one-hour commercial-free special that aired simultaneously on the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks to raise funds for cutting-edge cancer research. From that show, Seligman brought on board the Oscar bandwagon Danette Herman to wrangle talent. And with the decision to keep secret the identities of many of the presenters, Herman's job became doubly difficult. How do you convince an A-list star to skip the red carpet and enter the theatre by way of the loading dock?

5:26 p.m. — First-time exec producer Bill Condon certainly knows all about giving us the old "razzle dazzle" having adapted 2002 best picture "Chicago" from the Broadway tuner. And he directed another stage-to-screen musical — the spectacular "Dreamgirls" — in 2006 with Laurence Mark producing. Mark is handling the same job at the Oscars for the first time. Along with neophyte producers Condon and Mark, director Roger Goodman is in the control room for the first time. Goodman's background is in directing live news and sports events. He just handled ABC's coverage of the inauguration and was also responsible for overseeing the net's 24-hour live coverage of millennium eve. In addition, he has directed for both the Summer and Winter Olympics as well as the Indy 500 and the ultimate real-life horse race - the Kentucky Derby. For his efforts, Goodman has earned dozens of news and sports Emmy nominations and has won 25 Emmys from various branches.

5:07 p.m.Robert Morton is executive producer of the 30-minute ABC pre-show from the red carpet. During his 14-year tenure with David Letterman, Morton earned 10 Emmy nominations with a 1994 win as best variety, comedy, or music series for the first season of "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS. On-air talent is "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts, "Project Runway" fashion guru Tim Gunn, and Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle.

5:03 p.m. — All live TV shows must shut off by 5 p.m. Pacific time so that the ABC pre-show is the only one with live-from-the-carpet reports. Others have been doing extra interviews during commercial breaks so they can air them after 5 p.m. Viewers may think those other channels are still live — they look that way — but they're not.

5:00 p.m. — Seacrest signed off with a quick chat with supporting nominee Robert Downey, Jr. ("Tropic Thunder") about his nomination as well as the upcoming "Iron Man 2."

4:59 p.m. — Seacrest had a moment with Brad Pitt ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") who said it was an honor that both he and Angelina Jolie ("Changeling") were both nominated.

4:53 p.m. — Lead actress nominee Kate Winslet ("The Reader") admits she is very nervous this evening. And as for the speech, her daughter said she should be emotional while her son says she should thank everyone for helping her get there - ahhh.

4:45 p.m. — Last year's lead actress winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose") talks glowingly about her "Nine" co-star Penelope Cruz as well as Johnny Depp in the upcoming "Public Enemies."

4:43 p.m. — Supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") says she was grateful not to have to play this tough character for more than four weeks. While she says the shoot was gruelling, it was all worth it. And she talks about "Nine" which could well be an Oscar contender next year.

4:39 p.m. — Will the Oscars be gone with the wind? It might be appropriate considering that movie won best picture of 1939, but now there's a mighty wind whipping up the Oscar scene. Up on the bridge over the red carpet, wind is so fierce that TV tech guys are scrambling to secure the overhung lights swaying back and forth, screwing up TV shots anchored here where E!, Access Hollywood, CNN, KTLA and others small skybox locations.

4:37 p.m.Peter Gabriel says they went for a medley only three to four minutes and thought that he could not do his "Wall-E" song justice in such a short time.

4:35 p.m. — Director nominee Ron Howard ("Frost/Nixon") tells Seacrest of meeting Richard Nixon back in the 1980s: "He had no idea who I was." Howard said he wanted to make the movie as he was watching the play. Howard explains that he likes lots of takes because "you have the opportunity to make excellence; that is not the time to be lazy, to take shortcuts." And he is hopeful for an "Arrested Development" movie.

4:33 p.m.Queen Latifah says she will be singing a song during the "In Memoriam" segment. And she says she is so proud of Jennifer Hudson for performing in front of the world and reminding us all of what a talent she is

4:31 p.m. — Supporting actor contender Josh Brolin ("Milk") admits he was surprised to find out he was nominated after waking up forty-five minutes after he thought the names were announced but discovering that, as he was in Utah, he was actually fifteen minutes early for the news.

4:29 p.m. — Lead actor contender Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") is telling Seacrest how much he misses his beloved dog Loki who died just days ago. He says he is not sure what he will say if he wins but says he will clap his a** off if Sean Penn wins.

