EW Staff
April 03, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Was that the longest show ever or what?

Yes. It was the longest Oscar telecast in history, running a whopping 3 hours and 46 minutes (beating the 1984 record by one minute and passing Titanic‘s running time by a half hour). According to ABC, the March 23 telecast also scored Oscar’s biggest ratings in 15 years: ABC reports 87 million U.S. viewers checked out the show.

While accepting their award for Best Original Screenplay, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck said they knew they were forgetting to thank someone. Who got snubbed?

Affleck later admitted that ”We forgot Kevin Smith,” referring to the director who got Miramax to take a second look at the Good Will Hunting script and is now directing Affleck and Damon in Dogma. ”He’s going to kill us.” (The duo also neglected to thank Hunting producer Lawrence Bender.)

Best Foreign Language Film presenter Sharon Stone sent get-well wishes to her father from the podium. How’s he doing?

It’s nothing serious, says Stone’s rep: ”He’s just under the weather with a flu or cold.”

With his telecast stretching to already incredible lengths, did producer Gil Cates freak out when Cameron asked for a moment of silence during his acceptence speech?

”To me, the show is like the Super Bowl,” Cates says. ”I don’t think time is as important as to other shows. No one expects it to be done in 3 hours, at least no one who has been alive in the last 25 years. It’s movie history.”

Speaking of time crunch, why was Jack Nicholson allowed to go on and on with his acceptance speech?

Cates admits that Nicholson got special treatment because ”he’s a big star, I love him, and why not?”

In the endless roll call of past winners, who got the biggest applause inside the auditorium?

Shirley Temple got the longest applause, Gregory Peck the loudest.

Why wasn’t the dog Jill (Verdell) from As Good as It Gets in the animal tribute?

”Frankly, we didn’t think of it until it was too late,” says Cates. ”It was an error of omission. My goof.”

Billy Crystal inserted himself, Zelig-like, into 1997 films for his opening bit, but we didn’t recognize the Kevin Costner movie. Was it from The Postman? (Sorry, Kevin, but we never saw it.)

No, it wasn’t The Postman. Costner filmed the bit especially for the telecast a week earlier.

Who was the most temperamental and difficult star? Marisa Tomei?

No. It was Bart the Bear. According to Cates, ”He’s not domesticated; he weighs 1,500 pounds and eats 45 pounds of chicken a day.” But despite Crystal’s onstage crack about Bart’s unruly bathroom habits, the ursine star did not leave a calling card backstage.

— Rebecca Ascher-Walsh and Dan Snierson (Additional reporting by Celeste Perri and Dave Karger)

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