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The Academy Awards: The Social Scene

William Booth and Hank Stuever
Washington Post Style Staff Writers
Monday, February 25, 2008 2:00 PM

Want to know what really happened behind the scenes at the Oscars? Which celebs shined and which were behaving badly?

From the red carpet to backstage to the after-parties, Style staff writers William Booth and Hank Stuever have the scoop on what really went down during Hollywood's biggest night.

They were online Monday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. ET to answer your questions and dish all the Oscar dirt.

A transcript follows.

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Hank Stuever: Good morning or afternoon, whatever the case may be. It's finally a nice sunny day in LA, safe to come outside and dish. We filed Oscar stuff last night and then went to what we could of the party choices. We're here for your questions, but, far more fun for us, your thoughts, analysis and snark of one the most important nights in the world. On that note, check out this poozer:

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Hollywood: No offense, but who cares? Most of us don't get to go to these shallow, vapid things, no one who goes really likes to be there, they're all idiotic, and most of the U.S. population can't afford to go, and won't ever go. And these people are so rich compared to the average U.S. resident, it's just insane to give a dern about this scene. Again: With very real economic, war, environmental, monetary, educational and crime issues occurring in the world, who cares about these stupid parties? Most of us just don't care.

Hank Stuever: I mean really.

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Huntsville, Ala.: Which was considered by most "The After Party" and why?

William Booth: Last year's Vanity Fair party.

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Columbia Hgts, Washington, D.C.: Hank -- Fairmont Street checking in. Sweetie, next time, call me and I'll tell you that DDL is Irish. Okay, so he was born British ... but now has Irish citizenship. The chili was spicy and the ballot race was close. No one voted for the French woman; we figure her award was the result of a Julie Christie/Laura Linney split. Everyone loooovves Johnny Depp, and the most heartwarming part of the show was when Jon Stewart invited the Once winner back onstage to give her speech.

Hank Stuever: Thanks, Fairmont. So is DDL dually-citizened? I think our calling him British actually came in the editing, after I filed, but if it's wrong, man, I'll own it.

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William Booth: Actually, regarding the after parties, I don't know if there was The One. It appears that the holders of golden tickets went first to the Governors Ball, which is hosted by the Academy and reminds me of your cousin Brian's wedding, and then they migrated via town car and limo over to Elton John's charity fiesta.

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Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:: Harrison Ford: Why, in every public appearance over the past number of years, does it appear he's just had a stroke? In a number of different appearances, he has trouble speaking--but always seems fine in his movies. No one has been able to give a solid answer on this topic!

Hank Stuever: I saw him at the Elton John party and kinda thought the same thing. It's not quite strokey, and not exactly lushy, but it's a sort of languor? Maybe he just needs a bullwhip and a fedora? In any case, he was being shown much love by the attendees at Elton, who are generally Los Angeles people who paid big money to go to Elton's Oscar fund raiser, and HF was gracious and kind to all sorts of people who came up to him to pay homage to Han Solo/Indy -- almost like it was a Comicon. He was at a table with Quincy Jones. Calista Flockhart (HF's sig other) was there too -- looking healthy.

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Fairfax County, Va.: I have a question about who gets invited to attend the Oscars. It seems like a lot of young (sort of lightweight) actors and especially actresses are there, which makes me wonder about older legends who are not present. Also, if you've won an Oscar within a certain timeframe (i.e., past year), do you automatically get an invitation? If you've won a certain number of Oscars in your career, do you get an invitation?

William Booth: Well, Hollywood is nothing if not young, light actors, no? The people who get invited (tickets) to the Academy Awards are nominees, past nominees, studio heavies, agents, managers, rich people, media with connections, rich people and talent -- and various spouses of all of the above. There are lots of young people, but that is the town. You do see more older folks in person than on television. My lord, at the Governors Ball? The back wall looked like a bingo hall.

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Anonymous: Hmm. Last year's party? Is that a slam of this year's parties?

William Booth: Hmmm.

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Anonymous: I think that the people that go do care.

William Booth: They must. The show last three hours and twenty minutes. Factor in shower, shave, parking, and that's your Sunday. Though I have heard from attendees up in the nose-bleed seats that they do get a bit antsy after two hours. You see, it is a TV show, so during the commerical breaks? The show stops.

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Alexandria, Va.: So, you were there in person, now tell us anyone being unfairly trashed on the red carpet? Did someone look more fab than they seemed on our screens?

