Academy Awards: The Social Scene
Monday, March 6, 2006; 1:00 PM
You may have watched the Academy Awards and every red carpet show that aired before it. But do you know what really happened behind the scenes at the Oscars?
The Washington Post's William Booth and Hank Stuever do.
From the carpet to backstage to the after-parties, the Style staff writers have the scoop on what really went down during Hollywood's biggest night.
They will be online Monday, March 6, at 2 p.m. ET to answer your questions and dish all the Oscar dirt.
A transcript follows.
Alexandria, Va.: Is it just me or has Matt Dillon aged incredibly well? He looked great last night!
Hank Stuever: Good afternoon and we apologize for the delay. We, and our computers, are sort of ... bleary today.
Matt Dillon looks great.
Still not the brightest, but hey...
Olney, Md.: Kids, are the ladies really wearing make-up on their chests? Is it obvious? How icky.
Hank Stuever: They are, and it is.
And on backless dresses, the back is thickly layered in makeup too.
Who knew the "Solid Gold" dancers still work?: I hope you got to see some of the show too, something that cracked me up...
That performance of the song from "Crash." With a great line from Jon ... "When trying to escape from a burning car, moving in slow motion is not recommended." What was up with the "Solid Gold" (tm) dancers in the background moving in slo-mo? It is actually a beautiful song, which they could have just played over actual IMAGES from "Crash," instead of the really strange interpretive dance.
And I thought Jon did a great job, I usually agree with Tom Shales, but not today! Tell him to lighten up!
Hank Stuever: I saw those dancers and thought to myself "Isn't Oscar way past the choreography days"? Apparently not.
Sigh: I know, I know, weird + hot = Joaquin Phoenix... but is he nice at least?
William Booth: Weird. Hot. We can work with that. Joaquin Phoenix last night at the VF fete was very pleasant and not weird at all. But very hot.
Bellingham, WA: It seemed from a couple of comments on the ABC aftershow that the Brokeback Mtn folks were really mad about not getting Best Picture? Was this true, and if so, do you think its justified, personally I think the whole point of not knowing who wins before the envelope is opened is that its great if you win, but you shouldn't expect it.
Hank Stuever: I agree. But I guess the BBMountain folks were getting accustomed to accolade. They were let down. I overheard some carping at VF.
Los Angeles, Ca.: Hey Hank, since "Brokeback" lost for Best Picture are you going to go back into the closet?
Hank Stuever: No, but you stay in there and make it real comfy and let us know how it's going.
Washington, D.C.: Was it me or was last night a bit of a hunk-fest? George Clooney, Eric Bana, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix -- hell, even Phillip Seymour Hoffman is sexy. Catnip for straight women and gay men -- God bless America.
I know that when you guys cover the Oscars, you're jammed into the press room with a couple hundred other sweaty reporters, so my condolences. What was the mood in the press room like? Was everyone shocked at "Crash" winning Best Pic? And was there a fave winner in front of the microphones?
William Booth: You are correct. Press room is like flying coach and getting the middle seat. And yes, when they announced Crash, the room went like whooooooooooo. Probably because up until that point there hadn't been a single disruption of the conventional wisdom over who would win.
Re: catnip? Was it just us, or did Philip Seymour get more fizz right after he won? the man with the metal.
AFT Bureau Offices: Any indication anywhere on what types of non-alcohol drinks Lindsay Lohan and other underage entertainers were drinking last night?
William Booth: We didnt recall seeing any of the youths at the apres-fetes. They might have been out chugging tall boys in the limos while the adults were inside.
Westport, Conn.: Is Sandra Bullock pregnant and why did she attend with Keanu Reeves?
Hank Stuever: Sandra and Dope Face have a new movie coming out in June, and were there as chums, and to present an award. Sometimes people go as one another dates when they want to trigger some free advertising for an upcoming movie. Someone next to me on the red carpet wondered if she was showing a slight baby bump, so I looked real close from the side and all I saw was your basic skinny actress body. So I dunno.
Oscars v. Globes: I know the Globes are so fun because everyone gets sloshed, but I gotta tell you, there were at least a couple people last night who I would swear were drunk. Diana Ossana, for one, later confirmed when the camera caught her drinking in her seat. Is there an open bar at the Oscars?
William Booth: Big time.
Alexandria, Va.: I thought Sandra Bullock looked exhausted and kind of puffy. Anyone else think so or am I just being incredibly catty?
Hank Stuever: I thought she looked fine.
Courtenay, BC, Canada: Did George Clooney have a date for the evening or does he always attend these affairs alone?
William Booth: No, Hank recalls seeing Mr Clooney on the carpet with a woman he believes to be his agent. Clooney makes kind of a thing about not discussing his romantic life, which is good, we think, because it must be so sad and lonely.
Baton Rouge, La.: Is Dolly Parton ill? She looked unnaturally thin and scary.
William Booth: Cheek bones were visible.
