8:28 p.m. Regis Philbin appears to be teetering on the edge of senility. He just said hello to “Xavier Bardem,” sitting in the front row of the Kodak. Let the show begin!
8:23 p.m. Recently-turned-21-year-old Ellen Page is adorable and gracious. She seems truly thrilled and honored to be at the ceremony. Or maybe she’s just happy the Barbara Walters interview is over.
8:20 p.m. Psycho alert! The AP has a story up with the headline “Gary Busey harasses stars on red carpet.” He is totally going to be the talk of tinseltown tomorrow. I’m surprised if they even let him into the ceremony.
8:15 p.m. Helen Mirren looks GREAT (another red dress). I’m always amazed at how softspoken and shy Daniel Day-Lewis is in real life. ABC just reminded Amy Adams that she’ll be singing in front of a billion people; she momentarily looked like she was about to vomit. And good God, Regis Philbin is now interviewing 84-year-old “bleacher fan”/starwatcher Sarah Golden. She and Gary Busey would make a good couple.
8:05 p.m. I’m not sure if it’s because English isn’t her first language, but Marion Cotillard seems to me to be sort of vapid in every interview she does. ABC is going through a revolving door of nominees (and Miley Cyrus, ugh) now in the final half hour before the show starts. Laura Linney looks great; Javier Bardem is there with his mother.
7:59 p.m.: Low point of the evening: Ryan Seacrest just gave Katherine Heigl a plate emblazoned with his mug as a housewarming gift.
7:55 p.m.: Aww! “Enchanted” co-stars Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams just had a brief reunion on the carpet. “How nervous are you?” Dempsey asked Adams, who will be singing one of the nominated songs from the film. Moments later, Dempsey’s wife strangely described their infant twins as “juicy and delicious.”
7:51 p.m.: Casey Affleck and his wife look duly unimpressed with Ryan Seacrest, who eventually shooed them away in favor of Hillary Swank. The former Oscar winner also looks like she wants to die talking to him. Katherine Heigl is the latest actress to be wearing red and looks stunning. She’s definitely destined to play Marilyn Monroe in a biopic one of these days.
7:49 p.m.: It seems like red is the “in” color this year. Anne Hathaway, Ruby Dee, Julie Christie and Miley Cyrus all match the carpet. Mmm, Johnny Depp just arrived with glasses and short hair. And Ellen Page, in a dress! She looks uncomfortable. Colin Farrell’s date is his mother.
7:39 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest continues to make an ass of himself, first making fun of Marion Cotillard’s French accent and then forcing her to do an American one. But compared to Joey Fatone, who inexplicably breaks into high-octave song every few minutes (example: “Here’s another one of the nomin-EEEESSS!”), he looks like Brian Williams. Tilda Swinton just admitted she’s never seen the ceremony, even on TV. Interesting.
7:36 p.m.: Breaking: Cameron Diaz did not get Drew Barrymore a birthday present. (Why is she here?)
7:30 p.m.: Barbara Walters is talking to Ellen Page like the actress is 5 years old. Page is giving a great, articulate interview and Walters looks confused (her comment on the Moldy Peaches’ performance on The View: “I don’t get it.”) Walters lobbed a softball sexuality question at Page, who managed to dodge the bullet. Now Walters is forcing Page to sing and play guitar while she looks on like a scary grandmother. And now she’s singing along. God help us all. Back to the carpet.
7:25 p.m.: EVERYONE is talking about Gary Busey. He’s like the drunk guy who does embarassing karaoke and hits on interns at your office party. Ryan Seacrest just admitted he had never met Busey before and commented on Jennifer Garner’s look of sheer terror.
7:17 p.m.: Ryan Seacrest literally just cornered Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney to awkwardly interrupt what looked like a very pleasant conversation. Now Gary Busey (?!?!) just barged in and mauled both of them. They both look horrified and are running away, much to the dismay of Seacrest, who’s still getting jostled by Busey. (“I have no idea how to explain what’s happening on the red carpet right now … Jennifer Garner’s never coming back to red carpet again.”)
