Entertainment behind the scenes
Fan Fare @ the Oscars: Our Live Blog
***Veteran showman Hugh Jackman pulled out all the stops in his first stint as Oscar host, gamely singing and dancing his way through the night’s five best picture nominees with rarely seen Broadway flair.
In the musical number that traditionally kicks off the awards ceremony, Jackman — deadpanning that the Academy had cut back on the glitz this year because of the recession — pranced between cut-outs illustrating the reverse-aging of Benjamin Button; sat at a bare-bones set of the fictional quiz show in “Slumdog Millionaire”; roped in an ostensibly bemused Anne Hathaway to recreate the “Frost/Nixon” interview; stood on a “soapbox” Milk-crate; and, finally, stood on the top ropes of a make-shift wrestling rink as paper Oscars unfurled on either side.
“Because of the recession, everything is being downsized. Next year I’ll be starring in a movie called ‘New Zealand’,” the “Australia” actor remarked just before breaking into song.
Pundits had been undecided on Jackman before the show, given the Academy’s decision not to go with a comedian. But if the standing ovation and raucous applause from his toughest critics — the royalty of Hollywood seated in the front rows — were any indication, Jackman may just pull it off.
***Ben Stiller got laughs onstage and backstage for his riff on former Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix, who is giving up acting to for rapping and should get an online Oscar for his portrayal of the “Unibomber” on David Letterman. Natalie Portman should get a prize for keeping a straight face.
***Heath Ledger, the evening’s shoo-in, won a posthumous Oscar for his depiction of The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
Backstage, Ledger’s mom, Sally Bell, said he would have been “quietly pleased” with the award.
“Heath was never one to be over-the-top with anything,” she said.
Ledger’s award is destined for his daughter, Matilda, but it will have to be put in a trust until she can sign for it when she is 18, dad Kim Ledger said.
Matilda, who is the daughter of actress Michelle Williams, is “totally like her daddy,” Bell said. “She has the same mannerisms, I really feel like he’s in her.”
***Danny Boyle wins Best Director prize for “Slumdog Millionaire,” the night’s big winner.
***Kate Winslet takes home the Best Actress award for “The Reader” — finally an Oscar win for her after five previous nominations.
“I want to acknowlege my fellow nominees,” Winslet said. “These goddesses. I think we all can’t believe we were in the category with Meryl Streep at all. I’m sorry, Meryl, but you just have to suck that up.”
***Sean Penn picks up the Best Actor prize for “Milk,” saying “You commie, homo-loving sons of guns.” It’s his second Oscar.
***”Slumdog Millionaire” proves it’s top dog with Best Picture Oscar and 8 awards overall. Aren’t those kids adorable?
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(Written by Edwin Chan, Nichola Groom and Lisa Baertlein)