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Oscars 2012: Burning questions

Why was Tom Hanks limping? What was that movie Colin Firth made with a young Michelle Williams? You’re dying to know — so we found out!

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What inspired Community star Jim Rash — who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants — to mock Angelina Jolie’s hip-cocked stance on stage?

Jolie struck a statuesque pose while presenting the Adapted Screenplay award to the Descendants team of Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Rash, who also plays Dean Pelton on NBC’s Community. ”I knew Alexander was going to take the reins [for the acceptance speech], so I was like, ‘How can I make a moment?’ — selfishly,” says Rash, who was told by Oscar producers that only one person in his group would be allowed to speak if they won. “Honestly, as soon as I saw her pose like that, I was like, ‘I’m going to do that…’ I almost thought it was a little Dean Pelton, somehow. Because I have stood like that [on Community].”

Moments later, Alexander Payne said something to his mom in a foreign language. What was it?

”S’agapo poli” — Greek for ”I love you very much.” Payne and his mom are of Greek descent.

While presenting Best Actress, Colin Firth mentioned making a film with Michelle Williams. And a montage featured Brad Pitt describing a monster pic about battling ”gargantuas.” What movies were they talking about?

Firth was referencing A Thousand Acres, the 1997 drama in which he appeared with Michelle Pfeiffer and a then-16-year-old Michelle Williams (above). (Firth mistakenly said Williams was 12 at the time.) Pitt’s movie pick was The War of the Gargantuas, an obscure 1966 Japanese horror film about giant hairy monsters in Tokyo.

Who were the members of the house band in the balcony?

The supergroup was led by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer and rapper-producer Pharrell Williams. Former Prince protégéee Sheila E. (”The Glamorous Life”) split drum duty with Williams, while Oscar winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) provided vocals and keyboards. The ballgowned violinist was Anne Marie Calhoun, who performed on Zimmer’s Oscar-nominated soundtrack for 2009’s Sherlock Holmes.

Who wrote the hilarious skit about a focus group watching The Wizard of Oz?

The black-and-white scene — in which a group of laypeople (including Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard) give outrageous feedback on a test screening of The Wizard of Oz — was written by host Billy Crystal and mockumentarian Christopher Guest. ”Those of us who produce these kinds of things, we know how much focus groups are actually listened to,” says Don Mischer, who produced the telecast with Brian Grazer. ”So to be able to make fun of a focus group, it’s fun for us.”

Was Sean Young really arrested at an Oscars after-party?

Yes. The actress, best known for ’80s hits like Blade Runner, was placed under citizen’s arrest outside the Governors Ball, taken by police to a Hollywood precinct, and booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. In a statement to People, the 52-year-old actress (above) claimed she was chatting with friends outside the party — to which she did not have an official invitation — when an Academy lawyer told a security guard to make her leave. Young admitted that she then ”struck” the guard. She posted $20,000 bail and was released early Monday morning.

 

Why was Tom Hanks limping when he walked on stage to present the award for Best Cinematography?

In a postshow tweet, the two-time Oscar winner explained that his hobble was in honor of Halle Berry, who was slated as Hanks’ co-presenter before she bowed out on account of a broken foot.

Speaking of Best Cinematography, why did the show break with tradition by giving out that award first?

Ratings, what else! Mischer says viewership is still climbing at the beginning of the show. ”You want to save the more popular categories like Supporting Actor and sprinkle them out. If you lead with Supporting, you use up a really good wild card. So we saved the first acting awards for 25 to 30 minutes in.”

 

(Additional reporting by Lynette Rice and Adam B. Vary)