The 76th Annual Academy Awards and Countdown To The Oscars 2004
OK, here we go (and you thought the telecast was long...):
8:00Access Hollywood's Billy Bush shares a limo with 13-year-old nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes and finds out she would most like to meet Johnny Depp tonight "because he's a stud."
8:05 — After a preshow interview, Susan Sarandon nearly trips as she walks down from a minipodium on the red carpet.
8:12 — At the end of a comedy bit with Starsky & Hutch costar Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson checks out correspondent Maria Menounos' chest and casually asks, "Are those real, by the way?"
8:13 — One of the Oscar accountants waves to the crowd as he passes by with a briefcase full of secrets. The crowd collectively thinks, "Chill out, loser."
8:14 — Correspondent Chris Connelly coins the phrase "Oscar nominatable."
8:15 — When Bush jokingly asks Bill Murray what he's wearing, he replies, "Boxers."
8:18 — Bush starts off his interview with Angelina Jolie — who's wearing the best dress ever — by saying "Wow! I mean, wow!" As Ralph Furley would say on Three's Company, "Smooth."
8:24 — Backstage, Tom Hanks wryly explains that "there's a lot of upchucking going on in some rooms and there's little white pills being swallowed in others."
8:28 — With Uma Thurman and Oprah sitting across from each other, Bush revisits the "Uma... Oprah. Oprah... Uma." joke, thereby sabotaging any possible future appearances on her talk show, and probably Letterman's too.
8:29 — Bush drags Keisha over to meet Johnny Depp. He's gracious, but the young teen is thoroughly embarrassed and not thrilled at all.
8:30 — The Oscars officially start!
8:31 — In Billy Crystal's parody film clips we see him nearly naked in a takeoff of Terminator 3.
8:41 — Crystal sits on Clint Eastwood's lap.
8:50Catherine Zeta-Jones informs the world that she has "no nails" when she attempts to open the envelope with Tim Robbins' name for Best Supporting Actor.
8:57 — Crystal: "The Oscars and the Academy have been very gracious to me and sort of let me come and go as I please the last few years. It's kind of like the Texas National Guard."
8:59 — First of many shots proving that Peter Jackson hates wearing tuxedos.
9:06 — Best thank you to a spouse: Finding Nemo's Andrew Stanton saying, "I wrote it to you in a note in eighth grade and now I can say it in front of a billion people: I love you."
9:22Renee Zellweger thanks Tom Cruise, but for some reason we see a shot of Nicole Kidman. Yikes.
9:24 — During the tribute to Bob Hope, we see Mickey Rooney in the audience. Yes, he's alive.
9:27 — Thanks to the odd choice of ending the Hope clip package with a relatively recent clip of the legendary comedian turning around and thanking an applauding audience, it momentarily looks like Hope has just came back from the dead.
9:37Alison Krauss and Sting perform a haunting rendition of "You Will Be My Ain True Love." Later, during a commercial, I discover that iTunes has only some songs from the Cold Mountain soundtrack, and this isn't one of them. Crap.
9:59 — Seat-filler meltdown: When the visual effects team from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of King wins, we see them all getting up with a load of already vacant spaces surrounding them.
10:04 — I check my list and realize there are at least 15 awards still to be given out. Oh, my God, I'm going to be up so late.
10:09Blake Edwards uses the phrase "elephant poop" for the first time on an Oscar telecast since Meryl Streep in 1980.
10:20 — After several LOTR wins, Crystal remarks, "It's now official: There's now no one left in New Zealand to thank."
10:27 — When Julia Roberts introduces the Katharine Hepburn piece, no immediate applause comes after she first utters the screen legend's name. Roberts, now appearing slightly irritated, nods to the audience as if to say, "C'mon people, I'm waiting..." The crowd then claps and she continues.
10:40 — The mother of Documentary Short winner Maryann DeLeo realizes she's on camera and immediately whips off her glasses.
10:42Errol Morris wins for The Fog of War, the documentary about former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. "Forty years ago this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died," he says. "I fear we're going down a rabbit hole once again — and if people can stop and think and reflect on some of the ideas and issues in this movie, perhaps I've done some damn good here!"
10:46 — The winners of the deceased celebrity applause-o-meter include Gregory Peck, John Ritter, Art Carney, Buddy Ebsen and Ray Bolger (just kidding, he died years ago).
10:47 — I start flipping during a break and end up on the Food Network where some guy is explaining the subtle nuances of grilling meat. Now I'm hungry and I have nothing good to eat in my apartment.
11:06Eugene Levy lays a sloppy kiss on Catherine O'Hara at the end of their performance of "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind.
11:25 — So Diet Pepsi's tag line is "It's The Diet Cola." Really? What, "Diet Pepsi: It's Brown" or "Diet Pepsi: It Goes Flat If You Leave The Cap Off" were rejected?
11:44 — Crystal points out that Oscar winner Peter Jackson is indeed wearing shoes.
11:48Adrien Brody uses a breath spray before he presents Charlize Theron with her shiny little dude.
12:05 — "It's a clean sweep," announces Steven Spielberg. LOTR wins best picture. My colleague Ethan Alter, who saw the final chapter about 17 times, presumably raises his fists in triumph.
12:08 — Middle Earth exec producer Barrie Osbourne randomly mentions that he once dated Crystal's cousin.
12:14 — The Christopher Cross classic "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" plays as the credits roll.

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The Barbara Walters Special
It was close: Both Billy Crystal and Shrek nearly broke down and cried. Nowhere near blubbering, though, was Diane Keaton, who has an incredibly infectious laugh. And she's so blunt: She flatly admitted that she'd certainly be up for an off-screen romance with Jack Nicholson. Also, who knows if Keaton watches Mad TV, but if she does, she would have noticed that the white turtleneck outfit she wore for this special was nearly identical to the one parodied in an Oscar sketch on Saturday's episode of the Fox series.


50 Greatest Movie Animals
I can't believe this. Animal Planet proclaims Toto the No. 1 movie animal, but Rowlf The Dog from the Muppet films didn't make the cut? At the end of the special, host Mario Lopez said, "Was your favorite animal in our countdown? I'm sure it was." Well, you know what, Mario? It wasn't, and it's not going down easy. So why Rowlf? Because in The Muppet Movie, as he commiserated with Kermit (No. 11 on the list) about women, he had line something like this: "I finish work, I go home, read a book, have a couple of beers, take myself for a walk and go to bed." Love that.


Joan of Arcadia
Camera-cell phones in the locker room? Another reason I'm glad my high school days were in the late '80s. Poor Joan, her "panty shot" spread all the way through the student body. Not a fun day. Pensive love interest Adam isn't your typical teenager, and that's a good thing. But does he always need to wear that damn sweatshirt hood? And now that I've noticed it, it's going to drive me crazy.

Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire
Scott Hoff, the last guy to get in the hot seat, wins $5,000 and then suddenly time runs out. To make things worse, Regis says, "Scott and I will see you again in May. And until then, everybody, good night from New York!" This is so much worse than those Matrix films.

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
Larissa Meek from Average Joe 2 was a guest, along with her final two candidates, Brian and Gil (who said literally about five words). Their appearance made me think of those ubiquitous NBC commercials that suggest tonight's finale will reveal an even bigger secret than just whom Larissa chooses. I don't know why, but when I first saw those spots I immediately thought of that old Daily Show clip that Comedy Central ran all the time when Craig Kilborn was still the host. With a Linda Tripp over-the-shoulder graphic to his left, Kilborn yelled to the camera "She's a man, baby!"