Hank Stuever: Clooney's girlfriend Sarah Larson. I looked at her Valentino and thought about how many people would be "meh"-ing it on Monday and I also felt huge sympathy for her -- since she's not exactly a publicity-hungry celeb. But the dressing is just as important for a civilian who makes the sacrifice of giving herself to the cause of dating George Clooney. I wondered if the snark punditry would be kind or not, or give her a pass because hey, when it comes down to it, she's just his girlfriend. Then again, she chose to say yes. Clooney is usually dateless at Oscars. So yay for her, but um, boo for the dress? She seemed very nice, and not at all overwhelmed.

Also this about Clooney: It takes him forever to walk down the carpet because he will talk to everybody. Not because he's a publicity whore, but because I think he truly believes everyone deserves a turn. He winds up doing a lot of AM radio and international pop culture shows on the red carpet. Kind and talkative to all, even for audiences who don't speak English.

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Anonymous: So, you did not get even one invite to major party? I thought you guys had the scoop?

William Booth: Oh, my friend, we did the two big parties, the Governors Ball, or GoBa as we are branding it, and Elton's. We saw everybody, did everybody. Seriously, we closed the GoBa down with Viggo and the Vulcan.

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Washington, D.C.: Is it true that Prince had an after-party? Thought I heard Seacrest say that on E! If so, did you go?

Hank Stuever: Prince has a no-press Oscar afterparty at his LA house, yes. But I got to see him at Elton's party. I wanted to say, hey, aren't you supposed to be having a party at your house pretty soon (and may I go to it?). But he was on his way out the door, about 11, so I assume he had to get home and scrub the toilets and put out guest towels and pop the Trader Joe's in the oven. Oh, and tune his guitar, because it's always a concert, too. James McAvoy said he was going ......

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Boston, Mass.: So what was the reaction to Tilda's win? I think she's a mah-velous actress, but did she appear a bit haughty to anyone (I'm thinking of her backstage interview)? Did folks care that she was ready to hand over the Oscar to her agent?

William Booth: Tilda Swinton is an head turner. While she often plays the British upperclass or a royal -- she's quite rock n roll. Like, she peppers her answers with "hey, man." We quite like her. After she answered our questions backstage, she roamed around "our" hallways eating "our" lukewarm pasta and suspicious "shrimp."

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Bethesda, Md.: Did either of you witness the Gary Busey incident in person?

William Booth: Whaaaa? More?

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Huntsville, Ala.: What special, exclusive bit of trivia can you give us that has not been mentioned anywhere yet.(Concerning last night's events.)

Hank Stuever: Jason Bateman wears yellow makeup.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: I noticed Harrison Ford's stroke-ish look, too. (In fact, I googled it and that's how I ended up here.) The whole left side of his face droops and he speaks out of the right side of his mouth. Definitely SOMETHING neurological there.

Hank Stuever: Well, press junkets for Indy 4 are just around the corner, so maybe someone will say, hey, what up witchya face? (And promptly be escorted away from the Four Seasons...)

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re: the host: did you see Jon Stewart or any of his "entourage" partying?

William Booth: Big time. Jon worked the GoBa like a Hillary operative in an Iowa donut shop. He was Mr. Ambassador, didn't see a hand he wouldn't shake. We had a nice chat. His entourage of TDS writers (men) had a table in the back and they were pleased with themselves, show. They were eating chocolate globes.

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Arlington, VA: Did you get to see Ellen in person?? Talk to her? Anything? I often wonder how she is in person compared to her talk-show persona.

Hank Stuever: Ellen co-sponsored the Elton party, but she was not at the Oscars, as I think there is some sort of superstition about last year's host being present for this year. By the time I got to Elton's party, Ellen was gone.

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Busey: As you were on the red carpet at the time, you probably could not see E!'s coverage. But Gary Busey accosted Jennifer Garner, Laura Linney and Ryan Seacrest, creating the freakiest moment of red carpet television ever.

It was stellar.

William Booth: Thank you Busy Chat Person. Now, people, pay attention. This is how its done. Its a Chat. That two way information flow. Well done! Stellar. Thank you for the feed.

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Alexandria, Va.: What was Viggo like? Did he say anything about me???

William Booth: Funny you should ask...

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Chevy Chase, Md.: How do they select on who should host the Oscar? Next time they need to select someone much better than Jan Stuart. I personally think he sucks!

William Booth: Maybe Gayloff Titler?

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Arlington, Va.: What was the deal with John Travolta's hair? It looked like a painted on helmet, did it appear so in person? Thanks.

Hank Stuever: We are still puzzling over it, but safe to say it won't be catching on. Bill called it Vuclan in his story today, and he thanks you for your bewilderment, which validates his own. Is it a Caesar?

