Well, after a NewsChannel 5 ad, anyway. And ads for Audi, Time Warner Cable, Lincoln (car, not president) and a brief NewsChannel 5 spot. Then the opening announcement of sponsors.
And now, Hugh Jackman. Straightforward comments, then pointing out stars in crowd (Kate Winslet, Robert Downey Jr.) and making a rueful reference to "Australia." Says everything is being downsized because of the recession, so he'll be starring in a movie called "New Zealand." And that there was no budget for a production number -- but he'll do one anyway. Cardboard set, and lyrics about "Slumdog" that make me long for the golden days of Billy Crystal. "Milk," then a shot at the academy for not nominating "Dark Knight," and a kind of funny backdrop for "Benjamin Button." Brings Anne Hathaway on the set to be Nixon in "Frost/Nixon." She's not a bad singer, and does the Nixon two-arm salute with some verve. OK, I like the bit about "I haven't seen 'The Reader.' " But the whole bit is only so-so, rambunctious ovation notwithstanding.
Jackman tells Mickey Rourke that for him they have a twenty-minute delay. Muffs a joke about Pitt and Jolie, then says he is contractually obligated to mention them at least five times during the show. Meryl Streep, mentions number of nominations and says "it's hard not to think steroids."
Streep's having won as best supporting actress leads into fumbled move to clips of best supporting actress winners, video then audio; five best-supporting-actress winners are intro'ed: Eva Marie Saint, Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Goldie Hawn, Anjelica Huston. Each has a few words for one of this year's nominees: Saint/Viola Davis, Huston/Penelope Cruz, Goldberg/Amy Adams (Whoopi's got a stunning tattoo, by the way), Hawn/Taraji P. Henson, Swinton/Marisa Tomei. This is all nice, but it sure seems designed to make a long show.
Winner: Penelope Cruz. "Has anyone ever fainted here?" she asks. Thanks Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Harvey Weinstein; some kind of yell from the crowd. She finishes in Spanish.