4:27 p.m. — Supporting actress nominee Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler") had to correct Seacrest about the last time she was nominated for an Oscar. Uh, that would be "In the Bedroom" in 2001. She said she was grateful that the gruelling shoot for "The Wrestler" was short.

4:25 p.m. — Look up at the tops of buildings you see on any pre-show you're watching on TV and you'll spy the sniper cops poised with rifles aimed down at the crowd, constantly at the ready in case needed to snuff out a problem. They try not to show them on TV, but sometimes you can spot them if you're looking. Overhead, helicopters are roaring to police the scene too. Everybody must pass through metal detectors nearby — even the public kept behind high, canvas-covered fences blocking the Oscar scene from them. The whole neighborhood is ringed by metal detectors, not just the area immediately around the Kodak Theatre. To get to the red carpet area, you must pass through two or three detectors at various locations — and whatever you're carrying gets searched again and again.

4:23 p.m. — When asked, Seth Rogen tells Seacrest he lost weight for a role but is not sure if he will keep the pounds off.

4:21 p.m.Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick are holding hands, dispelling rumors of marital discord. SJP says she is in "barely mint" and corrects Matthew who is wearing "midnight blue." She says she is very excited about the prospect of the "SATC" sequel but knows nothing about it.

4:19 p.m. — Robert Pattinson talks to Seacrest about dealing with fame and being asked to be part of the Oscars: "I was laughing in the car on the way over here. It is completely ridiculous." He readily admits he can never hope to be as charming as his "Twilight" character. And he says his rehearsal for tonight was "catastrophic."

4:15 p.m. — Supporting actress nominee Amy Adams ("Doubt") is just so poised. She was so eloquent when talking about working with acting icons Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman and invoked the doubt she felt as a viewer watching the film.

4:12 p.m. — Lead actor nominee Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") is truly just happy to be there.

4:10 p.m.Michael Sheen ("Frost/Nixon") told Seacrest he will be sitting next to David Frost during the ceremony. And he didn't mind all those takes that director Ron Howard likes so much. "It is like swimming with dolphins; it is good for the soul."

4:03 p.m. — The supporting nominees keep coming. First Seacrest chatted with Taraji P. Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and put his foot in it when he mentioned her father as her inspiration only to be told he died several years ago. Then Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") came along and deftly side-stepped Seacrest's obligatory Leo/Kate/"Titanic" question.

4:00 p.m. — Supporting actress nominee Viola Davis told Seacrest about going 15 rounds with Meryl Streep (who she referred to as the "500 pound gorilla of acting") and just not stinking. Seacrest remains unsure as to why the film is called "Doubt."

3:59 p.m. — "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle credits his daughter for pointing him in the direction of Dev Patel who was starring in a Brit teen drama called "Skins"

3:57 p.m. — Lead actress nominee Melissa Leo ( "Frozen River") told Seacrest she had a "delightful day" getting ready. She is giving Seacrest a geography lesson as to where Plattsburgh, New York — the film's main location — is.

3:55 p.m. — "Slumdog Millionaire" stars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto just had their interview with Seacrest ambushed by co-star Anil Kapoor as they denied being a real-life romantic couple. But at least they got to meet John Legend who then touted their film to Seacrest.

3:50 p.m. — Up here on the bridge over the red carpet while doing KTLA's pre-show, you get a dramatic reminder that there are really two red carpets. Notice the velvet rope down the center? When guests arrive, the stars are ushered to the left, the nobodies shuttled off to the right. Funniest part of watching the scene in action is seeing the faces of arrivees being told, "'Yo, dude! Wrong way! Go to the right!"

3:47 p.m. — Ryan Seacrest is struggling to interview the two sets of children who appeared as the younger versions of the lead trio in "Slumdog Millionaire."

3:45 p.m. — Pity those poor women shivering in their sleeveless gowns on the red carpet. This year marks the earliest Oscars ever. Four of the last five Oscars were also in late February as were the Oscars held in 1935 and 1939 to 1942.

3:40 p.m. — 1988 supporting actor winner Kevin Kline ("A Fish Called Wanda") and wife Phoebe Cates (niece of long-time Oscar producer Gil Cates) are chatting to Ryan Seacrest about "American Idol" as well as whether or not Kline will be presenting. Hmmm ... looks more and more likely that past winners are reuniting to present this year's awards.

