Sidney Hicks, Monique

Rick Rowell/ABC

Mo'Nique owned the room. The Hurt Locker's writer defused a bomb. One half of Crazy Heart's songwriting duo called in sick. And did the John Hughes tribute cut into pressroom attendance?

Here's what's doing backstage at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards:

7:05 p.m.: "We adjusted their brows."
Joel Harlow, from Star Trek's Best Makeup team, on how they made the heretofore underappreciated Romulans stand out.

Geek-Factoid Alert: The makeup Oscar is the first Oscar of any kind for any Star Trek movie—ever. (A reporter said it; I double-checked with the Academy librarian, and, whaddya know, it's true!) Reacts Mindy Hall, another member of the award-winning Trek team: "It's fantastic. It's fantastic for the whole franchise."

This isn't an interview room anymore; it's Mo'Nique's house. The Best Supporting Actress winner is running the show—calling on reporters she recognizes, calling out reporting tactics she doesn't like, and, of course, getting laughs. In all, this is the same Mo'Nique than we saw at the Globes and SAG Awards, but different. Still composed, newly commanding. 

"Everything I wanted to say. Everything I needed to say. I did it."
—Mo'Nique, on her fearless acceptance speech.

Mo'Nique is asked whether she'll redo her résumé. The answer is no. "I am a stand-up comedian who won an Oscar," says the actress stand-up comedian.

Name-checking Hattie McDaniel on stage was far from Mo'Nique's only nod to the first African-American Oscar winner. As she elaborates: "The reason why I have on this royal blue dress is because this is the color Hattie McDaniel wore when she accepted her Oscar [for Gone With the Wind]. The reason I have this gardenia [in her hair] is because this is the flower Hattie McDaniel wore when she accepted."

Did I mention Mo'Nique is trying to get a Hattie McDaniel biopic made? Well, she is, and, no, no snark intended as I, for one, intend to stay on Mo'Nique's good side. 

So, about Mo'Nique's good side—not all of us here are on it, and the ones who aren't are the ones she referenced on stage when she talked about Oscar politics, or the perception of such. "Some journalists wrote, 'Someone needs to teach Mo'Nique a lesson,' " she says."And I'm very proud to be part of an Academy where we will not play that game. We will judge her on her performance, and on not on how many dinners she did."

I'm sorry to say I'm not on Mo'Nique's great side. I can't get a question in.

Ever wonder how you get the gig to accompany the Oscars' annual dearly departed clip package? Let's just say I spied James Taylor in the hotel lobby before the show. It was like watching Abe Lincoln walk by. Or to put it another way, he was almost as authoritative as Mo'Nique.  

I suppose I could ask why Farrah Fawcett wasn't in the clip package, but I've run a couple of question errands for the Answer B!tch tonight, and no matter what I ask, I get a head shake.

5:50 p.m.: How expected was Christoph Waltz's Best Supporting Actor win? Not a peep from the pressroom when the category was announced. Trust me, reporters peep quite a lot when they're surprised.

Up wins Animated Feature. Still no peeps. (Not saying it's a bad thing that there weren't any peeps. I'm just, you know, saying. That's what you do when you're not, you know, peeping.)

How do you soothe nominees' nerves? During the first commercial break, the Kodak offered the piped-in sounds of Lionel Richie's "Easy." (At least that's what was coming in over my headset. Maybe I picked up an oldies station? Or Lionel Richie's iPod?) (Update: I think what I picked up was Richie's virtual son-in-law Joel Madden—and tonight's in-house Oscar deejay—paying tribute to the old man.)

By the way, you're going to have to make your own witty remarks about Neil Patrick Harris' opening number. Personally, I have no idea how it went. I'm only at the Oscars, where the telecast audio feed was out at the beginning of the show. Fortunately, it came back on in time for Steve Martin's Christoph Waltz joke.

By the way, you're going to have to imagine your own witty remarks from Waltz and Up director Pete Docter, too. At least for now. The early winners have taken a pass on doing press, choosing instead to return to their seats in the Kodak. Definitely unusual Oscar-night behavior. Maybe everybody wanted to see the John Hughes tribute? 

•  Thank you, Original Song winner Ryan Bingham, for missing the John Hughes tribute! He's the first winner back here. And he's solo. True to tonight's form, his partner, T-Bone Burnett, is absent. An Academy flack tells us Burnett has reported not feeling well, and has, yes, returned to his seat.

 • "I thought it'd be kind of cheesy calling it 'Crazy Heart.' "
—Bingham on why he instead wrote a song called "The Weary Kind."

What exactly happened to Burnett? I ask Bingham, but he doesn't know. "After he won the award, he said he wasn't feeling well," he says, echoing the Academy flack.  

The Hurt Locker's Mark Boal (Original Screenplay) gets tossed a bomb and defuses it like a pro. "Jeff is a brave soldier," Boal says of Jeffrey Sarver, the Army sergeant who has sued the filmmakers, accusing them of stealing his story. "The screenplay is a work of fiction. It's not based on any one person's story. That's really all I have."

Peep! Peep! Peep! Precious' win for Adapted Screenplay prompts reporters to peep right over Animated Short winner Nicolas Schmerkin (Logorama). Maybe we should explain our strange custom to him later.


Take a look back at special Red Carpet moments in our Red Carpet Rewind: Oscars gallery!


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