The Oscar Show Inside Out

Why didn’t Renée Zellweger sing the Chicago number?

In the movie, Best Song nominee “I Move On” is performed by Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Yet Zellweger decided weeks before the ceremony that she wasn’t going to perform on the telecast. “[Renée] wanted her night to be about celebration, not about work,” says Chicago director Rob Marshall. “She had family in town.” Fortunately, Queen Latifah was happy to take her place. In the two weeks leading up to Oscar night, she rehearsed about eight hours a day with Zeta-Jones.

  • Why didn’t Nicole Kidman thank her father?
  • During Kidman’s emotional Best Actress acceptance speech, she tearfully praised her mother, Janelle, and daughter Isabella, 10, but left out her dad, Antony, who was sitting with the family. Afterward, the actress said she was trying to make a point about the power of women. “It was wonderful to stand on the stage and be able to see the generations, from your mother to your daughter,” said Kidman. But the star also admitted she never intended to completely forget about Pop and chalked the goof up to nerves. “I have no idea what I said up there,” laughed the actress. “I left my dad out and I didn’t mean to. So I’m adding him now.”

When did Michael Moore come up with his antiwar speech plan?

The ever-colorful filmmaker caused the stir of the evening when, after winning Best Documentary Feature for Bowling for Columbine, Moore took the stage—accompanied by his fellow nominees—and blasted President Bush for being “a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.” The rant was met with some cheers and also some very vocal jeers. Moore clearly had an idea of what he wanted to say beforehand: He had given a similar speech the previous day at the Independent Spirit Awards. (Interestingly, the response to his comments then was resoundingly positive.) On Oscar night, less than a minute before his award was announced, Moore turned to the documentary filmmakers who were seated near him and told them, “I’m going to make a statement against Bush and the war. If I win, I’d like you to come up.” Moore recalls happily that “they all went. It was a wonderful moment.”

Speaking of Moore, who thought up Steve Martin’s Teamsters line?

Immediately after Moore’s diatribe, Martin brought down the house when he quipped, “It is so lovely backstage. The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.” “We came up with that joke in a little room offstage where we congregate,” says Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch, who along with a team of scribes scrambled to come up with several of Martin’s seemingly off-the-cuff zingers. “We had a couple of ideas ready based on what we thought [Moore] might say. We could hear the crew members backstage booing, so we were responding to that. I think [syndicated newspaper columnist] Dave Barry was the one who first came up with the joke. Everybody then threw ideas in: ‘Try it this way, try it that way.’ In the end it was a real collaboration.”

Where was Eminem?

Best Song winner “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile was the only number not to be heard during the telecast. That’s because weeks before the show, Eminem had turned down an invitation to perform his hit before Hollywood’s elite. “He’s running a record label and he needed a break,” said Eminem’s songwriting partner Luis Resto, who accepted the award. “But he will be very overjoyed that he won, believe me. It means a lot to him.” As for why another performer didn’t come on to do the song in Eminem’s stead, Vilanch says he wanted rapper Queen Latifah to fill in but she declined since she was already committed to the Chicago number.

Where was Roman Polanski when his name was announced as Best Director for The Pianist?

At home in France, watching the show live on TV with his wife, actress Emmanuelle Seigner. “He was surprised to win, considering the campaign waged against him,” a close friend tells People. (In 1978 Polanski fled the country to avoid being sentenced for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.) “The fact that his name was read out by Harrison Ford, who’s a good friend and who worked with him in [1988’s] Frantic, was very touching to Roman—and to his wife, since that’s the film he met Emmanuelle on.”

Was the Oscar program changed because of the war?

Actually, no, says Vilanch. Despite numerous reports that the production would be altered, Vilanch says little of the sort happened. On the Wednesday before the telecast, “I called Steve [Martin] and said, ‘Are you being restructured and toned down?’ And he said, ‘No, nobody’s called. I’m doing exactly what we planned on doing.’ ” Vilanch does admit to a few changes: “We had one joke we were going to do, which we pulled: ‘Saddam Hussein, I hope your [cable] connection goes out right before we announce Best Picture.’ Steve didn’t want to say [Saddam’s] name because when you say it, it puts everybody’s head in a different place.”

What stars bowed out of the ceremonies?

Will Smith, who was to be a presenter, pulled out March 20, citing his discomfort with attending because of the global situation. Cate Blanchett and Jim Carrey also dropped out; they both said they were working on films. (Blanchett was scheduled to present the Best Documentary feature; Diane Lane took her place.) Angelina Jolie canceled after her dress was stolen in London March 20. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson decided not to fly in from New Zealand because of security concerns. And Meg Ryan was also a late scratch. The actress had planned on wearing a 75-carat diamond ring (to commemorate Oscar’s 75th anniversary), but changed her mind two days before the show. She switched to a 5-carat rock, plus a diamond peace-sign pendant. The next day, she canceled altogether.

When Colin Farrell introduced Best Song nominees U2, what was it that he said in Gaelic?

Irish actor Farrell gave a tip of the hat to his countrymen by saying, Go raibh mile maith agat. Agus anois U2! Translated: “A thousand thank-yous. And now U2!”

Who was the “friend from Queens” that Best Actor Adrien Brody singled out in his acceptance speech?

Brody gave a shout out to his childhood pal Tommy Zarobinski, a specialist with the U.S. Army’s 773rd transportation company, currently stationed in Kuwait. “We grew up together,” says Brody, who attended LaGuardia High School for performing arts in Manhattan with Zarobinski. “We’ve been friends forever. I mean what I said. I hope he comes back okay. I am thinking about him.” Zarobinski’s mother, Ada, was moved by Brady’s speech. “To hear Adrien talking so beautifully like that on a night that was so big for him, it was a lot of happiness for us,” she told PEOPLE. “I never thought he would mention my son. Adrien’s a very good-hearted person.” Adds Zarobinski’s sister Kelli-Ann: “Adrien is Tommy’s best friend. After all this publicity and all the movies, he never forgets my brother. He’s a stand-up guy.”

Why wasn’t Elizabeth Taylor included in the reunion of past Oscar winners?

Before the show, Taylor told reporters that she would participate in the ceremonial gathering of Academy Award winners. “That will be my swan song on the stage,” said the 71-year-old actress. “My life is AIDS, not acting.” Yet when the curtain came up on the 59 Oscar alums, Taylor was nowhere to be seen. Says her rep Sally Morrison: “Liz had been very much looking forward to going to the Oscars and making her last night there one to remember. But after the war broke out, she thought it was inappropriate to celebrate when people were dying.”

How many standing ovations were there?

Although it seemed like the audience was on their feet every other minute, in actuality, there were (a still impressive) nine standing O’s. Martin started off the night by getting the stars out of their seats. Then Julie Andrews and Michael Moore also got a rise out of the crowd. Brody received two ovations during his four-minute speech, followed by one each for Peter O’Toole, Olivia de Havilland, the past Oscar winners and Chicago producer Marty Richards for his Best Picture win.

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