3:35 p.m. — Ryan Seacrest is now grilling Zac Efron about this much-talked about but little-known musical number. Efron says he liked all the movies out this year. Vanessa Hudgens is wearing a dress designed by Harvey Weinstein's wife — smart girl!

3:25 p.m. — Ryan Seacrest chatted with "Mamma Mia!" young love interest Dominic Cooper who will be appearing in a musical number on the Oscarcast tonight. Dressed in a tux today, he looks far different than the pink lycra he donned for the closing number of that smash movie musical. Rumor has it he and his on-screen love interest Amanda Seyfried will be part of a song and dance fest along with "High School Musical" sweethearts Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens and "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

3:15 p.m. — This is Oscars number eight from the Kodak Theater. The longest Oscars in academy history were the first ones from this specially-built venue for the awards. That was the 74th ceremony for 2001 which ran 4 hours and 23 minutes and was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg in the last of her four turns to date. "A Beautiful Mind" won best picture. To date, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was the most used venue, hosting 25 Oscars over the years.

3:10 p.m.Miley Cyrus is the first star to be interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the E! Television's pre-show. Cyrus was snubbed for a nod for her song for "Bolt" but still showed up. She said she will be star-stalking tonight and would love to meet, and be adopted, by Angelina Jolie.

3:00 p.m. — Two hours before the start of the derby and they are about to start lining up at the post. For those of you in the Los Angeles area, I will be reporting on the pre-show on KTLA for the next two hours in between blogging. I am perched on a skywalk overlooking the red carpet, just close enough to toss a water balloon into the crowd. So if you see someone who looks all wet, it ain't because of any rain.

2:50 p.m. — Over the first eighty years of the Academy Awards, 2701 Oscars have been handed out. Why we refer to what is officially known as the "Academy Award of Merit" as the Oscar remains a mystery of sorts. Official academy lore is that then academy librarian Margaret Herrick upon seeing the award for the first time said it looked like her Uncle Oscar. However, Bette Davis — who would go on to serve a short stint as academy president — claimed she gave him his moniker after the middle name of her then husband Harmon Nelson.

2:45 p.m. — With only fifteen minutes to go to the start of the red carpet, remember it is only 33 feet wide. Half the fun of watching all this unfold is seeing who is allowed on the official red carpet and who is shunted off to another one — a little less red and a whole lot less glamourous — to make their way into the Kodak Theater.

2:35 p.m. — While the winners no doubt consider Oscar to be priceless, the actual cost of making one is $500. R.S. Owens & Co. of Chicago have had the job of producing them since 1982. While the original Oscars were gold-plated solid bronze, they are now britannia metal (described by the academy as a pewter-like alloy) which is plated first in copper, then nickel silver, and finally 24-karat gold. For three years during WWII, the academy handed out plaster versions painted gold. The winners got the real thing after the war.

2:25 p.m. — That little gold man that everyone wants to get their hands on today stands 13 ½ inches high with a 5 ¼ inch base and weighs 8 ½ pounds. He was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons in advance of the first ceremony and represents a knight standing on a reel of film and holding a crusader's sword. The five spokes of the reel signify the original branches of the academy — actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. Gibbons went on to win 11 Oscars over his illustrious career with another 27 nominations.

2:15 p.m. — While there are only 24 competitive categories at the Oscars — the Grammys have 110 — there are 50 Oscars sitting backstage right now. This seeming surplus is on account of multiple winners within a nomination on the technical side as well as the potential for ties. Wouldn't it be great if we had our third tie in an acting race? The last one was forty years ago when newcomer Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl") and veteran Katharine Hepburn ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") got the same number of votes for lead actress. When Fredric March ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde") and Wallace Beery ("The Champ") tied for lead actor in 1933, they were within three votes of each other. Last year 43 Oscars were required to put into the hands of all the winners.

2:05 p.m. — The very first Oscars were held just a few blocks from the site of the Kodak Theater at the Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929. Tickets went for $5 a pop and 270 people attended the dinner with the Oscars handed out as dessert by the academy's first president Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. For the only time in Oscar history there were two best picture winners but not because of a tie. Rather, "Wings" won what we know as best picture while "Sunrise" was awarded an Oscar in a category that never saw the light of day again — "unique and artistic picture."

1:55 p.m. — With just over an hour to go till the red carpet opens for business, it is a good time to reflect on the first Oscars that were telecast on TV. They were the silver anniversary Academy Awards held on March 19, 1953 just down Hollywood Blvd. at the Pantages Theater. The show aired on NBC and was hosted — no surprise — by Bob Hope. The big surprise that night was when "The Greatest Show on Earth" won best picture besting, among others, "High Noon."

