We provide answers to the night's most perplexing head-scratchers

By Adam Markovitz
March 01, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

Who persuaded Michelle Obama to present the award for Best Picture?

A guy who’s used to getting what he wants at Oscar time: Harvey Weinstein. Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan originally wanted the First Lady to attend the awards and secretly slip backstage near the end to make a surprise entrance as a presenter. They asked Weinstein, a friend of the Obamas, to run the idea by the First Lady. She had a scheduling conflict with a White House dinner for state governors but agreed to open the envelope via a live satellite linkup. According to Oscars director Don Mischer, the plan was kept top secret for weeks and referred to only as Operation Florence. ”Nobody on our crew knew about it until Sunday afternoon,” he says. And although no First Lady has ever presented an Academy Award before, Oscar and the White House go way back. In 2002 Laura Bush gushed about the 1956 oil epic Giant in an Errol Morris short film that aired during the show, Ronald Reagan delivered a pretaped address for the ceremony in 1981, and FDR gave a speech during the 1941 Oscars radio broadcast.

Why was Kristen Stewart (right) on crutches on the red carpet?

The Twilight starlet tells EW she cut her foot on a broken bottle two days before the big night. She needed the crutches — and, at one point, a helping hand from pal Jennifer Lawrence — to make it through the preshow pageant but decided to walk on stage unaided when she presented Best Production Design.

First Catherine Zeta-Jones performed ”All That Jazz” from Chicago as an ode to musicals. Then she reunited with costars Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Queen Latifah to present two awards. Why all the love for Chicago?

The fact that the film was exec-produced by Oscar producers Meron and Zadan probably didn’t hurt. But Zadan says the 2002 Best Picture winner was really just a perfect fit for the night’s theme. ”The concept was celebrating the movie musicals of the last decade, [and] Chicago was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1969,” he says. ”Catherine had never performed ‘All That Jazz’ live at the Academy Awards, so we thought it would be thrilling to see her re-create that number.” Plus, Meron says, each of the movies represented by the musical tribute featured a Best Supporting Actress-winning performance: by Zeta-Jones for Chicago, Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls, and Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (although she technically didn’t win her award until after the number).

What was up with that fake headline ”Best Oscars ever, says everyone except ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”?

Our best guess? Seth MacFarlane remembers some tough reviews we gave him and his shows over the years. (But this joke gets a solid B+!)

When the Avengers cast assembled to present two awards, why weren’t costars Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth included?

According to a rep for Johansson, the actress was asked to participate but couldn’t leave NYC because of commitments to her Broadway show Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Hemsworth’s publicist didn’t return calls for comment.

Why wasn’t the orchestra in the same building as the show?

It was nothing personal. The producers say the musicians were moved a few blocks away to the Capitol Records building when it became clear that some of the night’s musical numbers wouldn’t leave enough space for a 65-person orchestra to fit in a pit or on stage.

Has there ever been a tie before, like the one between Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall for Best Sound Editing?

Yup. In fact, there have been five, most notably when Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) shared Best Actress at the 1969 ceremony.

Who was the young woman tearing up on stage when Inocente won for Best Documentary Short? The director mentioned that a year ago she was homeless.

That was Inocente Izucar, who was 15 and indeed homeless when directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine began filming their Oscar-winning portrait of her struggle to become an artist. Now 19, Izucar has her own apartment and supports herself on the sales of her paintings. ”I got an opportunity to do another art show in New York,” she says. ”I don’t even want to imagine where I would be if there wasn’t the documentary and everything that’s going on with it.”

How did Meryl Streep know who won Best Actor if she didn’t even open the envelope?

In true Streep-ian fashion, Meryl walked on stage fully prepared for her performance: She had opened the envelope in the wings. But her move caught even Mischer by surprise: ”That kind of threw me. I like to cut to these boxes [on screen] where you see everybody and the winner pops up full. She said the winner before we could even blow up the box with the winner!”

Did MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth have the lyrics for their end-credits ode to losers ready before the show?

Nope, the ditty was written throughout the night as winners were announced. ”Seth wrote a template, a framework [ahead of time],” says Mischer. ”There was a big joke about Argo not winning, but since Argo won, we had to rewrite it. It was being rewritten until the last award.”

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 108 minutes
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