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Oscar nominees do lunch

February 14, 2006|Rene Lynch | Times Staff Writer

Felicity Huffman, her hair swept up and a smile rarely out of sight, was clearly having the time of her life playing her latest role -- Oscar nominee -- during the annual luncheon for Academy Award nominees Monday.

Huffman, whose performance in "Transamerica" got her a best actress nod, says that nearly every day, she'll turn to husband William H. Macy and say, "Ooo, I forgot to tell you something," in her serious, there's-something-up voice. But as soon as she has his attention, she slips into her best sing-song voice and croons: "I'm going to the Academy Awards, I'm going to the Academy Awards." Macy falls for it every time, she says.

Huffman was one of several first-time Oscar nominees who briefly let down their cool-collected facade before the lunch at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, taking time to relish their moment in the spotlight. The massive snowstorm in the northeast meant that several nominees had their flights canceled -- including "Brokeback Mountain" director Ang Lee, "Cinderella Man" co-star Paul Giamatti and "The Constant Gardener's" Rachel Weisz -- and missed the lunch.

Not Huffman: "I arrived here early, I help set up, I slept here...."

Even Mr. Cool himself, George Clooney, admitted, "It's a pretty amazing time." In a charcoal pin-striped suit and black button-down, Clooney, who is up for three Oscars in supporting actor, writing and directing categories, mused that if any of his TV "failures" had turned to success, he probably wouldn't be at the luncheon today.

"You wouldn't have thought 'The Facts of Life' would have turned out this way," he said. "If you survive a mullet, you can survive anything."

While most nominees took the "just getting a nomination" is reward enough tack, Terrence Howard was the exception.

Nominated in the lead actor category for "Hustle & Flow," Howard said he plans to spend the hours leading to the March 5 ceremony with family, "praying and hoping that some great thing might happen that day."

For more photos, go to The Envelope at

Times staff writer John Horn contributed to this report.

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