Update: Now with answers about Sean Penn’s green card comment and NPH’s magic trick
Who the heck are Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens, anyway?
It’s a fair question, one probably asked by more than a few people at your Oscar viewing party—and it wasn’t the only one that the evening inspired. Aside from those two guys—who look a hell of a lot like Common and John Legend—Hollywood’s biggest night presented a few other head-scratchers. Luckily, EW is collecting the answers you crave.
Check out our list of Oscars burning questions below; we’ll update the post as we learn more about everything that happened at the Academy Awards this year.
Q: People were outraged that Joan Rivers was absent from the In Memoriam montage. Who decides who makes the cut?
A: The Academy has a panel that decides who gets included. The show’s producers do not get a say in who is included or excluded from the package, and they don’t want that power because it leads to pressure from the film community (and hard feelings from the public when someone is left out). Every year, a certain number of people are not included in the final montage—for reasons only the Academy knows. Rivers is, however, included in the 129-slide In Memoriam photo gallery on the Oscars’ website, which also includes a few other faces who didn’t make it into the telecast (like Jan Hooks and Elaine Stritch.)
Q: How did host Neil Patrick Harris pull off that trick with his predictions in the briefcase?
A: No one tampered with the box holding the envelope during the ceremony, and there was no way he could have -prepared it in advance. Derek DelGaudio, one of NPH’s writers and a fellow magic man, claims it was all the work of “precognition…. I can assure you there was absolutely no sleight of hand involved.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.
Q: Why did Sean Penn joke about Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s green card?
A: Penn’s quip before announcing the Best Picture winner was deemed tasteless by many—but not by Iñárritu. “I didn’t find it offensive,” the Mexican filmmaker told reporters. “I thought it was very funny.” The two share a long history of razzing each other, Iñárritu explained, dating back to the set of 21 Grams, his 2003 film that starred Penn.
Q: Did the producers tell the band to stop playing off Pawel Pawlikowski, director of Best Foreign Film winner Ida, during his acceptance speech?
A: The show’s producers were watching the ceremony from the wings, and didn’t directly tell their director to cut the musical interruption. But when a winner starts saying something emotional or meaningful (rather than rattling through a list of names), the director of the Academy Awards is free to back off the music.
Q: Was that Will Arnett in the Batman suit?
A: Yes. Fun fact: As EW’s Anthony Breznican observed backstage at the ceremony, Arnett’s Arrested Development co-star Jason Bateman was presenting the live-action and documentary short awards with Kerry Washington. Before walking out, Bateman asked: “Was that Arnett playing guitar as Batman? Which way is he coming? I’ve got to see him.” Moments later, Captain America star Chris Evans came back to prepare for his presentation. Warned that Batman was nearby and that there was potential for a DC/Marvel throwdown, he put up his dukes. “Let me at him!” Evans said. “He’s going down!”
Q: Why did “John Stephens” and “Lonnie Lynn” win Oscars for Best Original Song instead of “John Legend” and “Common”?
A: The names on the Oscar ballot for Best Song are tied directly to songwriting credit, as the award is for writing, not performing. As a rep for Legend explains, “He writes under John Stephens, so writer awards would be to his legal name and performance awards to artist name.” Meanwhile, Common is registered with the American Society of Composers, Author, and Publishers as Lonnie Lynn, his birth name. For another example, see the Oscar-winning song “Skyfall”—awarded to Adele Adkins.