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Oscar's Mysteries Solved

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Steering clear of such imponderables as ”Did Gwyneth forget to wear a shirt?” we now attempt to shed a little light on Oscar night’s more mystifying moments.

Were Jon Voight and Nastassja Kinski ”together together” or just ”together”?

Just together, according to his publicist: ”They’re old friends.”

Whither Will?

As the Best Actor nominees were announced, Sean Penn wasn’t the only one AWOL: Smith and wife Jada Pinkett departed hastily following the Sidney Poitier tribute after being informed their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Willow, had been taken to the hospital with a 103-degree fever, brought on by an ear infection; by the next morning, she was safely home again. ”Being a father became his priority,” said the actor’s spokesperson.

What the hell happened to Ethan Hawke’s face?

As the ceremony stretched into its fourth day, sorry, hour, cameras revealed that the Best Supporting Actor nominee had what appeared to be a shiner on his right cheek. A rumor had Will Smith decking him, but the truth is, Hawke was the victim of a lipstick-heavy smooch from Denzel Washington’s wife, Pauletta. The mark had vanished by the time Hawke attended Vanity Fair’s after-party.

Why did Best Original Song winner Randy Newman thank Milos Forman and Barry Levinson?

After 16 nominations, the perennial bridesmaid decided to mention a couple of directors who steered him to his other nods: Ragtime (Forman), The Natural, and Avalon (both Levinson).

On the Waterfront is prominently featured in Nora Ephron’s montage of films made in New York — except that it was shot in Hoboken, N.J. Should it have been a contender?

”I could never have left it out,” the filmmaker says. ”It’s not about Hoboken, it’s about the port. No one who made On the Waterfront ever looked at it as a New Jersey movie.”

Were the Smiths (Will, Jada Pinkett, and Maggie) seated together in the first row intentionally, to set up for Whoopi’s joke?

No, says producer Laura Ziskin, who expects us to believe that the host made up the joke on the spot.

When Reese Witherspoon asked copresenter (and husband) Ryan Phillippe if she could announce the winner, he said, ”You make more money than I do. Go ahead.” Does she really bring home the bacon?

And how! Witherspoon got $4-5 million for the upcoming Sweet Home Alabama, while Phillippe scored a reported $1 million for last year’s AntiTrust.

When presenting the award for Best Sound, why did Halle Berry give one of the winners a Monster hug?

According to her publicist, Karen Samfilippo, Berry and sound designer Chris Munro (one of three winners for Black Hawk Down) became friendly on the set of the new James Bond film, Die Another Day.

Okay, so Berry brakes for sound guys — how about costars? Why didn’t she thank Billy Bob Thornton when she won Best Actress? (Lawyer Neil Meyer got two thank-yous.)

”She really wished she had mentioned the cast,” says Samfilippo, who also went unmentioned. ”She would have been up there for a half hour if she had been able to say everybody.” Said Berry herself at an after-party: ”I left out a few people…but nobody’s perfect.” Either way, it’s no skin off Thornton’s nose. ”He’s out of the country,” says a rep for the actor. ”I’m sure he didn’t even see it.”

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