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Monday, March 6, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Backstage pass at the Oscars

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – On screen, in view of the world, they made the appropriate thank yous with the appropriate tone (unless, of course, you were a member of Three 6 Mafia). Backstage, though, The Associated Press uncovered a whole different world — a place where actresses cry, actors tell jokes and stuffed penguins run amok.

We outta here!

As the only Academy Award winners to ever wear grills to accept an Oscar, Three 6 Mafia say there is more to come.

"Hip-hop is taking over right now," rapper Jordan "Juicy J" Houston told reporters shortly after accepting the Oscar for best original song for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp."

Their over-the-top acceptance speech earned the praise of host Jon Stewart, who told the audience: "That's how to accept an Oscar."

Backstage, Three 6 Mafia said they didn't believe they were going to win and were headed back to the dressing room from their performance when their names were read.

"I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't stand still. I had to run somewhere," Juicy J said. "People thought the police was probably chasing me somewhere."

For the record, Juicy J said they did not swear during their performance.

"We changed the lyrics up completely," the rapper said. "My mom was watching. I didn't want to say any cuss words."

For the record: The Academy Awards doesn't allow them, anyway.

It's mine!

Reese Witherspoon got fashion savvy, wearing a 1955 vintage Christian Dior and accessorizing it with a gold, shiny, sort of heavy Oscar.

Witherspoon gave reporters the history of the dress minutes after winning the Academy Award for her role in "Walk The Line."

The attention to the dress came after the one she wore to the Golden Globes was found to have been worn by another actress on a red carpet several years earlier.

"It's had one original owner," Witherspoon said. The previous owner, she said, had passed away. "I feel honored to wear it."

While Witherspoon was answering questions, she got word that "Crash" had won best picture. "My whole mind is blank," she said. "I just found out my husband's movie won the big award."

Her husband, for the record, is Ryan Phillipe.

Bark at the Oscar

Philip Seymour Hoffman reneged on a bet when he won the Academy Award for best actor for his role in "Capote."

Years before his award-winning turn, he bet his college friends that if he ever won an Oscar he would bark (yes, like a dog) during his acceptance speech.

Backstage, he said he considered barking a few lines at the end.

But "I literally lost all control of my bowels up there," he said.

Hoffman's college friend, Steve Shoe, has told reporters in recent weeks he would make Hoffman pay if he didn't bark.

And what does Hoffman think Shoe will do to him? "I think he's going to give me a big fat hug."

Tweet. Tweet. And oui, oui.

"It means thank you in penguin," Luc Jacquet told the audience after accepting his best documentary Oscar for "March of the Penguins."

Turns out the directors of the winning documentary didn't win the stuffed penguins they carried on stage to accept their Oscar at a carnival or a circus. They were gifts from their Japanese film distributor, who shipped the toys to the filmmakers for good luck.

And yes, they carried the stuffed penguins throughout the night. But that's about all most reporters were able to understand as the filmmakers answered most of the questions in French.

From the official Academy Awards interview transcript:

Q: (French).

A: (French).

Q: (French).

A: (French).

Q: Sorry to be rude and keep quoting French, but (French)?

A. (French.)

Q: (French).

A: (French).

What's with the ties?

So what do you do if you win an Oscar? If you're the co-directors of "Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit," you deck your matching gold statues with matching ties — miniatures of your own matching oversized striped ties.

"We didn't know each other was going to wear these ties," co-director Nick Park joked backstage.

The ties were made by the wife of co-director Steve Box, who said they were a little concerned about how their actions would be viewed.

"We know how sacred the Oscars are," Box said. "But we said, what the heck."

Shoe power (not)!

Felicity Huffman wore her lucky silver "Maggie" heels by RODO, the Italian designer. Huffman, who was nominated for best actress for her role in "TransAmerica," has been seen in her lucky shoes at the Golden Globe Awards and the SAG Awards.

But she opted to carry a RODO handbag rather than wear the shoes to the Academy Awards. Apparently, the handbag didn't work as well as the shoes. Reese Witherspoon won for her role in "Walk The Line."

On the other hand, Oscar winner Rachel Weisz doesn't believe in superstition.

"I don't have anything that I bring with me to bring me good luck," Weisz said minutes after winning the Oscar. By the time you arrive at an aware show, "it's too late for luck. ...It's already been decided."

Heart of gold

Robert Altman, the 81-year-old director, got his first Oscar — a lifetime achievement award. And then he promptly told the world he had a heart transplant a few years ago.

Backstage, Altman told reporters there was no plan for the tell-the-world part of the speech.

"I don't know," he said. "It just occurred to me."

Altman said he thought if people in Hollywood knew, he wouldn't get another job.

"You know, there's such a stigma," he said.

Altman doesn't know who donated the heart but he has a pretty good idea about the person's gender.

"I have a female heart, I think. It feels like it," he said. "It's about 40 years old. And it came from Tacoma or someplace in Washington."

They said it!

— "Not all gay people are virile cowboys. Some are actually elite intellectuals from New York City." — host Jon Stewart during the opening monologue.

— "Thank you. I do my own stunts." — Jennifer Garner, after almost tripping on stage.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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