WHO ARE YOU WEARING, RYAN?
That annoying Borat guy, Sacha Baron Cohen, may have found a way to be permanently banned from the Oscars: He "spilled" the "ashes" of the late North Korean leader "Kim Jong Il" on " Ryan Seacrest." Whoops, strike that last set of air quotes. The stuff got all over Seacrest as well as the red carpet. Security collared Cohen and led him away.
Still, he had everyone buzzing for at least a few minutes. Academy Awards officials had asked Cohen not to show up as "The Dictator," his current film role.
Seacrest -- who probably had something like this coming -- managed to towel off, and a few minutes later he was greeting celebs with a new line: "Pardon the dust." "They're about equal. I can walk better as Albert."
-- Nominee Glenn Close, on the red carpet, asked which was tougher: transforming into a man (for "Albert Nobbs") or getting glam for the Oscars IT HAD TO BE BILLY
Billy Crystal returned as Oscar host for the ninth time, although it has been almost a decade since his last stint. Some Crystal gold:
--"Is this the villa? George, let's make pasta, and maybe it will rain." (Crystal was awakened with a kiss from George Clooney in the funny guy's traditional opening movie montage. Justin Bieber turned up, too.)
--"We're here at the beautiful Chapter 11 Theater ..." (It's the Kodak Theatre no longer; Eastman Kodak Co. declared bankruptcy.)
--"Nothing can take the sting out of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues."
--"A dark knight, an American psycho, a charismatic crack addict -- you'll get to choose one on Super Tuesday!" (Introducing presenter Christian Bale)
--"I wanted to hug the first black woman I saw. Which, from Beverly Hills, is about a 45-minute drive." (After Octavia Spencer's win, talking about his reaction to seeing "The Help")
--"Fourteen times, she has sat right there and had to act thrilled when someone else won. So for that I think she deserves another Oscar." (On the much-nominated Meryl Streep)
--And Crystal's meanest joke of the night, speaking of 82-year-old nominee (and eventual winner) Christopher Plummer: "He may be walking up on stage tonight. Because apparently he wanders off." WE DON'T GET THE UGGIE ONE
One Billy Crystal bit that worked had him voicing thoughts of members of the audience. Such as:
--"This better not go too late. I have six parent-teacher conferences in the morning." ( Brad Pitt)
--"I want to thank my writer and director for creating the role of a strong black woman that wasn't played by Tyler Perry." ( Viola Davis)
--"Aaaaaaaaaaagh." (A red-faced Nick Nolte, who scratched his nose while the camera lingered on him)
--"If I had 'em, I'd lick 'em. If I had 'em, I'd lick 'em." ( Uggie, the adorable pooch from "The Artist") BUT NO J.LO BOOTY JOKE?
Presenter Tom Hanks (with a gray beard) pointed out a spiffy-looking older guy in the audience as 59-year seat filler Carl, who was said to currently be occupying the seat of Jennifer Lopez. But ...
"He's not really a seat filler. He's just a guy," Hanks finally admitted. And that wasn't really a funny bit, Oscar writers. SAME OLD SHOW
Apart from the host's opening film bit, it took just 21 minutes for the Oscars to trot out one of its standard-issue film montages, this one filled with movie lines that have become cliches ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning").
A mere 9 minutes later, at 8 p.m., we were treated to another filmed segment, this one of stars talking about favorite at-the-movies moments. (The theme of the evening, apparently: Movies are a shared experience! Go!) "My Chinese has a very slight German accent."
-- Presenter Sandra Bullock, who said she would speak in Mandarin Chinese to viewers in China, but then spoke in German MORE FLYING MONKEYS!
It wasn't knee-slapping-funny, but we liked the idea of seeing how a test audience back in the 1930s might have reacted to "The Wizard of Oz." In the hands of Christopher Guest, Fred Willard and company, we now know. "All those little kids -- I didn't get it," said one grumpy focus group member, complaining about the Munchkins. BE HONEST
Weren't you kinda hoping, during the Cirque du Soleil audience flyover bit, that a rope would snap or something? "Look, I turned down 'The Descendants' to prep for this."
-- Robert Downey Jr. to co-presenter Gwyneth Paltrow, in a lame spoof of documentary filmmaking "Once you get to know him, he's just a normal frog. And, like many stars here tonight, he's a lot shorter in real life."
-- Bret McKenzie, original song winner, on Kermit ZING!
Ben Stiller, to Emma Stone: "Perky gets old fast with this crowd. You don't want to be the presenter who tries too hard."
Stone: "What, you mean like a guy who would dress up in full 'Avatar' makeup or something?" SCORSESE!
We loved the moment when someone in the crowd yelled "Scorsese!" -- which prompted "Bridesmaids" presenters Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy to chug from bottles they pulled from their dresses. As for the object of the drinking game -- which was introduced by the Bridesmaids at the Screen Actors Guild Awards -- he looked delightedly bewildered. "I'd rather have a short film with some heft that's nice to me rather than a long film that just lies there and makes you do all the work."
-- Kristen Wiig, presenting alongside her "Bridesmaids" co-stars THEY'RE MISSED
The final star featured in this year's "In Memoriam" segment: Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, Whitney Houston appeared as well. Esperanza Spalding (backed by a children's choir) did a lovely rendition of "What a Wonderful World" to accompany the deaths montage. THE PITTS MEET THE PRESS
Brad and Angie left their 17 (or so) kids at home, but they did bring his parents, William and Jane Pitt, to the Oscars. Missouri is happy to claim any and all Pitts, of course. Brad, as you may know, studied journalism at Mizzou before going Hollywood, and all of us at FYI would like him to know he's welcome to drop by any Oscar night, or any other night, to help us out. BEST NEWS TEASE
From KMBC's Lara Moritz: "How children escape a church fire after the Oscars!" (Maybe there was a pause in there somewhere.)
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