YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Really winging it

While the main show goes on, a quite different one takes place backstage.

March 01, 2004|Rachel Abramowitz | Times Staff Writer

"Hey, it's 'Oprah,' " Bill Murray said, spotting the camera crew from Oprah Winfrey's talk show backstage at the Oscars.

The crew was shooting segments to be seen on "Oprah" this week. And backstage wasn't a bad place to be Sunday night if you were hunting celebrities with downtime -- from Catherine Zeta-Jones to Jack Black. They had a green room, of course (tricked out by Architectural Digest), but some preferred lingering in the wings.

"Are you doing something special up there?" celebrity presenter Sandra Bullock asked celebrity presenter John Cusack.

"Real special," Cusack said. "You?"

"Not really," Bullock said.

Bullock and John Travolta presented Oscars for best sound mixing and editing. Cusack went onstage with Diane Lane to present the award for best documentary short.

Murray, who presented the clip of best picture nominee "Lost in Translation," the film for which he was also up for best actor, chatted up the backstage hoi polloi.

They included stagehands moving a large harp ("You got the heavy one," he said). At one point, Murray impressed Benoit Charest, composer of "The Triplets of Belleville," the film's Oscar-nominated title song, by singing a part of the number to him.

Julia Roberts found her pal, Winfrey. "It's scary up there," Roberts said. She had introduced the film tribute to Katharine Hepburn.

Meanwhile, back in the camera truck, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise were sitting with Oscar telecast executive producer Joe Roth. Until things got too crowded.

"I couldn't handle that truck," Spielberg said to Cruise afterward. "There's so much stress in there."

Before the show, Roth, who Sunday night became the first studio head who's also a director to executive produce an Oscar telecast, did his best to welcome the stars on the red carpet.

Though it would be nice to imagine sparkling conversation at all times, the charged evening can also produce its share of party banalities. And so there was this exchange between Roth and best actor nominee Jude Law.

Roth: "Thanks for coming."

Law: "Thanks for having us."

Johnny Depp's arrival produced the loudest cheers from the bleacher crowd, while director Francis Ford Coppola may have been part of the most interesting red-carpet scrum.

Coppola could be seen chatting with Roy Disney, Oscar-nominated for the animated short film "Destino" and currently embroiled in a very public fight to oust current Disney chief Michael Eisner from atop the famed studio. Disney and Coppola were joined in jolly conversation by several people from Pixar, the acclaimed animation studio that recently broke ties with Disney.

Even with all the TV lights it was cold on the carpet -- so cold the hair on pop diva Annie Lennox's arm was standing on end. To warm if not the skin then the cockles of their hearts, women wore lots of diamonds -- so many that one studio exec observed that her jewels "cost more than a house."

Roth said that the dress worn by celebrity interviewer Maria Menudos had $2.5-million worth of diamonds on it. No word on whether she wore it to get a bite afterward at Johnny Rockets.

Los Angeles Times Articles