HOLLYWOOD — You saw Jack Nicholson on TV with his brand new Britney Spears hairdo, but you didn't hear the backstage prayers Jennifer Hudson offered for the unhinged pop star. You cheered when Martin Scorsese finally won his Oscar, but you didn't hear what he had to say about a "Departed" sequel. Sunday was Hollywood's biggest night, and MTV News was on the red carpet, backstage and at all the big parties to bring you the dish on who impressed, who was blessed and who simply ended up distressed.
With a giant "Norbit" billboard looking down on them all (a sign, perhaps, that Eddie Murphy wouldn't be taken seriously tonight?), dozens of huge names strolled down the red carpet into the Kodak Theater. Sacha Baron Cohen was in the house and out of character, followed by Anne Hathaway, Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Will Smith with his entire family, and hand-holding, vowel-loving couple Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Saarsgard. Jessica Biel stole the show in a head-turning gown that can only be described with the word "ridiculous" (read "Kidman, J. Lo Show Up Starlets; Hudson Misses Mark On Oscar Red Carpet" and check out photos of Biel on the red carpet), and Abigail Breslin hurried past while her mom rushed behind holding her Curious George doll.
The question on everyone's mind early on was whether Martin Scorsese's seventh nomination would finally bring one of the greatest directors of all time his Oscar (read "Marty's Party: Scorsese, 'Departed' (And Effie Too) Get Oscar Gold" and check out photos from the show). So we asked a few to finish this sentence: "If Scorsese doesn't win tonight ..."
"... The world will end!" insisted "Little Miss Sunshine" co-director Jonathan Dayton.
"... I'll spank a horse!" grinned Jodie Foster, who starred in Scorsese's "Taxi Driver."
" ...Then he never will," insisted "Departed" producer Graham King. "I think then, there's a definite personal problem between the Academy versus Martin Scorsese."
Then Spike Lee came by, and offered up a quote that could prove fodder for those Oscar conspiracy theorists who still believe that Jack Palance misread Marisa Tomei's name in 1992: "I heard that Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas are presenting best director," Lee told us hours before Scorsese would get his gold. "So that should tell you something right there."
Sure enough, the buzz in the press room — where the winners go immediately after receiving their prize — was that the three mega-directors wouldn't have agreed to present together unless they knew an award for their compatriot was a lock. The Oscar accounting firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers insisted that only their two representatives knew the winners in advance — but even Scorsese himself made a statement that seemed to cast some doubt.
"That was an extraordinary moment when the three of them came out and gave me a look," the "Departed" director said after his win. "To see the three of them walk out and give me a look before they opened the envelope; I was very surprised."
Regardless, the director's Boston mafia masterpiece is now his biggest box-office success, so it seems only natural that he confirmed plans to revisit the film. "It's interesting. ['Departed' writer] Bill Monahan and myself were talking about it the night the picture opened," Scorsese told MTV News. "I am interested in the possibility of doing a prequel — or a sequel. I don't know if I would direct, but it depends on how the script turns out."
With Mark Wahlberg having said that he'll be back for the next movie, we asked Scorsese about rumors that a part is also being written for Robert De Niro. "I don't know about those," he grinned, clutching his Oscar. "But that's not a bad idea."
Also backstage, Oscar-winner Helen Mirren addressed the press with what she said would be the first of many alcoholic beverages to guide her through the big night. "Vodka," the 61 year old "Queen" told us. "With Rose's Lime [Juice]; it's very British."
Mirren had similarly embraced her heritage hours earlier, as she spent her afternoon preparing for the big day. "I had tea with my circle," she revealed. "I have my sister here, we chit-chatted this morning. I sewed her gown; we had a girly morning, me and my sister."
Jennifer Hudson, minutes after winning her Oscar, greeted the press with the insistence that she owes more to "American Idol" than some might think. "[My victory] says that 'American Idol' is a great platform," the "Dreamgirls" star said. "Thank God there is such a thing as 'Idol'. There's many other talents that came before that didn't have a platform to sing, but they allowed us that platform, and for that we can say 'thank you.' "
"And Britney," Hudson smiled, choosing her words carefully when asked about Spears' recent rehab revolving door. "All I can do is pray for her; that's the best I can do. I don't know what's going on — and it ain't my business."
The rest of Hollywood was all up in Hudson's business, however, as the ceremony ended and a long list of well-wishers hit the parties to congratulate her first hand. "I'm going to the Vanity Fair party and the Governor's Ball," Hudson promised, but offered a warning. "I'm not a partier; I'll just have to sit down and enjoy it with myself, and just have my own private party."
Among the early arrivers at the Vanity Fair event were Oprah Winfrey and Mary J. Blige, who came together and waited for Hudson while talking up Best Actor winner Forest Whitaker to the herd of journalists.
"Forest," Gabrielle Union agreed, when asked what made this year's Oscars special for her. "It's so due, because he's been in this business for so long. He's put in his time, and he's basically done every job you can do. To see [Whitaker] win was great."
Breakout comedy star Sacha Baron Cohen was one of the few celebrities who crossed hectic Robertson Boulevard outside of the Vanity Fair party to sign autographs for fans. When he and fiancée Isla Fischer finally made it to the press line, however, the man behind Borat suddenly got shy and only posed for a few select photographs.
Diddy, sans entourage, spent 10 minutes at the entrance of Morton's barking into his cell phone. "Maybe his assistant forgot to give him his invitation," a red-carpet reporter wondered aloud. Nah. He got in fine, but was bitter about Eddie Murphy's loss for Best Supporting Actor. "I'm sure Alan Arkin's a good actor, but come on," he snapped. Minutes later, though, he was all smiles posing with Kanye West.
Chris Klein and Ginnifer Goodwin arrived hand-in-hand a few hours after Klein's ex, Katie Holmes, made a grand entrance with Tom Cruise. Other couples causing mini-riots: Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, and Will and Jada. The latter claimed to be only there so their son could meet "Buffy," i.e. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who arrived solo shortly after.
"I'm just excited," a noticeably graying Will Smith said. "We're having a good time, and it's a wonderful party. It's just beautiful."
"Pan's Labyrinth" star Doug Jones, meanwhile, accompanied the rest of the victorious cast and crew to another bash nearby. "MTV will be happy to know that I'm going to the Billboard party," he said, adding that he planned to celebrate with "Fantastic Four" sequel co-star Jessica Alba. "After that, we'll go to another [private] one up in the hills. ... But I'm not gonna watch the sun come up. I can't do that anymore."
A post-midnight arrival, however, seemed to indicate that Jennifer Hudson's one-woman-party plans were out the window and that she might very well be watching the sun rise in a few short hours with Oscar — and another statuesque friend — by her side.
"It's been amazing; it was such a wonderful night, being an African-American actor celebrating with Jennifer Hudson," her "Dreamgirls" co-star Beyoncé gushed as she headed inside to rendezvous with this year's Best Supporting Actress. "She brought me to tears. ... It's been a beautiful night."
"It's like a reunion," said Beyoncé, who sang alongside Hudson onstage just a few hours prior. "She's coming to the party, and I can't wait to celebrate with her."
The show's over but the fun hasn't stopped! From the awards ceremony to the star-studded afterparties, join MTV News as we head backstage and hit the red carpets for Hollywood's biggest night. Check out photos of the hottest Oscar action, watch exclusive celebrity interviews and read the latest buzz on Movies.MTV.com.
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