Arlington, Va.: Why is Jon Stewart getting such a bad rap? I thought much of his sublte humour was spot-on. He seemed to tick off some of the Hollywood elite, and I loved it. I found myself laughing at many of his comments moments after he spoke. In other words, it took some thought, but when I got it, it was hillarious.
His performance wasn't laugh out loud funny like Chris Rock's (who also got unjustly slammed), but in true "Daily Show" fashion, it was subtle, smart humor. What's the matter? Are most people -- Hollywood -- just not smart enough to understand?
Hank Stuever: From what I saw -- and keep in mind, I don't get to just sit and stare at the show, I'm typing like a wacked out Ritalin kid the whole night -- the Jon Stewart hosting thing was fine. I loved the sketches and the Daily Show flavor. And it moved along at a good clip. I'm sort of with you: What do people want, for chrissakes? We wind up tearing the host to shreds every year. Who do you think they'll persuade to do it next year? Or in 2008? Who are the possibilities anymore?
Champaign, Ill.: From your observations, how contemptuous are celebrities of the average joe?
Hank Stuever: Not very. You know what it is, though? In person, when they are on red carpets or at semi-exclusive awards show afterparties, the celebrities are keeeeenly aware of being watched by all eyes, and this makes them understandably wary, possibly aloof. This is what makes the VF party the shining exception -- they are without VIP rooms. We all mingle together. By about 1 a.m. the room is very relaxed.
But back to your -- way too broad -- question. I don't think celebrities revile the average joe, especially when he's ponying up to see their movies or buy their output.
Bethesda, Md.: I did not watch the other four films which were also nominated for the best picture but I watched "Crash." In my opinion, this film was far from deserving to win the Oscar. It was tedious and weak. The only thing I could come up with as to how it won is that Hollywood has bent over backward and accommodated those right-wing conservatives who threatened to boycott if they picked any gay-related film to win. What a shame.
William Booth: Noted. Backstage, director Ang Lee was asked if he thought BB got passed over because of the subject matter and he replied "I don't know." Which is not like saying "of course not."
Burke, Va.: What was the most fun thing you saw?
Hank Stuever: I saw Madonna. Mere feet away from me. This completes a lifelong dream.
I'm going to write more about this in tomorrow's party story, but let me just say, of the dozens of famous people I've ever met, Madonna is in the oh-ma-gaw category. I almost tittered. So to again answer the earlier question, apparently I'm NOT going back into any closet.
Alexandria, Va.: I was rooting for "Brokeback" right up unitl Diana Ossana came up to accept the award for Best Adapted Screenplay - she came off as cold and blase, like she really expected it and deserved it. After that, I didn't want her to win the Best Picture! Anyway, the "Crash" people looked absoultely thrilled, so good for them.
William Booth: The Crash people went nuts. They were on cloud nine. You know, how everyone always says, well, this was so unexpected? With the Crashers, you believed them.
Does one still chug a tall boy ?: I thought people were drinkin' 40's nowadays.
William Booth: Alas, I knew them well.
Tinseltown: 1. How did Jennifer Aniston look? 2. How did Jennifer Aniston's hair look? 3. Which has more personality?
William Booth: Jennifer Aniston's hair exists on a different hair sphere. It is as if she uses the product of the gods. So, our answer would be: hair.
Potomac, Md.: So did you see or speak with Jake Gyllenhaal? He is so fine and seems very down to earth, too.
Hank Stuever: I said hi to him. He was chit chatting with his sister's squeeze, Peter Sarsgaard. Stubble heaven. I was standing there being oafy and lurky. Like everyone on a movie screen, both guys look both better and yet somehow slighter than in pictures.
Washington, D.C.: Do think the "Academy" was reluctant to award Best Picture to a same-sex love story, and so chose a "not-Brokeback" alternative? It seems hard to explain their action, given the very mixed reviews of "Crash" (it won only one Best Picture award previously, from Roger Ebert's Chicago Film Critics) and low box office relative to "Brokeback."
William Booth: Interesting factoid. On the rottentomatoes website, which collates all the critical reviews and then rates a movie, the best reviewed movies in the running were neither Crash nor BB, but Capote.
Dope Face!!!: Hank, I'm still laughing, but elaborate (besides the obvious reasons) why Keanu Reeves has earned such a distinguished moniker from you.
Hank Stuever: I just made it up. Works, though, yes? It could taken a few different ways. Sorta stonerish, sorta too calm.
Oh, and to correct what Bill THINKS he heard me say, Clooney's agent who went with him to the show IS A MAN, BABY. An old man.
Alexandria, Va.: So...the Clooney. Seems so perfect -- charming, intelligent, funny, and droolworthily handsome. He was really nice to a relative of mine when they met, made her feel like the only woman in the room. Is he really a jerk or something? He seems too good to be true.
Hank Stuever: So far I think he's good and true.
He has nicely filled that handsome, affable movie star niche that we haven't had in decades. He takes what the 40s guys had, but also what the '70s guys sorta had too. Your admiration is deserved.
Not Your Wives, Honest: OK, which drunken (or not) Hollywood stars hit on either of you?
