Entertainment behind the scenes
***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.