The Academy Awards' barkeep's Oscars gossip

April 05, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Forget all the faux smiles and fashion statements — the real Academy Awards story is the bar scene at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Our own Sam Malone, an Oscar bartender with sensitive ears and loose lips, reports on the night’s sobering truths.

Champagne was the big drink of the night. Quentin Tarantino was saying that the difference between being nominated and not being nominated is that last year, the champagne he wanted was waiting for him in his limo, and this year he actually had to go to the bar himself. Poor guy.

Tips were okay. I usually got a dollar from someone for a drink. Some tip stiffers: Brad Pitt, Ed Harris, Pierce Brosnan, and Meryl Streep. Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow weren’t paying much attention to anything else — they were just talking to each other. We figured he was just depressed because whoever his stylist was made him look exactly like Val Kilmer. Ed Harris, we feared, was a little upset over losing. He didn’t look too happy. Pierce Brosnan got a drink right after presenting an award and left his script at the bar. Maybe that was his tip. Meryl Streep wanted a screwdriver — she called it a vodka and orange juice. I was out of vodka, so instead she ordered a gin and tonic, her husband ordered a gin and tonic, and her son had a Coke. Three drinks and I didn’t get a tip. She was just too lovely, though, so I can’t complain. Alicia Silverstone tipped nice.

The most poignant part of the entire show was Christopher Reeve. Whether you were in the auditorium or at one of the bars, when he came out — thunderous applause, then dead silence. No one ordered a drink, no one spoke, no one moved. They were totally, totally riveted, just watching the screen.

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