William Booth: Jennifer Lopez expressed interest.
Riverdale, Md.: Apologies if this is a bit off-topic, but I could use a bit of Oscar 101, cause I'm confused.
Clooney wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
He was, um, kind of the main character in "Syriana," wasn't he? How is that supporting?
Hank Stuever: It's always odd -- how is Jake G. a "supporting" character in Brokeback? (Unless you view it as Ennis's story, contained largely in Wyoming.) Likewise, let's not view Syriana strictly as a story about Clooney's CIA agent. It's an ensemble piece. The star of the movie is big oil, right? Everyone else comes and goes. That would be my justification. Less esoterically, you could just add up screentime and see how it shakes out?
Arlington, Va.: VF Party: I heard someone say that celebs get invitations with a 15-minute arrival window. Is that true? I've heard even Oscar-winners are turned away if it's too crowded but I didn't know they had timed arrivals.
William Booth: We don't think the window thing is true for invited guests. Though the Los Angeles Fire Marshall was present and could have denied access if the party was over-filled.
Bethesda, Md.: Why did you freak out seeing Madonna? Has she been stalking you ?
Hank Stuever: Only in my dreams. Literally. For 20 years, once in awhile, Madonna shows up in my dreams -- sometimes as a pal, sometimes in need of my help, sometimes to lecture me. I'm not alone -- someone did a book in the 1990s where all these people revealed their Madonna dreams.
Fairfax, Va.: I adore Reese, LOVE her. But I have to admit that her speech made me think of Tracy Flick, her character from "Election." Seemed wayyyy over the top. Also, what is wrong with Ryan Phillippe? Every time I see them together (at HER events), he looks annoyed. Is it jealousy?
William Booth: Reese Witherspoon, we suspect, could become the most dangerous person in America.
Sarsgaard: So very very cute -- add him to the list. And tomorrow's his birthday.
Hank Stuever: What should we get him?
What to get the heavy-lidded dreamboat who has everything?
You know, watching him talk to Gyllenhaal I was thinking about all the hype surrounding BB Mountain and what it would do to Jake's and Heath's future roles in movies, career, etc. And here's Peter Sarsgaard who has done MUCH MORE and more explicit gay-themed stuff (Kinsey; and how about those steamy scenes in the Dying Gaul?) and yet he has plennnty of work, in mainstream films and art films.
Sunny, Fl.: RE: Maggie's squeeze... I don't think a Gyllenhaal should be allowed to date a Sarsgaard-- too many a's. Did Jake bring a date?
Hank Stuever: Jake did, and I have no clue who she is. Us Weekly would know. Or one of you might know.
Dallas, Tex.: I've got to say my favorite part was Altman, and the incredible Meryl-Lily lead-in. And Meryl looked great in that slinky thing instead of the usual matron gowns.
Hank Stuever: That WAS funny, wasn't it?
Baltimore, Md.: Was Felicity there alone? What happened to Bill Macy?
Hank Stuever: He was with her all night. I saw him -- nice gray, pinstripey sort of tuxedo. They are a handsome couple.
Washington, D.C.: Is it that you think Madonna is attractive? I don't see it. Gap teeth, 70's hair. Yes, very talented but not terribly attractive.
Hank Stuever: Gap teeth rule.
Silver Spring, Md.: So, what happened to Jennifer Garner? Did she slip, trip? All I heard in the background this morning was Diane Sawyer saying how close Jennifer had come to falling on stage.
William Booth: Well, we were watching it on a tv feed in the press room, but she clearly slipped. But then she had a great comeback line. "I do my own stunts."
Fairmont Street NW: We had some really yummy chili last night. We searched for your face but without success. We also had delish peanut butter bars. Maybe next year you'll be with us?
Hank Stuever: Thanks Fairmont. I will say it's been entirely too long since I watched Oscars from the sofa. Maybe someday.
Here's what I never get over: At home, the Oscars seem to go on way too long. But on deadline, the entire thing -- red carpet, show, backstage interviews -- seems to take 20 minutes.
Washington, D.C.: Reese Witherspoon and Julia Stiles must be the two ugliest blondes in Hollywood. One's like a bucktoothed chihuahua, and the other has a flat pie face.
William Booth: Buck-toothed chihuahua? Can we use that?
Re: Celeb questions about "personal life": I noticed that reporters steered cleer from asking Aniston and others "elephant in the room" type personal questions. Is it b/c the publicists have given scary instructions beforehand?
William Booth: What? Did something happen to Jen?
Washington, D.C.: I'm with you on Madonna, but did she look plastic? She has been looking sort of scary lately.
Hank Stuever: She didn't look plastic. I don't think she's had much or any work done. (She says she hasn't.) Won't it be sad the year she show's up to something with cosmetic surgery Duck Face?
Oh ma gaw, read tomorrow for a discussion of Duck Face.
I gotta go write up the party with Bill. Thanks for the chat, friends.
William Booth: Well, this has been a pleasure. We're off to file on last night's parties.
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