Q: Did network censors hit the mute button at the beginning of Three 6 Mafia’s performance of Best Original Song ”It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”?
A: Yep. Though the group cleaned up the racy lyrics, replacing ”bitches” with ”witches,” ABC took no risks and silenced the first line, sung by Hustle & Flow actress Taraji P. Henson. ”Actually, she said ‘witches,’ but I think they were scared — they thought she was saying ‘bitches,”’ notes Mafia’s DJ Paul. ”They like, ‘Those rappers, there they go! I knew they was gonna do it!”’ But no matter, says bandmate Juicy J: ”I didn’t really worry about it. I just had a good time, you know? I’m like, I got an Oscar!”
Q: Reading from a TelePrompTer, presenter Jamie Foxx grimaced at having to call Best Actress nominee Charlize Theron ”South African-American.” Since when is Theron part Yankee?
A: Since never. The South African-born-and-raised actress lives in the U.S., but she’s not a citizen. Nice one, Academy.
Q: Was Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep’s free-flowing introduction for Honorary Oscar recipient Robert Altman ad-libbed?
A: Not really. Longtime Tomlin collaborator Jane Wagner wrote the speech, and the actresses worked together to nail the Altmanesque flair, including overlapping dialogue.
Q: Why did music play throughout the acceptance speeches?
A: The 16 prerecorded ”underscores” were producer Gil Cates’ idea, says musical director Bill Conti. ”I said, ‘As long as I don’t do it live, because it’ll spook [the winners] — they’ll think I’m playing them off!”’ No one in the audience heard the music; it was only on TV.