Hollywood abuzz with Oscar preps

February 23, 2008 6:20:17 PM PST
Jewels and parties. Stars and stand-ins. Rehearsals and news conferences. So much swag even Hollywood canines could rack up free goodies. The city is abuzz with all things Oscar as celebrities flock from all over the world for Sunday's Academy Awards... SHOE FLAP: Fancy-footwear designer Stuart Weitzman chose "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody to wear his specially designed $1 million Retro Rose shoes on the red carpet.

The expensive slippers feature blooms encrusted with 1,800 Kwiat diamonds fixed to beige metallic T-strap high heels. But Cody's not completely thrilled about her selection, "now that I think about it."

"They're using me to publicize their stupid shoes and NOBODY ASKED ME," Cody wrote on her MySpace blog Friday. "I would never consent to a lame publicity stunt at a time when I already want to hide."

Weitzman was a no-show at his Four Seasons Hotel shoe suite in Beverly Hills on Saturday afternoon, while Taryn Cox, assistant to Scarlett Johansson (size 9), and "Today" show entertainment correspondent Jill Rappaport (size 10) browsed Weitzman's wares.

Weitzman was not made available for comment to the Associated Press.

--- LADIES' NIGHT: Half a dozen A-list actresses stopped by the Kodak Theatre on Saturday to rehearse their lines for the next day's Oscar ceremony.

Cameron Diaz, in a gray sweater, skinny black jeans and towering high heels, opened a prop winner's envelope and said, "The Oscar goes to - your mama. No, I'm just kidding."

She stepped off stage and bumped into Jessica Alba. "Hi, honey," Diaz said as she gave Alba a kiss.

Alba, who is expecting a baby with her fiance Cash Warren, hid her growing bump under a loose black tunic. Ponytailed and makeup-free, the star recapped her presentation two weeks ago of the academy's annual Sci-Tech awards - always a tongue-twisting challenge.

"You nailed it, hon," stage manager Dency Nelson told her. As soon as she walked off stage, she traded her high heels for comfy flats.

Renee Zellweger arrived in a sweat shirt, jeans and sneakers, her oversized Gucci bag slung over her shoulder. Before taking the stage, she plunked her bag on the floor and fished out a pair of tall Christian Louboutin heels. She left her socks and sneakers in a pile near her purse as she stepped out to rehearse her lines.

After hitting her mark, she slipped off the stilettos and tossed them back into her bag, saying, "Well, that's enough of these things for today" to no one in particular.

Zellweger greeted Katherine Heigl, who was headed to the stage carrying two pairs of heels. But shoes weren't her problem - seeing the teleprompter was. Heigl narrowed her eyes as she tried to make out the words on the screen at the back of the theater.

"Oh, no," she said. "I'll try not to squint."

Also switching shoes was Jennifer Garner, who swapped her running shoes for high heels before stepping onstage. An assistant held her sneakers as Garner rehearsed.

Expectant mom Nicole Kidman didn't fuss with her shoes. Looking elegant enough to attend the awards a day early, she wore kitten heels with black tights, a black dress and a black overcoat that obscured her tummy. Her husband, Keith Urban, was also dressed all in black, from his ball cap down to his sneakers.

"Thank you for being here," a worker backstage said to the Oscar-winning actress.

"I'm so pleased," she said with a smile. "See you tomorrow."

--- STAR-STUDDED REHEARSAL: On Sunday, the Kodak Theater will be filled with stars. On Saturday, they appeared one at a time.

The eve of the Academy Awards is rehearsal day for celebrity presenters. One by one, in 15-minute increments, Oscar winners and other famous folks come to the Kodak to walk on stage and practice their lines.

An unassuming Alan Arkin started Saturday's star parade. Wearing jeans and a black fleece jacket, he skipped to the microphone at center stage. He read from the teleprompter, then said, "And the Oscar goes to me!"

Harrison Ford was next. Carrying a coffee cup, he walked to the edge of the stage to see where he'd be sitting Sunday. A placard with his name and photo sat next to one bearing Calista Flockhart's.

"Aw, she's sitting right next to me," Ford said with mock annoyance about sitting beside his longtime girlfriend.

"We can fix that," stage manager Dency Nelson joked back.

A few academy officials brought their kids and grandkids to the theater Saturday, and just before 11 a.m., it became clear why: Miley Cyrus was coming in to rehearse. Accompanied by her look-alike mom, the gregarious teen star greeted her young fans - and everyone else she came across - with a megawatt grin.

After running through her lines, Cyrus was coached by her mom and publicist. Both urged her to slow down and to smile.

Longtime show writer Bruce Vilanch arrived just as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was expected to take the stage.

"Is this `The Rock?"' a friend joked, pointing to Vilanch.

"I'm the roll," the rotund writer replied.

--- GIRL POWER: Don't expect to see Allison Janney, who plays the dog-obsessed stepmother in Best Picture nominee "Juno," at Sunday's ceremony. During a Friday night cocktail party hosted by Women in Film and Perrier-Jouet at a Bel Air mansion, the "West Wing" actress revealed she plans to watch the show at a viewing party and celebrate any "Juno" wins at a Fox Searchlight after-party.

"I'd rather not go unless I'm nominated," she told the AP.

"I've been to enough award shows to know it's not a lot of fun.

It's actually stressful. I'd rather be somewhere where I can just chill and not worry."

However, fellow Women in Film cocktail partygoers Nancy Oliver and Tamara Jenkins definitely intend to endure the festivities at the Kodak Theatre. That's because the two female screenwriters are nominated, respectively, for their "Lars and the Real Girl" and "The Savages" scripts.

"I think it'll be like a big theme park ride," said Oliver, who's never attended the Oscars.

This year's 43 female Oscar nominees were toasted at the exclusive event. Potential winners mingling at the soiree were easy to spot in the party's cluster of black cocktail dresses and suits: all nominees donned white corsages. Dana Delaney, Judith Light and Sharon Lawrence were among some of the famous faces in the crowd.


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