7:10 p.m.: Amy Adams is the first celebrity who looks genuinely excited to see Ryan Seacrest. But not anymore … he just took her tiny, empty purse and began modeling it.
7:06 p.m.: There’s been a lot of commentary that tonight is the first public appearance George Clooney has made with girlfriend Sarah Larson. She looks bored, and slightly miffed at Lisa Rinna’s unabashed fawning over her man. Apparently it’s pouring in L.A., but of course the red carpet is under a tent. Jennifer Garner just ran in under an umbrella.
7:02 p.m.: Good lord, Patrick Dempsey is GORGEOUS. I’m glad Barbara is doing some sort of Hannah Montana nonsense so I can pay attention to McDreamy on E! Ryan Seacrest apparently agrees with me, by the way. (“Wow, your eyes are so blue. They’re magical.” Seriously.)
7 p.m.: Barbara Walters’ Oscar pre-show special is starting on ABC, competing with red carpet coverage on E! and TV Guide. Henceforth, witness channel flipping become an art.
6:56 p.m.: Teen nominee Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement”) is being escorted by her father, who incidentally is only about three inches taller than she is. She seems like an Irish Dakota Fanning.
6:53 p.m.: Presenter Anne Hathaway talking about trying not to fall down the stairs. She’s definnitely one of the fashion “hits” of the night so far, as is Patrick Dempsy – yowza. Ryan Seacrest unfortunately balked at Hathaway’s date’s foreign-sounding name. Ruby Dee looks classy as well.
6:50 p.m.: ABC just teased an interview with “Best Actress nominee Laura Linley.” Hmm, never heard of her.
6:47 p.m.: “Juno” star Jason Bateman on George Clooney’s hair: “It’s amazing how real it looks, isn’t it?” And now he’s talking about a possible “Arrested Development” movie!!!! That’s it. For me, the rest of the night is inconsequential.
6:30 p.m.: Thank God things are finally getting interesting. Amy Ryan and George Clooney just arrived and both look great. (Not together). Ryan appears genuinely excited and overwhelmed, but seems appalled that Ryan Seacrest just forced her to fake-punch him so E! could try out sound effects (sigh). Anybody else find it jarring to hear her speak without a Dawchestah accent after nailing it in “Gone Baby Gone”?
6:21 p.m.: “I drink your soy shake?” Lisa and Joey’s parodies of the Best Picture nominees are getting old FAST. E! is doing a Britney Spears update. Lisa Rinna is talking to two Italian men nominated for Best Live Action short and has about as much of an idea who they are as I do.
6:16 p.m.: I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of award show pre-shows is watching the cable anchors fumble their way through questions, especially when they’re talking to celebrities (or about movies) they clearly know nothing about. Like, for instance, Lisa Rinna blanking on “MPAA” when talking to President Dan Glickman just now. Whoops.
6:01 p.m.: Jon Stewart looks fairly relaxed and not at all nervous, talking to E! in a t-shirt during show rehearsals. Also, the “Most Unbearable” Award is a toss-up between Ryan Seacrest and TVGuide’s Joey Fatone and Lisa Rinna, trying to kill time while they wait for the A-, B- and C-listers to start showing up.
5:33 p.m.: E! = class. Quote of the night so far, during a discussion about knocked-up celebs: “Jessica Alba, of course, uh, pregnant and not married. But this is Hollywood, so it’s okay!”
5:15 p.m.: Okay, E!’s “True Hollywood Story” of Leah, the “Real Girl” (a.k.a. Blow-up doll) from “Lars and the Real Girl” is pretty amusing. Meanwhile, over at TVGuide, you can practically hear crickets chirping as the anchors try to fill airtime in between infomercials.
5:01 p.m.: Hello, Blast readers! Tonight I’ll be taking you through Hollywood’s annual love-fest to itself, the Academy Awards. The TV Guide channel has been doing coverage since 2:30 this afternoon and let me tell you, as I type this three-and-a-half hours before the show begins, the coverage of the empty tents and vacant red carpet is absolutely riveting.
I’ll be flitting between TVGuide, E! and ABC for pre-Oscar coverage, so stick around!