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Behind-the-Scenes Vignettes at the Academy Awards : Backstage: Jeremy Irons on Claus von Bulow: ‘We may meet sometime’; Joe Pesci explains why he was brief.

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Best actor Jeremy Irons, speaking to reporters backstage at Shrine Auditorium, was asked whether he expected to have any contact with Claus von Bulow, whom he played in “Reversal of Fortune.” “We may meet at dinner sometime,” he said. “I’d love to meet him and tell him what he’s all about. But the man’s had enough invasion of his privacy without my calling him.”

A female reporter asked the actor what influence, if any, his wife, English actress Sinead Cusack, has had on his success. “Are you a married lady?” he asked. “Then you don’t have to ask that question.”

Kathy Bates, an actress primarily known for her theater work who won the best actress Oscar, was asked whether her victory might encourage directors to cast lesser-known actors in major roles. “I’m not sure. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

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Triumphantly, she added: “This one is for the actors!”

Bates said she will marry Tony Campisi, her boyfriend of 13 years, later this year. “He asked me to marry him two years ago,” she said. “But we haven’t had time. The first thing we’ll do after tonight is make out our wedding list.”

Joe Pesci, “GoodFellas’ ” thug Tommy DeVito, said of his two-word acceptance speech for best supporting actor, “I really wasn’t prepared. It’s a terrible thing, but I was geared up not to win. There were so many people to thank, I was afraid that if I started, I couldn’t stop and would get booed.”

Whoopi Goldberg said backstage that when Denzel Washington called out her name as best supporting actress for “Ghost,” “Words, bad words, were forming in my mouth--things beginning with ‘f’ and ‘s.’ Then I remembered where I was.”

Asked whether she regretted that she won the Oscar for the hit love story “Ghost” rather than an issue-oriented film like the civil rights drama “The Long Walk Home,” Goldberg shot back, “No. Are you kidding?”

After directing reporters to clean up her language, she added: “I’m (expletive) thrilled.”

Goldberg, the first black actress to win an Oscar since Hattie McDaniel for “Gone With the Wind” said, “I’m the first one since 1939 to walk away with it and it’s just too great.

“I never say I’m black (when I’m looking for work). I just don’t admit it because as soon as you say it, they tell you there’s no work for you. You wouldn’t say to a doctor that he couldn’t operate on your kneecap because he is black. In the same way, art should have no color and no sex.”

Goldberg says she hasn’t received any scripts since she was nominated and expects none as a result of this award. No sequel to “Ghost” is in the works. “We made the movie. We couldn’t make it better than it was done,” she explains. She’ll be seen next in a cameo role this summer in “Soapdish,” starring Sally Field.

“This has been a very good month for me,” Kevin Costner told reporters backstage. Clutching his two Oscars--best picture and best director--to his chest, he added, “I was never a big achiever in high school so I’m not used to this kind of thing.”

Costner was asked about a rumored four-hour version of “Dances With Wolves” in the offing. “There’s more of the story, more of the Indians, more of the people at the fort,” he said, standing alongside his partner and producer Jim Wilson. “I’m a believer that long is better, but this would probably be more appropriate for three nights of TV than for a four-hour film.”

Neil Travis, voted the award for best film editing for “Dances With Wolves,” was asked to address rumors that Kevin Costner did not direct key scenes of the movie.

“Costner was the sole director as far as I was concerned,” Travis said. “I know of no other director--but I think I know how that rumor got started. Kevin Reynolds, who is the director of (“Prince of Thieves” in which Costner is starring), was on the set for about two weeks. He directed the second unit . . . wagons crossing the plains, birds, prairie dogs. He didn’t direct any actors. He didn’t plot a scene. He had no overall directorial responsibility. That belonged solely to Kevin (Costner) and he was amazingly brilliant.”

Dean Semler, who received the Oscar for best cinematography for “Wolves,” agreed. “Kevin Reynolds did come to the set, but prior to that, Kevin Costner storyboarded the entire thing. In the buffalo sequence everything was planned. Obviously there were a lot of inserts and pick-up shots, falling buffalo and whatever, which would have taken too long for the principal unit to do. Units one and two were combined, but Kevin Costner directed it all.”

Bruce Joel Rubin, winner of the best original screenplay award for “Ghost” was asked to compare that film--a “critical and popular success"--with the less successful “Jacob’s Ladder” which he also wrote. Rubin, in response, disputed the critical part of the description. “Some critics called ‘Ghost’ one of the worst movies ever made,” he said. “People magazine said that the director and I should go to hell for making it. But obviously the movie affected a lot of people because they came to see it many times.”

To what extent, Rubin was asked, will he participate in the profits of “Ghost,” which has grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. “I own 4% of the film,” Rubin claimed. “But I’ve yet to see a penny. I heard that people on ‘Batman’ didn’t see anything. Same with those on ‘Fatal Attraction.’ But I’m hoping that Paramount will be good and responsible to me.”

Michael Blake, who won the award for best adapted screenplay--in his case from a book he had written at the behest of Costner and producer Jim Wilson--was asked whether his recent battle with Hodgkin’s disease made the prize any more meaningful. “This night is meaningful to me because it’s another day that I’m alive. Oscar night is very special of course, but every day is. I’m in remission now. They expect me to recover entirely. But I live from blood test to blood test like all cancer patients.”

Producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown were the winners of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Zanuck said his proudest achievement was “Driving Miss Daisy,” which won the Oscar for best picture last year.

Brown pointed out that completing a film--a film of any sort--is a major achievement these days. “They ought to give an award for getting a movie made, given the shifting sands of corporate power,” Brown said. “During one of my movies, there were two changes of ownership and three changes of management. This situation is endemic to most producers.”

Inside the auditorium, the ceremony was disrupted briefly--during a commercial in the television coverage--when a tuxedoed man also shouted statistics about Hollywood’s neglect of the AIDS epidemic. Security guards pulled him from the auditorium.


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