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SIDE SHOW

(Final edited version not provided for the electronic library. Please see microfilm.)

BEWARE: These people passed an FBI background check to get seats in the bleachers outside the Kodak Theatre for Sunday's Oscar ceremony. The Office of Homeland Security has a lot of work to do.

CAUGHT ON THE CARPET:

Few things are as excruciating as watching Joan Rivers interview celebs on the red carpet (was I the only one who heard her call Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, an "idiot"?), but Oscar night is about nothing if suffering for one's art. Especially when it means finding out who came with whom:

Best supporting actor nominee Jon Voight's date was Nastassja Kinski. When Joan pointed out that he usually brings family members to awards shows, he said Kinski is "family, too." . . . Nicole Kidman's date was one of her sisters. . . . Marcia Gay Harden, last year's best supporting actress winner, brought her mother along. . . . Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock were there together but are "just friends," Bullock said. "She's very much in love with me," Grant said. They're doing a movie together. . . . Sissy Spacek arrived with her 13-year-old daughter, Madison, and her 19-year-old daughter, Schuyler (Snow Day, Orange County). . . . Mr. Halle Berry ( Eric Benet) gets the most supportive husband award. Runner-up is Mr. Sharon Stone ( Phil Bronstein).

Russell Crowe had the sense to avoid Joan. But he spoke on ABC's preshow with his date, girlfriend Danielle Spencer. And there was no sign of Kate Winslet's controversial (in Britain, at least) boyfriend, Sam Mendes.

Gosford Park producer/co-star Bob Balaban told Joan that truck drivers yell at him on the street "Love Gosford Park!" It's a well-kept secret: Movies about hunting weekends at English country houses are big with truck drivers.

Samuel Jackson said he's eager to see exactly what he did in the next Star Wars movie as Mace Windu because "I was in a big empty room most of the time." But, he said, he was working with his favorite actor: himself.

Technically, the color of the carpet on which everyone was walking was cranberry, Melissa Rivers said during E!'s red carpet preshow. Even though it constantly was being confused with burgundy.

These were the shoes of the night. Designed by Stewart Weitzman for the occasion, they are pure platinum and have 464 diamonds, he told E!. They took 8 months to do. He wanted a cutting-edge actor to wear them and picked Laura Harring, a former Miss USA who is getting attention for her role in Mulholland Drive. Harring's stylist told Weitzman she wears a size 8. When Weitzman saw the movie and got a good view of her feet, he knew she didn't wear an 8 (years of feet experience told him this, he said). So, he said, he had three pairs of the shoes ready: 7, 7{ and 8. When Herring tried on the 8, it was too big. She wears 7{.

I'm still wondering who actually turned on their TV at noon Sunday to watch six hours of E!'s buildup to Joan's mostly insufferable interviews on the cranberry carpet. But now I know how the network dedicated to celebrities fills the time. Sunday afternoon featured two segments on the live fish that were put into bowls for table centerpieces at the post-ceremony Governors Ball.

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