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Oscar Night/Oscar Countdown to About 7:37

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2006

Late last night I watched ''Good Night, and Good Luck.'' Today I sat through ''Brokeback Mountain.'' I am trying to get my Oscar-telecast game face on. Of course, the anticipation of all that earnestness and solemnity has forced me to cleanse the movie palate, so right now I am watching ''Caddyshack'' on HDNet Movies.

Cleansing is done, and I have turned to ''Oscar Countdown.'' This is the bride's favorite part, because she likes to look at the gowns. So far, though, she is thumbs-down on Keira Knightley and Amy Adams, and has shouted "NOOOOO!'' at Naomi Watts. I am feeling more kindly toward Knightley, because she has a sense of self-mockery and humor that is largely lacking in the Oscar pre-show hosts. Billy Bush did not know what to do with Knightley's banter.

''YUCH!'' screams the bride. Helena Bonham Carter is in her sights. ''If I had the money to buy any gown I wanted ... '' the bride says.

Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger. Williams looks grossly over-made up. Bush sounds as if he is reading his comments off of cards.

Jada looks good. (Bride concurs.) Will is coolly whimsical. But the show still has 45 minutes to fill before the Oscars really start. Now they're running a series of clips from movies with monkeys and apes, tied to ''King Kong.'' Nor is this the first time ''Kong'' has been brought up. They must be trying to showcase a movie that most of the audience actually saw.

Commercials, More blah blah. Recap of the best-actor nominees. And now the ''top critics'' -- Leonard Maltin, Joel Siegel and someone I don't recognize. The bride is miffed. ''Show me the gowns,'' she declares, ''and you'll keep me around.''

Over to TV Guide Channel. Joan Rivers is talking about hip-hop with Ludacris. Much funnier than anything on ABC.

I dutifully return to ABC. Commercial. Back to TV Guide Channel. Joan Rivers is asking Ang Lee if his approach to directing is like Hitchcock's. Melissa is with Cleveland's own Tom O'Neil and with Greg Proops. Melissa plugs the fashion wrap tomorrow night. New categories for the show: ''Best rack'' and best backside. Back to Joan. Jane Seymour and James Keach (Seymour's husband and a producer of ''Walk the Line'') stand by as ... Joan wraps up her show!

Back, to stay, to ABC. George Clooney affably deals with silly questions. Clip of Terrence Howard, now live with an ABC interviewer. ''Is this all a dream come true?'' ''It's the beginning of a dream come true,'' he replies. I suspect the interviewer does not know that Howard has been knocking it out of the park in movies and TV for years.

Nice gown on Jennifer Aniston. She's being called a ''style icon.'' She's asked what she thinks of the movies this year. Manages to answer without mentioning a single movie by name.

The questions for the stars are getting so lame that they can do only one thing: Give lame answers. Which of course means, another clip reel. 23 lonnnnng minutes to go.

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