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Burning Questions

EW HAS ALL THE ANSWERS TO YOUR OSCAR-NIGHT HEAD-SCRATCHERS

How Bobcat Goldthwait scored a ticket is as much a mystery to us as it is to you. But who sat next to Clint, and why should we all hail Tom Hanks? That we know. Below, answers to the Big Night's biggest stumpers.

Academy president Frank Pierson said that someone once joked that ''Gregory Peck had a face that belonged on money.'' Who was it? Alan Greenspan? No, it was screenwriter Larry Gelbart, describing Peck at a 2003 memorial to the actor. ''I thought that about him the first time I saw him in Keys of the Kingdom. He had that look of integrity, authority, courage, and strength. And he wasn't acting,'' says Gelbart. ''The money thing was a reference to his presidential look, almost biblical. He could have been on either side of the coin, you know?'' Peck and Gelbart produced the 57th Oscars together in 1985.

Was that really 81-year-old Blake Edwards who raced across the stage in a wheelchair and crashed into the set before accepting his honorary statuette? Did we mention Edwards is 81? The stunt was performed by Mickey Gilbert, whose 45 years of experience include tumbling for Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Why did the orchestra play the presidential march, ''Hail to the Chief,'' for presenter Tom Hanks? ''Because he's like the king of Hollywood,'' says musical director Marc Shaiman. ''During the show, someone from the Academy said, 'I don't think you're allowed to play that for [just] anyone. It's against the law or something.''' D.C. didn't call (turns out the Academy is on the right side of the penal code), but Shaiman might have heard from a certain Top Gun had another song choice gone as originally planned. ''We had prepared 'Who's Sorry Now?' for Nicole Kidman's entrance, which was my joke on Tom Cruise,'' he says. ''But we were afraid it would seem like a [dig at] her for not being nominated.''

Who were all those nontraditional dates? Clint Eastwood brought his mother, Ruth Eastwood; Alec Baldwin accompanied Ireland, his 8-year-old daughter with ex-wife Kim Basinger; and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon chaperoned their 11-year-old son, Miles, and actor Liam Aiken, 14, who appeared with the actress in 1998's Stepmom.

And that man sitting next to Renee Zellweger? The one she called her ''beloved''? He ain't her ''ain true love'' -- that would be White Stripes frontman Jack White -- but longtime manager and awards-show companion John Carrabino.

Speaking of ain, what the heck does it mean? It's an 18th-century Scottish word for own. As for how many Civil War-era Southerners would have used it in conversation? Beats the hellfire out of us.

Originally posted Mar 12, 2004 Published in issue #755 Mar 12, 2004 Order article reprints
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