On the red carpet, I love to check out male hairstyles, because it's about the cut (or lack of one), whereas the female hair is all science (chemicals, synthetics, add-subtract). Some men just have great heads of hair. The aforementioned Jason Bateman, who I just accused of wearing gobs of yellow makeup (he does), has gorgeous hair.

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DDL's citizenship: Not sure under what circumstances he took out Irish citizenship, but as his father is Irish, it's not terribly hard to do, and in fact, not particularly uncommon to find people with dual British-Irish citizenship.

William Booth: He's Anglo-Irish I believe.

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New York City: I know we now live in a non-judgmental world, but did anyone comment on the crass, vulgar-looking Diablo Cody? I mean glamourous Hollywood she is not -- in fact, she is downright vulgar! Not just her inked up arms, and trashy attire, but she had to be bleeped multiple times on Letterman for profanity.

Did anyone shake their head in disgust at this stripper/writer?

Hank Stuever: No. That kind of woman is an early 21-st century archetype. The triumph of the punk girl. She or someone like her will be revered 80 years from now, sort of like a flapper from the 1920s or something. She will remind future generations of their fun grandma.

That said, Bill followed her around all night with a crisp 20 dollar bill.

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Olney, Md.: Why on earth does Jessica Alba get any attention at all, esp. at the Oscars? She's a sub-par actress with minimal talent, with no decent movies in her resume (C'mon..."Into the Blue"?!, "Flipper," "Good Luck Chuck.") Why does anyone focus on her at the Oscar? Who cares. And why were the Cohen brothers so lackluster about their award?

William Booth: She's cute? That would be my guess. I also suspect that Alba is pregnant. Maybe pregnant plus cute put her over the top. Or perhaps it is payback for her hosting the Geek Oscars earlier this month where the scientific and technical awards are doled out. Heavy lifting. Regarding the Coen brothers.. They are also like that. Sometime, during an interview, they like to ask: why am I here? Its the Minnesota in them.

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washingtonpost.com: Here is Bill's coverage of the aforementioned Geek Oscars.

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Chicago: Reports are that the TV ratings are in, and they aren't pretty. Wouldn't that indicate that perhaps this night isn't quite as important as you'd like us to believe?

William Booth: We're hearing they are real low... Our TV columnist, Lisa de Moraes, is getting an early still unconfirmed stat of 28 million-ish, which would be one of lowest ever, if not the lowest...

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New York, N.Y.: Seriously Team:

Did you, or did you not feel like second class on the media barometer? If though your feet were on the carpet, you were really on the outside looking in, no? I mean, c'mon, WaPo in Hollywood?

William Booth: Wapo never second banana. Seriously.

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Mt. Vernon Sq: God bless starting late and tivo-ing through the whole thing

William Booth: Apparently you are in good company.

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Texas Tech: Who is in control, the writers or the brass?

Hank Stuever: brass.

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Greeley, Col.: I just wanted to say something about the comments about Harrison Ford, before unfortunate rumors get started. I've followed his career for many years and have watched him in many interviews. He has ALWAYS spoken with a slow drawl, especially during speeches. He suffers from stage fright, which makes it even more pronounced. He's also always had that 'crooked' smile but I believe it's gotten more pronounced with sagging skin that inevitably comes with age. I do not believe there is anything medically wrong. He speaks and looks really good from what I can see in the clips for the new Indiana Jones movie, and he's also an avid, experienced pilot and even flies jets. He could not do that if he was ill. Personally, I think he looks great for his age.

Hank Stuever: Thanks. I was going to say that too -- people age, and they are more interesting for it.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you know why this party-of-all-parties event is held on a Sunday night rather than a Saturday night? And any idea if that will ever change? I thought about hosting an Oscar party this year, but with the 8pm start time on the East Coast, unless you and your friends are all of the sort that don't have kids or 9-5 office jobs, it is not the evening most conducive to late-night festivities. We can't all have your jobs, you know . . .

William Booth: Well, you could apply. But the reason why the Academy stages its Oscars on Sunday nights is to gather the biggest possible TV audience, as Saturday night on the tube is known as "the fiddler's graveyard," or something like that. Regarding your party. What we do is enjoy the heck out of ourselves on Sunday and then call in sick with soar throats. Trust me, they'll never know.

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Stuever on Diablo: Mr. Stuever, I hope I am not too late to add that your comments were eye opening and right on. This is an example of why you are one of the top pop culture critics writing today. Very nice work! Thanks.

Hank Stuever: I can't think of a better comment to close on, can you, Bill?

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William Booth: Wait! My mom's not online! Oh, okay, you're right. Hank's the cat's pajamas. Now we're off to write our story about the after-Oscar parties.

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