The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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High on humour, Oscars to have twist in the tail

Beverly Hills (California), Feb. 10 (Reuters): Charlize Theron wore white and looked more like a goddess than a monster. Ben Kingsley was next to her in a black suit while nearby, Clint Eastwood stood in the shadow of a giant Oscar statue.

The scene was the group photograph at the annual gathering of Oscar nominees for a pre-Academy Awards lunch at the Beverly Hills Hilton where the emphasis was on accomplishment and not on victory, as a who’s who of Hollywood showed up to chat, rub shoulders, network and reminisce.

Joe Roth, the veteran filmmaker producing his first Academy Awards telecast, admitted to a certain nervousness about the February 29 show to be hosted by Billy Crystal, a show he promised would be “funny and quick” and have a surprise at the end when the cameras go back stage to catch all the winners at once.

When he said that, people at various tables chuckled and wondered, “Did he just give the surprise away'”

But Roth also gave winners the traditional warning: victory speeches must not last longer than 45 seconds, no matter how many relatives you have to thank.

The lunch drew several actors not used to fame, including youngest-ever best actress nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 13-year-old star of Whale Rider, who doesn’t know if she will ever act again. She said,“I just met Charlize Theron and I was like, Oh, my God’.”

Theron is one of her competitors for best actress. She was nominated for Monster, a role for which she did a total transformation.

Several actors at the lunch questioned whether the Oscar telecast should have a five-second delay, a move prompted by Janet Jackson’s breast-baring at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Asked about it, Tim Robbins, nominated for best supporting actor in Mystic River said, “What are they afraid of' Spontaneity is great.”

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