Backstage at the Academy Awards was a place for unscripted moments of jitters, jubilation -- and doggy treats.
“We’re so old and we’re so happening!” Meryl Streep shouted, throwing her arms around her longtime makeup artist J. Roy Helland when the two Oscar winners converged in the scrum outside the press room.
Behind Streep and Helland clutching their statuettes, Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier from"The Artist,"was collecting rewards for his performance as well -- some treats delivered by trainer Omar Von Muller.
Uggie had emerged from the stage quivering in the arms of best actor winner Jean Dujardin when “The Artist” won best picture. “Shaky shaky,” Dujardin said, kissing Uggie over and over.
It wasn’t only the Oscar winners who kept the production crew busy.
“Anybody have a 20 on Brad and Angelina?” a staffer called into his headseat.
Brad Pitt was the one up for an Oscar this year, but backstage he was rooting for his partner, Angelina Jolie, as she presented the two screenplay Oscars. Pitt watched Jolie quietly from a monitor in the wings. When Jolie emerged from the stage she rubbed Pitt’s back and wondered what to do with the envelope for original screenplay winner Woody Allen.
“Do we want to get this to Woody,” a stage manager asked. “Does he even care?”
Before she won her Oscar, even a veteran like Streep had to collect herself as a presenter. As she waited to introduce the Academy’s Governors Award winners earlier in the evening, Streep put on her glasses and read her script. Before she took the stage, the actress threw her shoulders back, straightened her dress, exhaled and peeked outside the curtain.
“You’ll push me out when it’s time?” she asked stage manager Dency Nelson.
“I’ll pull you gently, yes,” Nelson said.
Sandra Bullock was a supporting actress – lower case -- for best supporting actress Octavia Spencer Sunday night. When Spencer stepped off the stage after accepting her award, she could barely stand. Bullock held her for 30 seconds and then carried the train of her dress as the two walked through the wings.
“Sandy, thank you for that train,” Spencer said, before making a quick stop at the official Oscar Thank You Cam. Spencer got just one sentence out before stopping.
“I don’t wanna cry. I wanna be pretty,” she said.
As Spencer was whisked to the green room, the wings filled with another set of nervous performers -- the Cirque du Soleil “Iris” company, many of them bouncing on their toes and shaking out their feet.
“Remember guys, television is hurry up and wait,” stage manager Valdez Flagg told them. “Places please. Magical performance.”
Moments before stepping onstage together, presenters Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez practiced a stage turn. “Oh my God,” Diaz said under her breath, while Lopez gave her an encouraging smile.
The whimsical move had at least one big fan backstage. “That was genius!” Sandra Bullock wagged her finger at the ladies as she passed them on her way to the stage.
Diaz and Lopez bumped into Oscar producer Brian Grazer backstage as well, and the group discussed the audience’s muted reaction.
“It was like, uh, hello?” Diaz said.
Lopez jumped in: “We’re trying to entertain you!”
“You livened it up,” Grazer told them.
“We gave it our best one-two punch,” Lopez said.
Oscar traveled incognito on his big day. About an hour before the start of the show, four white-gloved prop masters pushed 49 Academy Award statuettes on a rickety A/V cart through the byzantine backstage area at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Manny Santoyo guarded the little gold men, as their handlers polished them with fluffy blue towels and placed them on a table at stage right, where they waited until presenters placed them in the winners’ hands.