"I didn't fall in the hole," said Jolie, gesturing to an open spot on the stage and towering over the young adults in a pair of spike heels. "I used to wear flip-flops, but you do this a few times and you learn to wear the shoes you're going to present in."
Jolie was on hand to practice for her role in the
On the telecast, it may not always seem well practiced, but the rehearsals are a chance for stars to perfect the highly specific skills of awards show presenting in front of a forgiving audience of crew members and stand-ins. They run through their stage walking, teleprompter reading and pronunciation of the evening's trickier potential winners' names (
It wasn't just the actors working out their pre-show jitters. As the aroma of
With multiple musical numbers planned for the show, including performances by
An escort led a decidedly casual
"You know how I am in front of people," Jackson said sardonically to the young woman charged with delivering him down the hall to the office of Oscar telecast producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan.
"Yeah, you seem really shy," she said.
In an office a few feet from the stage, Meron and Zadan conferred with their head writer, Kristin Gore, daughter of
Meron and Zadan have said host
"No, I'm good," Theron said. "I'm so good."
In the wings, stage manager John Esposito trained six film students on how to present the Oscar trophies Sunday night; last year Meron and Zadan replaced the models who had traditionally performed that role with the aspiring young filmmakers.
Out in the theater, the seats, marked with placards displaying the faces of the stars who will occupy them Sunday, were filled by 31 stand-ins, also known as rehearsal actors, many of whom had researched their "roles" for the week. Most of actors have been performing the union job — for which they just won overtime pay last year — for years. They're selected for their professionalism, reliability and, sometimes, resemblance to stars' body types.
After a few turns at the teleprompter, Poitier pivoted on his heel. "Is that it?"
The rehearsal actors delivered a standing ovation for the 87-year-old star — and then promptly heckled a colleague playing
"That's only the first year, Reggie, let's hear the next 11," someone shouted from
Pamela Dubin, who was playing
"Getting nominated, it's like sex," Dubin said. "Do you just wanna do it just one time? No."
Over more than a decade of working as a rehearsal actor at the Oscars, Tonys and Emmys, Dubin has played
"I consider it practice," said Dubin, who has appeared on TV shows including "Scrubs" and "The Practice" and worked in regional theater. "You know, for when I win the award."
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Rating: TV-14-DLV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and violence)