Backstage Secrets of the Academy Awards


Feb. 20 2009, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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No one knows more about the celebrities, secrets and surprises at the Oscars than Robert Osborne, who has met every A-Lister from Kate Winslet to George Clooney. After all, as the official red carpet celebrity greeter of the 81st Academy Awards, that's his job.

"It's fun for me because I get them right at the beginning and they're all in a good mood; everybody's a winner," Osborne told OK! at the Academy's New York Oscar Night Party Press Preview at Cafe Carlyle. "There's no announcement they've lost at that point!"

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Osborne has attended nearly every Oscars since 1961 in various capacities from seat filler, to working the press room, to being a guest of celebrities, to wandering around backstage.

Robert is the author of 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards and is a host on Turner Classic Movies, has seen it all. OK! sat down with the red carpet expert to get his insider info on entertainment's biggest event of the year!

1. Sneaking In The Back Door

Tom Cruise occasionally has snuck in the back door. There was one year when he and Nicole Kidman had split up and divorced but I don't know that they were too friendly at that point. She was a nominee and he was participating but he came in through the back because I don't think he wanted to be photographed with her on the red carpet.

2. Celebs Are Fans Too

What I find interesting is watching people go over as fans of other people. Like you'll see a Tom Cruise to a Daniel Day Lewis and you realize they've never met and you'll see them talk. You'll see some new girl go over to Meryl Streep and introduce herself and you realize that these are people who are fans as well.

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3. Deal Making

You have the professional networkers who are up out of their seat shaking hands with everyone. I think Tom Cruise is very much a networker. I remember Cate Blanchett last year was going around to a lot of people. George Clooney last year was going around to a lot of people, some he probably knows and some he probably doesn't.

4. Walk the Walk But Don't Talk The Talk

Jack Nicholson sometimes comes through and he'll just wave but he won't stop and talk to anybody because he's answered all the questions he wants to answer about himself. He's done it so long he probably thinks they know everything they need to know.

Tom Cruise
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5. Dress to Impress

Some celebrities you get the feeling they wear stuff to attract attention, which doesn't necessarily represent their best points but it will get them in a tabloid magazine. And some don't mind if they're criticized for dressing poorly. I'd say one of the most beautiful was Jennifer Lopez. Always looked really wonderful. Great figure and knows how to really show it off and very attractive.

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6. Avoiding Awkward Run-ins

You don't sit Warren Beatty next to those 25 ladies because he's had romances with all of them. One year Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine were sisters, both Academy Award winners who hadnt spoken to each other in years. They had to have two green rooms that year so they could each be in one.

7. Black Tie Bailing

There was one year when I sat next to Elizabeth Taylor the whole time, as a seat filler. She was there with her husband Richard Burton and he went back to present an award early in the evening and he never came back. She was really irritated because she knew he was back there drinking and she wanted to be back there. She started saying, "Where the hell is he? That bastard, where the hell is he?" She got increasingly angry as the show went on. But that was great fun getting to sit by her.

8. Oscars Make Oscars

I don't think there'd be as many good movies as there are if they didn't have an Oscar to shoot for. I think it's so ingrained in people. It's like if they didn't have a Pulitzer Prize or a Nobel Prize. People need goals to aim for.

9. Rebel Without A Cause

There was a long period when people didn't like the Oscars. It was fashionable to put them down. That was in the '60s when everybody was very flower children and anti-establishment. That's not the case anymore. Now you get people like Sean Penn who was a rebel and Dennis Hopper who was a rebel, showing up in tuxedos looking appropriate. That's what's so good about the Oscars. It's such a passing parade. It never stays stagnant.


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