5:25: — The thing must really be ready to start. Billy Crystal has just been escorted to the stage.
5:28 p.m. — And the award for the last celebrity to take his or her seat before showtime goes to ... Actually, it's a tie this year, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie claiming the honor.
5:34 p.m. — Uh oh. "The Artist" might be coming down with a cold. As the Oscar for cinematography is being presented, "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin not-so-silently blows his nose and coughs a few times before apologizing to everyone around him.
5:44 p.m. — Billy Crystal's opening routine doesn't earn a full standing ovation inside the "Chapter 11 Theatre," as Crystal dubbed the venue that used to be named after financially troubled filmmaker Kodak. But maybe that's because Michelle Williams, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie and others are too busy jumping out of their seats to schmooze during the show's first commercial break. Leading the charge, George Clooney dashes over to hug his pal Brad Pitt and a cameraman.
6 p.m. — "That's what makes the Academy Awards what they are — because of you," Sandra Bullock tells Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz as they come off stage fretting that their backs-to the-audience presentation didn't come off as funny as they'd hoped.
6:10 p.m. — When Octavia Spencer was announced as winner of the supporting actress Oscar for "The Help" one of the loudest whoops came from backstage. "Sorry," Sandra Bullock quickly apologized as workers turned to stare. "I don't even know what I said," a still stunned Spencer remarked as she walked offstage and into the arms of Bullock.
6:25 p.m.: The Muppets puppeteers have taken up residence in a balcony box overlooking the theater. They'll soon be joined by their respective counterparts, Miss Piggy and Kermit, to introduce the Cirque du Soleil performances. They have a better seat that human co-star Jason Segal. He's situated down below, all the way on the right side of the theater next to a monitor broadcasting the show.
6:28 p.m. — Robert Downey Jr. chewed away on his gum and danced along to the music as he waited in the wings to present an award during the Oscar show's Cirque du Soleil performance. When his cue came he quickly deposited the gum in a napkin and stepped on stage.
6:42 p.m. — Stage manager Dency Nelson has discovered Downey's discarded gum. "Robert Downey Jr. chewing gum! We could sell it on eBay," Nelson jokes before tossing it in the trash.
6:50 p.m. — Wait a minute, this isn't a beauty contest. "How do you feel about relinquishing your title?" Robert Downey Jr. asks last year's supporting actress winner Melissa Leo after Octavia Spencer wins this year's award. "Oh, I'm not," she says. "''I thought you had to give them yours," Downey replies." I don't know how this works."
6:51 p.m. — Are the infamous Oscar hunger pangs already setting in? Meryl Streep just handed Sandra Bullock a piece of gum in the audience. A few minutes later, Melissa McCarthy hands what looks like a piece of candy to her "Bridesmaids" co-star Kristen Wiig.
7:21 p.m. — There's no need to survive solely on what Oscargoers have in their purses. An army of 1930s-era candy girls has just marched into the crowd to dole out popcorn and candy. Stacy Keibler grabbed some of each.
7:26 p.m. — It's not exactly "At The Movies," but Oscar show producer Brian Grazer has just gotten two thumbs up from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on how the program is going so far. "It's really, really good," Jolie tells him backstage.
Associated Press Writer Cristina Silva and Solvej Schou contributed to this report.
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