EW asks -- and answers -- all your Oscar burning questions

By EW Staff
Updated March 30, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

by Rebecca Ascher Walsh and Daniel Fierman

Q: Danny DeVito grazing on carrots: Explain.
A: ”He brought them with him from his house,” says his spokesperson. ”[Producer] Gil Cates saw him and planned the dip thing on the spot. Danny thought it was very funny — he just didn’t think he’d get caught. He said to me afterwards, ‘Was that on TV?’ and I said, ‘Ohhhh, yeah.”’

Q: How did Bangle Susanna Hoffs snag the dueting gig with Randy Newman, singing ”A Fool in Love” from ”Meet the Parents”?
A: Meet Hoffs’ husband, ”Parents” director Jay Roach.

Q: Why wasn’t Billy Bob Thornton beside his jolie Angelina?
A: Duty called: Thornton was in Louisiana, where he’s playing a sheriff in ”Behind the Sun.” (Also missing was Michael Caine, who, by rights of his 2000 win, should have presented Best Supporting Actress but was in Australia filming ”The Quiet American.”)

Q: Writer director Richard LaGravenese (”Living Out Loud”) wasn’t credited alongside Susannah Grant for his work on Erin Brockovich, so how ’bout those glowing words from Julia?
A: ”I am so grateful,” he gushes. ”I told [Julia] that she lifted the spirits of every screenwriter who has been uncredited because of union rules. She made a great push forward for writers.”

Q: J. Lo be damned, the Oscars were a bust without Erin Brockovich. Why didn’t she show?
A: ”She was at home taking care of her sick daughter,” says her agent. ”She also felt like it was kind of Julia’s night.” No argument there.

Q: Was the opening sequence really shot in outer space?
A: Yup. Before the last shuttle launching, Cates and senior executive consultant Robert Shapiro had the cutout of Steve Martin sent to Florida; then the space station simply transmitted the images.

Q: ”Gladiator” director Ridley Scott got thanked more than the Almighty after a Super Bowl win — what was with the sour puss?
A: ”I thought [everyone] was very sweet,” says the filmmaker, explaining that where he’s from, the long face is ”Celtic for being thrilled.”

Q: Don’t the screenplay awards usually come before Best Actor and Actress?
A: ”The order changes every year,” according to a show spokesperson. ”It’s not written in stone.”

Q: Let’s talk tuxes: Did Nicole get custody of Tom’s?
A: Cruise, who wasn’t listed as a presenter because Cates wanted to keep his appearance a surprise, wished to remain ”low key,” says Cates. The casual look wasn’t that unusual: ”Tom often doesn’t wear a tux to these things,” adds his spokesperson.

Q: How did the producers handle Arthur C. Clarke’s announcement of the adapted screenplay winner from Sri Lanka?
A: It was nothing out of this world. Clarke pretaped five different answers, and when PricewaterhouseCoopers gave the word, a producer played the right tape.

Q: Steven Soderbergh wondered aloud if he should return to work on ”Ocean’s Eleven” on Monday — did he and Oscar head to Tahiti instead?
A: Alas, it was back to the grindstone. Soderbergh’s spokesperson confirms he was in Las Vegas the next morning.

Q: So who won the TV?
A: Best Animated Short winner Michael Dudok de Wit (18 seconds) proved that brevity is not only the soul of wit — it can score you some electronic equipment, too. But never let it be said that giving doesn’t start at the Oscars — de Wit announced on Tuesday he’s donating the set to charity.