Oscars 2011: What you didn't see on TV

oscar-hathaway-francoImage Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesIf you’ve never actually attended the Oscars (and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that a few of you haven’t), there are some things that might surprise you about them — at least, as a first-time attendee, there were things that surprised me. For one, the Kodak Theatre is inside of a mall, so when you’re walking down that last stretch of red carpet towards that glamorous staircase, you’re actually walking past a sunglasses shop, shoe store, coffee place, fudge shop, etc. (They cover the storefronts with red drapes to hide the mall-ness.) Also, on your way to the venue, you have to drive through a gauntlet of anti-Hollywood protesters holding signs bearing slogans like “Ask Me Why You Deserve Hell” and “The Wages of Sin is Death.” Festive! And while it looks on TV like the Oscar audience is wall-to-wall celebrities, in fact, the vast majority of people who attend the Oscars are random and decidedly un-famous people, trying to act blase in their fancy duds even though they’re actually just as excited to get a glimpse of the movie stars as everyone else. People like … well, me.

Here are a few more things you might have missed if you watched this year’s show from the comfort of your couch: 

1. It was cold. Not cold by the standards of genuinely cold places in February, but chilly for Los Angeles. And for women in fancy dresses with their shoulders bare, it was downright frigid. On the red carpet, I saw Matthew McConaughey’s wife visibly shaking from the cold (unless that was just excitement). The inside of the Kodak was also air-conditioned to meat-locker temperatures. To keep the nominees from sweating? To keep the audience awake and alert for three-plus hours? Hard to say.

2. When Melissa Leo dropped her f-bomb, there was an audible gasp of surprise from the audience and immediate murmuring about whether the censors would be able to bleep it in time. Between that and a lingering sense of general confusion over Kirk Douglas’ presentation of the award (wait, he’s doing shtick? he’s making lewd jokes about Anne Hathaway? he’s saying Australians think he’s funny but British people don’t? where is he going with this “you know” thing? and did Melissa Leo just flirt with him and then steal his cane?), it was definitely one of the oddest moments of the night in the Kodak — and I’m sure at home as well.

3. During a commercial break early in the show, Anne Hathaway came out and thanked the audience “for all the energy you’re giving us.” She told everyone they looked fabulous and then held a quick raffle for a plate of sushi — “because the only thing more glamorous than being at the Oscars is eating sushi at the Oscars.” Referencing Leo’s f-bomb, Hathaway noted it was “really f—ing good sushi.” Someone up in the nosebleed seats won it, which was lucky for them, because there’s very little food to be had at the Oscars unless you smuggle in some snacks yourself — and it’s a long show.

4. When Jake Gyllenhaal came out to present an award, James Franco gave him a little off-camera what’s-up-bro wave and head nod.

5. When Hilary Swank presented, Anne Hathaway gave her a little off-camera I’m-not-worthy bow.

6. After coming out on stage wearing a dress, James Franco slipped briefly while walking back into the wings. I couldn’t see from where I was sitting if he was wearing high heels or not, but it was fortunate for him he was holding Anne Hathaway’s arm. The bit hadn’t gotten much of a reaction in the Kodak, perhaps because no one was quite sure why he was wearing a dress in the first place — was it just so he could make a Charlie Sheen joke? For the record, the biggest and most appreciative laughs in the audience seemed to be for the opening video (the hosts’ monologue, not so much), the auto-tune video, the guy with the big hair who said he should have gotten a haircut, and Billy Crystal, who was received when he came onstage with what felt like a combination of surprise, nostalgia, and genuine relief that a seasoned pro was now taking the reins of the show for at least a few minutes.

7. Before the In Memoriam part of the show, an announcer on the PA asked the audience to hold their applause until the end of the entire segment in a clear effort to avoid the awkward applause-o-meter that has often accompanied the tribute to the late greats in years past.

8. There was a palpable sense of disappointment in the Kodak Theater when the Best Documentary Feature award was announced — not because Inside Job wasn’t worthy, but because everyone was curious to see whether Banksy would show up in a monkey suit to collect the award if Exit Through the Gift Shop won. For what it’s worth, I didn’t see anyone in a monkey costume all night, but I did see a guy wearing a kilt who was having some trouble going through security because something in his kilt kept setting off the metal detector.

9. During another commercial break late in the show, the co-hosts came out again to chitchat with the audience. Actually, Anne Hathaway did most of the chitchatting — James Franco mainly stood next to her shooting video of the audience on his smartphone. “This will all go on YouTube later,” Hathaway said. She told the nominees that they had something special for them: Luna Bars taped to the bottom of their seats in case they were hungry. Presumably sushi would be hard to tape under there.

10. The giant gold Oscar statues that flanked the stage were revealed, when they were moved during a commercial break, to be just half-built, with only the front part done. When a woman sitting next to me noted with surprise the Oscars were hollow in the back, her husband answered drily, “I hate to break it to you, but most of Hollywood is hollow when you get past the surface.”

