Backstage abuzz as stars meet stars

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By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES — It was a celebrity mash-up backstage at the Academy Awards as A-list presenters and winners met and mingled in the wings, stage right. Tom Hanks met Anne Hathaway. Host Ellen DeGeneres chatted with young Jaden Christopher Syre Smith. And Naomi Watts bumped into George Clooney, literally, as he left the stage and she prepared to take it. And where else but the Oscars could you see a line for the bathroom that included Jack Black, Jerry Seinfeld and Robert Downey Jr.? ...

‘‘Can we just open this now or should we wait?’’ Downey asked Watts about the envelope he held as they prepared to present the award for visual effects.

Black and Will Ferrell high-fived DeGeneres as they made their way to the stage for their opening musical number, then high-fived each other after it ended. A publicist shared instant audience reaction from his Blackberry.

DeGeneres stopped the young Smith to compliment him on his role in the ‘‘Pursuit of Happyness’’ alongside his father, Will Smith.

‘‘If you ever get sick of living with your parents, I’ll take you,’’ DeGeneres told him.

Melissa Etheridge, a winner for her song ‘‘I Need to Wake Up’’ from ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth,’’ yelled ‘‘you’re funny’’ when she passed DeGeneres’ dressing room.

‘‘You’re funny and pretty and sweet and a singer,’’ DeGeneres replied.

After presenting the award for sound editing, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell waited backstage to watch the supporting-actor category won by Alan Arkin, their co-star in ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine.’’

‘‘Wow, congratulations,’’ Kinnear told Arkin.

‘‘I was really moved,’’ Arkin replied.

Kinnear said he and Carell were so nervous they ‘‘were about to puke’’ before the award was announced.

Winners on stage had a chance to fill their allotted 45 seconds of acceptance-speech time with something more meaningful and save the roll call of names for a backstage Web-based alternative — the new ‘‘Thank-You Cam.’’

Academy Awards producer Laura Ziskin came up with the concept months ago to dissuade winners from reading deadly dull lists onstage.

Jennifer Hudson thought about using the Internet camera after she won the best supporting actress award but then couldn’t remember who she wanted to thank.

‘‘I can’t think right now,’’ she said.

Al Gore was introduced to Seinfeld after winning the documentary feature award for ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth.’’

‘‘Man, global warming has to be the hardest way to win an Oscar,’’ the comedian told the former vice president.

Earlier, Helen Mirren joined Hanks and watched DeGeneres on a monitor.

Hathaway approached and asked him, ‘‘I don’t know you, but can I hug you?’’

Early in the show, Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, stood with a stiff face and arms crossed as he watched the opening monologue on a monitor and waited to present the Oscar for art direction with Nicole Kidman.

Craig finally cracked a grin when DeGeneres joked onstage that Americans were the most qualified to fill seats at the Kodak Theatre.

Before the show, guests were greeted backstage by uniformed waiters serving champagne, cranberry-colored cocktails and bottles of Evian with straws.

Gustavo Santaolalla, nominated for his score for ‘‘Babel,’’ sipped gazpacho, while actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who had a role in the film, sipped champagne with Cameron Diaz.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on February 25, 2007 11:47 PM.

The list of winners was the previous entry in this blog.

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