Candid moments: Off-camera celeb chatter at the Oscars
Sandra Bullock wipes the face of George Clooney before the 84th Academy Awards show on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Published Sunday, February 26, 2012 11:06PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:34AM EDT
LOS ANGELES - Even the hundreds of photographers, TV cameras and webcams around the Hollywood & Highland Center can't capture every starry moment of Sunday's 84th annual Academy Awards.
Celebrities reunite on the red carpet, mingle during commercial breaks and experience impromptu star-crossings in the wings -- and we've got our eyes and ears trained on those moments.
From arrivals to after-parties, here's a running account of what you didn't see on TV:
3:22 -- "Is the house open?", a casually dressed Billy Crystal asks a backstage security crew a little more than two hours before the Oscar show is to begin. Wearing jeans, a sweater, sneakers and his Oscar credential, Crystal gazes out at an empty theatre as he hits his marks and silently rehearses his monologue. A few minutes later, he's gone.
3:26 p.m. -- Outside the theatre, things are beginning to heat up, thanks in no small part to the arrival of perennial Oscar heartthrob George Clooney. The fan bleachers erupt in a chorus of cheers and whoops as Clooney arrives on the red carpet, bobbing his head in time to chants of "George, George, George." With him is his date, Stacy Keibler. Decked out in a stunning gold gown, she could almost pass as the gold-plated Oscar's sister.
3:27 p.m. -- Matthew Lillard of "The Descendants" plays air guitar on the red carpet before taking off his jacket and breaking into a faux strip tease amid a shout from the bleachers of "Shaggy," a tribute to his role in the "Scooby-Doo" movies.
3:40 p.m. -- Morgan Freeman quietly slides in through a back door to the theatre and heads straight for the green room.
4:01 p.m. -- Viola Davis asks the bleacher crowd what it thinks of her new cropped copper 'do. The crowed responds with an enthusiastic cheer.
4:03 p.m. -- Clooney, who a few minutes earlier had promised the bleacher crowd he would return, keeps his word. He walks right up to a throng of fans to shake hands and sign autographs.
4:27 p.m. -- Tina Fey, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith speed through the red carpet, using the centre lane that separates the famous from the not really so much so.
4:30 p.m. -- Not all the glamour is happening on the Oscar red carpet. An hour before the show, Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, stroll the white carpet at the 20th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party at West Hollywood Park. Bringing the proper amount of glitter to the affair, John is decked out in an embellished black jacket with his initials spelled out.
4:53 p.m. -- Inside the theatre, Jessica Chastain has taken her seat - make that her armrest. "The Help" actress squats on the armrest to chat with Christian Bale and others who are dropping by to say hello. The bonhomie is interrupted by an announcement over the theatre's loudspeakers: "Please take your seats. This year's Academy Awards will begin in 25 minutes."
5:05 p.m. -- Gwyneth Paltrow stops on the red carpet to chat in Spanish with Penelope Cruz before the two make their way into the theatre.
5:15 p.m. -- "How much time do I have?" asks Oscar show producer Brian Grazer, his all-access credential hanging atop his tux. Fifteen minutes to showtime he's told. "I'm going to see if Bennett Miller is in his seat," he replies and dashes off in search of the "Moneyball" director.
5:21 p.m. -- "Hey, thanks for dressing up," a tuxedoed Tom Hanks says as he passes a person wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Turns out the guy is part of the Cirque du Soleil troupe that is performing at the Oscar show.
5:23 p.m. -- Sandra Bullock is working the front row just minutes before showtime, chatting up George Clooney, awkwardly smooching Bradley Cooper and getting smacked on the rear by a jovial Meryl Streep.
5:25: -- The thing must really be ready to start. Billy Crystal has just been escorted to the stage.
5:28 p.m. -- And the award for the last celebrity to take his or her seat before showtime goes to ... Actually, it's a tie this year, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie claiming the honour.
5:34 p.m. -- Uh oh. "The Artist" might be coming down with a cold. As the Oscar for cinematography is being presented, "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin not-so-silently blows his nose and coughs a few times before apologizing to everyone around him.
5:44 p.m. -- Billy Crystal's opening routine doesn't earn a full standing ovation inside the "Chapter 11 Theatre," as Crystal dubbed the venue that used to be named after financially troubled filmmaker Kodak. But maybe that's because Michelle Williams, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie and others are too busy jumping out of their seats to schmooze during the show's first commercial break. Leading the charge, George Clooney dashes over to hug his pal Brad Pitt and a cameraman.
Bullock tells Lopez and Diaz the truth?
6 p.m. -- "That's what makes the Academy Awards what they are -- because of you," Sandra Bullock tells Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz as they come off stage fretting that their backs-to the-audience presentation didn't come off as funny as they'd hoped.
6:10 p.m. -- When Octavia Spencer was announced as winner of the supporting actress Oscar for "The Help" one of the loudest whoops came from backstage. "Sorry," Sandra Bullock quickly apologized as workers turned to stare. "I don't even know what I said," a still stunned Spencer remarked as she walked offstage and into the arms of Bullock.
6:25 p.m.: The Muppets puppeteers have taken up residence in a balcony box overlooking the theatre. They'll soon be joined by their respective counterparts, Miss Piggy and Kermit, to introduce the Cirque du Soleil performances. They have a better seat that human co-star Jason Segal. He's situated down below, all the way on the right side of the theatre next to a monitor broadcasting the show.
6:28 p.m. -- Robert Downey Jr. chewed away on his gum and danced along to the music as he waited in the wings to present an award during the Oscar show's Cirque du Soleil performance. When his cue came he quickly deposited the gum in a napkin and stepped on stage.
6:42 p.m. -- Stage manager Dency Nelson has discovered Downey's discarded gum. "Robert Downey Jr. chewing gum! We could sell it on eBay," Nelson jokes before tossing it in the trash.
6:50 p.m. -- Wait a minute, this isn't a beauty contest. "How do you feel about relinquishing your title?" Robert Downey Jr. asks last year's supporting actress winner Melissa Leo after Octavia Spencer wins this year's award. "Oh, I'm not," she says. ""I thought you had to give them yours," Downey replies." I don't know how this works."
6:51 p.m. -- Are the infamous Oscar hunger pangs already setting in? Meryl Streep just handed Sandra Bullock a piece of gum in the audience. A few minutes later, Melissa McCarthy hands what looks like a piece of candy to her "Bridesmaids" co-star Kristen Wiig.
7:21 p.m. -- There's no need to survive solely on what Oscargoers have in their purses. An army of 1930s-era candy girls has just marched into the crowd to dole out popcorn and candy. Stacy Keibler grabbed some of each.
7:26 p.m. -- It's not exactly "At The Movies," but Oscar show producer Brian Grazer has just gotten two thumbs up from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on how the program is going so far. "It's really, really good," Jolie tells him backstage.