ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION

Kirk Douglas' laughs and Melissa Leo's gaffe

For a not-so-brief moment, the Oscars became "The Kirk and Melissa Show."

In an evening marked by predictability, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas and veteran actress Melissa Leo provided perhaps the most spontaneous — and bleeped — sequence of the ceremony during Douglas' presentation of the supporting actress award. Douglas milked the moment, while Leo, who won the award for her performance as the frightening matriarch in "The Fighter," uttered the f-word.

The unusual turn of events came early in the show, soon after the 94-year-old took center stage. Thrilled by commanding the night's first standing ovation, Douglas seemed poised to make the big announcement. Instead, he engaged in a game of hand-over-hand on his walking cane with the man presenting him with the envelope as if to see who would name the winner.

Then, while the nominees waited in breathless suspense, Douglas did not open the envelope, teasing the audience time and again by feigning a series of tangents that began with "you know … " When Douglas finally declared Leo the winner, the overwhelmed actress bounded up to the stage, where she bowed before the three time lead actor nominee and asked what he was doing later in the evening. (Douglas then had to be awkwardly escorted away from Leo so that she could begin her speech.)

After taking several deep breaths, Leo referred to her "Frozen River" loss in the lead actress Oscar race to Kate Winslet in "The Reader," blurting out, "When Kate was up here two years ago, it seemed so [expletive] long."

The sequence became one of the evening's running jokes. Justin Timberlake pretended to vamp like Douglas while presenting the award for animated short subject, while Christian Bale, who won supporting actor for "The Fighter," said in his acceptance speech that he was not going to drop "an f-bomb" like his costar.

Leo apologized backstage for her raw language: "I had no idea. Those words. I apologize to anyone that they offended. There's a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular."

She also had high praise for Douglas and his stalling of the big moment. "You know, it's really funny, you know, because he's an old actor," said Leo. "Actually, he was doing us all this huge favor, because the longer he strung it out, the calmer I got to be."

greg.braxton@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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