1:30 p.m. — Our forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum has compiled this list of who we believe will be among the performers, presenters and participants on tonight's show. Over at, he found an unofficial rundown of how the program reportedly will go tonight. Thanks, Chris!

Jennifer Aniston
Jessica Biel
Marion Cotillard
Zac Efron
Tina Fey
Whoopi Goldberg
Anne Hathaway
Vanessa Hudgens
Queen Latifah
John Legend
Jennifer Lopez
Bill Maher
Steve Martin
M.I.A. (possible)
Sarah Jessica Parker
Robert Pattinson
Natalie Portman
A.R. Rahman
Amanda Seyfried
Sukhwinder Singh
Soweto Gospel Choir
Kristen Stewart
Tilda Swinton
Carrie Underwood
USC Marching Band
Reese Witherspoon


5:38: Hugh’s opening performance

5:45:AWARD #1

5:51: AWARD #2:

5:55: AWARD #3

6:03: AWARD #4

6:05: AWARD #5

6:14: AWARD #6

6:18: AWARD #7

6:20: AWARD #8

6:30: AWARD #9


6:41: AWARD #10

7:03: AWARD #11

7:08: AWARD #12

7:10: AWARD #13

7:20: AWARD #14

7:22: AWARD #15

7:26: AWARD #16

7:29: AWARD #17


7:48: AWARD #18

7:55: AWARD #19

8:01: AWARD #20

8:10 In Memoriam

8:14: AWARD #21

8:23: AWARD #22

8:31: AWARD #23

8:38: AWARD #24

1:24 p.m.Ben Lyons, host of "At The Movies," just made an Oscar boo-boo over on E! Television. He said that if Kate Winslet goes down to defeat tonight, she will be Oscar's biggest acting loser. Now Ben, all that a loss tonight would mean for Kate is that she would be tied with Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as Oscar's biggest female losers. Peter O'Toole sits alone atop - or is that the bottom - of the heap with eight losses.

1:21 p.m. — In our forums — right here — is where I posted the full list of predix of my pal Tariq Khan, who's one of the savviest Oscarologists I know. Tariq wrote up his more detailed Oscars predix in the top races for Tariq wrote up this special article for Gold Derby recently: Can Amy Adams really pull off an upset for best supporting actress?

1:20 p.m. — Check out the Oscars predix of The Envelope's forum posters here. Navigate through the pages by clicking on the numbers at the top and bottom right of each thread.

1:15 p.m. — Do you want to snoop back through Gold Derby's posts over the past few weeks and are confused about how to navigate this blog? You're not alone. Our tech staff is working on making that clearer. Meantime, try this. Scroll down to the very bottom of any blog page and click on the word "Next." Then click again . . . . and again. If you click on "Previous Posts," that'll just take you to a monthly breakdown. To move back and forth between the posts within that month, you need to use the "Next" and "Previous" links, not the "Previous Posts" one (monthly only).

1:12 p.m. — While waiting for the red carpet to warm up, let's ponder that diva smackdown over best actress: Kate Winslet ("The Reader") vs. Meryl Streep ("Doubt"). Sure, Kate's way overdue. After five losses, she'll tie Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as the biggest-losing actress in Oscar history if she gets slapped one more time by voters. Comparing her performance to Streep's, Kate's is much Meryl_winslet more subtle. In fact, it's downright quiet, as she brims with dark emotions that make us wonder: is she haunted by the role she played in the Holocaust? Or just depressed because she's a social outcast? Meryl Streep's performance was her most flashy and impressive since the last time she won best actress for "Sophie's Choice." But that was 26 years ago and she won best supporting actress before that for "Kramer vs. Kramer." Does the academy think she's had enough gold? Meryl was mightily impressive and endearing at the SAG Awards while reminding us that she rarely wins these statuettes anymore and SAG, let's recall, is an excellent tea leaf predicting who'll win the  Oscar next. But so is the Golden Globe and Kate gave TWO award-worthy performances at the podium when she won for both "The Reader" (supporting) and "Revolutionary Road" (lead), reminding us that she never wins these awards EVER. (She'd lost five times at the Globes previously, just like the Oscars.) But I'm sticking with Kate because she seems to have everything else going for her, in addition to just being overdue. "The Reader" is up for best picture. "Doubt" isn't. That often helps. Besides, Kate ages on screen (just like last year's winner, Marion Cotillard), she has a foreign accent (like Streep in "Sophie's Choice"), she's in a Holocaust movie ("Diary of Anne Frank," "Schindler's List," and, oh, yeah, "Sophie's Choice") and she's naked in much of the film. Don't forget the Babe Factor at the Oscars. Here is what I have to say about that! (Photos: Miramax, Weinstein Co.)

