Where was Similin' Jack at the Oscars?

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Jack Nicholson with his '98 Oscar for his role in "As Good as It Gets." (AP file)

Anyone notice something missing from the Oscars on Sunday night? Why, for instance, did Hugh Jackman, during his opening front-row schtick, wind up sitting in Frank Langella's lap instead of ... Jack Nicholson's?

Smilin' Jack was M.I.A. this year. He even turned down the opportunity to be a presenter, according to Nikki Finke's blog:

"... this year's producers were privately complaining that the biggest movie stars in the world like Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Kate Winslet gave them reasons galore -- some serious, some trivial -- for why they didn't want to present awards, once considered a huge honor. (For instance, Kidman said she appear onstage without the "right" hairdresser. George Clooney wouldn't reschedule his current visit to Darfur refugee camps in Africa. And Winslet, the Best Actress shoo-in, claimed she was too "nervous" to take it on.)"

Two days before showtime, even Jackman seems unaware of whether Jack would be there, telling ABC News:

Asked if there were any stars he's looking forward to seeing on Oscar night, Jackman said he pictures Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row. "I don't know if he's going to be there, [but] I visualize Jack Nicholson ... hopefully smiling, but you never know," he said, laughing.

Perhaps, given his recent complaints about the expansion of "Oscar season," he just opted out to give us some food for thought.

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