More Oscars:
Anne Hathaway’s Oscar dresses: We have the EXCLUSIVE details!
James Franco tells first Charlie Sheen joke at Oscars
Melissa Leo drops an f-bomb, Kirk Douglas hams it up
Oscars 2011: The winners list

Comments (69 total) Add your comment
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  • Buffy Freak

    Sounds like the stuff we didn’t see was as boring as the stuff we did see…

    • sara

      I don’t understand how this show was supposed to be young and hip and appeal to the younger demographic, yet was full of boring ‘remember when’s’. There was nothing hip about the show.

      • Ma’at

        If they turn this into the MTV Music awards with squealing teens, I’ll sure never watch again. I’d rather have boring than young and hip any day.

      • Grumpster

        Right there with you on that one. Same goes for CMA’s.

      • Fonzie

        The CMA’s?

        Didn’t Gwyneth Paltrow performing already help jump the shark on that one?

    • Geek

      It sounds like Hathaway was doing a great job keeping the audience entertained. Franco, as I assumed, didn’t add anything.

      • megan

        I agree! he was awful, but Hathaway had such a great time, she made me happy.

  • Anne

    I missed the applause-o-meter

    • SLB

      I think it’s stupid that they can’t clap during the in memoriam. That’s crap.

      • Abe Froman

        Why can’t they let the audience clap, and just turn the micrphones off???

      • Casey

        Then you wouldn’t hear the song being performed live.

  • Suzanne Lanoue

    Thanks, veddy interesting!

  • Tess Tickles

    My favorite part seeing the show live was when Anne Hathaway and James Franco had a farting contest during a commercial break. Anne really cut the cheese loud!!

  • rbjewels

    Ann Hathaway lost all the class and poise she thinks she has as she hooted (as if she was at a football game) at the end of the ceremony.

    • Bluebonnetbelle

      Oh no she was the one whooping and hollering EVERY time she introduced someone…it was driving me crazy!

  • Summer Bay

    It actually made me miss the days when Whoopi hosted it, at least she wore costumes relevant to the films nominated.

  • ron

    This scaled down version of the Academy Awards is very disapointing i dont care if they run long better than trying to hurry through the show.The Oscars are not very interesting anymore ten movie nominations is not good it justs make sure of no close voting or upsets go back to 5. There was no special oscar award for lifetime achievement Irving Thalberg award and the stage shows production from the past were missing as well. This is not what i grew up watching the academy awards for. another cheap quality oscar show like this and abc should end their contract straight to cable.

    • kim in kentucky

      I know – I couldn’t believe they didn’t present the Thalberg award during the live show !! Its tradition!!

  • Leena

    Thanks Josh! Although this year’s Oscar show was a huge disappointment, your behind-the-scenes article was interesting!

    • Che

      I agree, I enjoyed this article a lot, quite interesting and fun to read.

    • CG

      Leena, I agree. Josh needs to go talk to Ken Tucker and explain to him how this really WASN’T a good show. It sounds like the husband of the lady sitting next to Josh should give hosting a try next year.

  • Paul

    Anne Hathaway and James Franco?…Is that the best Hollywood can do.I know that Oscars are trying to appeal to a younger audience.If this it,bring back the good old days….Booooring.
    I changed the channel.

    • Bonnie

      There are no good old days. The only thing that is every potentially interesting is the opening and then if there’s a really great acceptance speech. The show is ALWAYS boring. 20 second bits in between 20 minute long snore-fests cannot save a show.

  • Ramsey

    thanks for this…I am always curious about the commercial breaks. I also follow James Franco on twitter and loved all of his on the spot videos. I wish people would cut some slack to the hosts, it is a no win situation, you cannot please everyone.

    • Elizabeth

      Comment of the Day!

  • Uh-huh

    What you also didn’t see behind the scenes was James Franco getting totally high in his dressing room. Dude looked stoned.

    • lefty

      He always looks stoned…that’s just him. I’m tired of people accusing him of being stoned while hosting the Oscars. Stop.

  • Kelly

    Anti-Hollywood protesters? That must have been obnoxious to walk by, ridiculous.

    • Tess Tickles

      It’s really annoying to see homeless people crossing the street, I spit on them from the sunroof in my limo

  • R.


  • Cygnus

    Looks like they were trying to add some MTV Movie Awards hijinks, but totally tanked it when allowing Kurt Douglas to present in one of the most awkward Oscar moments ever. Didnt they learn from Bette Davis back in the 80’s. When an actor surpasses 80, there’s a legitimate chance they’re going to have an Alzheimer’s moment, and worse, one of these days, they’ll fall down. It was just sad sad sad.

    • Casey

      Kirk Douglas was the best part of the whole show, what are you talking about?

  • Jennifer

    I’ve been to the Kodak Theater, but even so, it didn’t dawn on me that the last few yards of red carpet were actually in the mall. Don’t know why I never thought to that.

    • Jenn

      I’ve actually walked down that big staircase at the Kodak Theater. It never ceases to amaze me how different it looks when glammed up for the Oscars. Just another tidbit of Hollywood magic I guess. I laughed like mad when I saw all the mall shops. Such a sham!

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