Q. What on earth was Sean Penn talking about?
Presenting the Best Actress prize, the star said he and the Academy had both failed ”to acknowledge the same actress in our own ways in two years running.” Our guess: Penn meant estranged wife Robin Wright, whom he left out of his Oscar speech last year (the two split in August), and whose turn in 2009’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee was ignored by the Academy. ”[Sean] said that’s as reasonable an interpretation as anyone could make,” says the star’s rep.
Q. Who was Meryl’s date?
See the family resemblance? The actress’ escort was her little brother Harry. (Streep’s husband watched at home, says her publicist.)
Q. Why wasn’t Farrah Fawcett in the memorial montage?
”We can’t include all of the notable people who pass away,” says an Academy spokesperson. Still, the snub left Ryan O’Neal ”disappointed,” according to his rep.
Q. What prompted the salute to horror films?
Producer Adam Shankman got the idea when horror icon Roger Corman received an honorary Oscar in November. ”It started there, but we never publicly linked it to that,” he explains.
Q. Did Ben Stiller get James Cameron’s blessing for his Avatar getup?
Nope. ”No one knew about it,” says Shankman, who helped coordinate the surprise stunt. ”Very few of the crew knew about it. We did it all very quietly. I personally loved it.”
Q. Who interrupted the Best Documentary Short winner during his speech?
That was producer Elinor Burkett, whose name was also called. She and director Roger Ross Williams haven’t been speaking due to a creative dispute over their film, Music by Prudence (about a disabled Zimbabwean singer). After the incident, Williams told reporters that Burkett wasn’t supposed to accept the award with him. But she says that no such arrangement had been made. ”I had as much right to be up there as Roger did,” Burkett says. ”His Oscar is not bigger than my Oscar.”
Q. Cameron Diaz was joking about Jude Law, right?
After the actress called co-presenter Steve Carell ”Jude,” he admitted that his teleprompter patter — about how good-looking he is — was originally written for Jude Law. ”It was a scripted bit,” confirms Diaz’s rep.
Q. Why did presenters say ”And the winner is…” instead of ”And the Oscar goes to…”?
”I always thought it was overly polite. I wanted a sense of tension in the show,” says Shankman. ”We thought of [the Oscars] as the most well-dressed reality competition show in the world.”
Q. Precious‘ Oprah, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, and Gabourey Sidibe all wore blue. Coincidence?
Yup. But the color had special meaning for Mo’Nique — who chose royal blue because that’s what Hattie McDaniel wore when she became the first African-American Oscar winner in 1940 — and for Sidibe, whose gem-colored Marchesa gown was conceived as a nod to Sapphire, the author of the novel Push.(Additional reporting by Adam B. Vary)