1:10 p.m. — Looking out over the red carpet it is surprisingly short, especially compared to the sense you have of it from TV. While it measures 500 feet, that is from the limo drop off point at the corner of Hollywood & Highland all the way up to the front doors of the Kodak Theater. The first 50 feet are for the entryway and the last 150 feet or so run through a store-filled promenade lined with columns listing the past 80 best picture winners and up a grand staircase. That leaves just 300 feet to cram in 100 photographers, another 100 print reporters, and nearly 300 TV people, including on-air personalities and behind-the-scenes crews.

12:58 p.m.Ooops. I'm so crazed this kudos weekend (Oscars, Spirits, Razzies, VES), I didn't have time last night to dish Razzies after the ceremony. Here's a brief report. They really put on the ole razzle-dazzle in a ceremony at the Barnsdall in Hollywood. What many people don't realize about these snarky kudos is that they're bestowed by a comedy troupe — and a deviously hilarious one at that. Below is a pic I took of them taking their bow last night after making the audience howl (with laughter) and the "winners" too (with anguish). The show began with a trio of gals dressed in typical trashy, flashy Abba costumes, crooning (sometimes badly — on purpose) a spoof riff on "Dancing Queen" with lyrics like "we make Hollywood scream" and "we ruin your career." Bravo! Of course, we all know who'd "win," given that Paris Hilton and "Love Guru" were up for top dishonors — but they got razzed multiple times! Congrats Paris and Mike Myers! Here is the L.A. Times report.


12:40 p.m. — Hey, Kate Winslet: You can leave your umbrella behind before hopping in your limo. The weather forecast for this afternoon is 67 degrees and cloudy with a less than 10% chance of rain by the time the red carpet winds up at 5:00 p.m.

12:30 p.m. — Two and a half hours before the first limo pulls up, the bleachers that line the red carpet are already full of fans. There are 612 hardy souls sitting up there. They were lucky enough to win the on-line lottery and secure a place. Which of the stars will make their way over there later this afternoon and make all of this effort worthwhile?

12:05 p.m. — The Indie Spirits' winners have me very, very worried about my Oscars predictions. Should I ditch Sean Penn for Mickey Rourke? Yikes! What concerns me is that Spirit voters are artsy hipsters. Within academy ranks, I thought Penn was the top choice of those kind of folks while I counted the votes of academy members who'd tattle to me — and Penn was ahead of Rourke in that tally. But the artsy folk (actors, writers, directors, PR chiefs, makeup, costume designers) comprise only slightly more than half of the full 5,800 academy members. The rest are those "steak eaters," as Harvey Weinstein likes to call them — the macho dudes in the tech branches who are editors, cinematographers, viz effects wizards, who often sway results. Granted, there are a lot of macho types throughout the academy, which is overwhelmingly male. Mickey Rourke might be their man. See my full list of predix here.

11:55 a.m. — When I picked up my Oscars press credential yesterday, the intense secrecy surrounding the ceremony really hit home as an academy staffer leaned over to me with a hurtful pout and said, "They're not even letting us inside the theater to see rehearsals! We've always been permitted to do that in the past and none of us ever snitched. Why don't they trust us now?"

11:45 a.m. (Pacific Time) — There's sure a lot of grumbling from panicking media along the red carpet, fretting over reports that many stars have been ordered by Oscarcast producers to skip the carpet and slip in the back entrance to the Kodak. Who'll be left for them to interview? There's a rumor afloat that many of the stars dodging the media are scores of past winners, who don't usually get to attend these ceremonies in later years because tickets are limited within the 3,200-seat theater. Most seats are usually claimed by gads of film studio exex and other industry honchos. We think we've figured out whazzup. Gold Derby believes that the reason the ceremony's orchestra has been pushed to the back of the stage is to clear room for a platform that will rise up front bearing a team of past winners in a given category, who'll present en masse to this year's champ.


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