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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hollywood's Gold Rush

Aired March 5, 2006 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi, everybody and welcome to our live coverage of the Oscars. I'm Sibila Vargas.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: I just had a gun pointed in my face.

VARGAS (voice-over): In your face, Oscar nominees. The academy rewards some hot-button films.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: In cold blood.

VARGAS: Murder brought Capote to Kansas. Now CNN returns to the scene of the crime. Think you know your Oscars? "Jeopardy!'s" Alex Trebek puts you to the test.

ALEX TREBEK, TALK SHOW HOST: Here's the first clue. These two men refused their Oscars for best actor.

VARGAS: And the stars are surrounded, from eye pencil pushers to hairdo honchos, what it takes to put a nominee together.

GREGORY ARLT, CELEBRITY MAKEUP ARTIST: Whether you're Reese or Keira or Charlize, this is the secret weapon.

VARGAS: It's Oscars '06, so saddle up, put your best threads on. Live from the red carpet, this is "Hollywood's Gold Rush."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Hi everybody and welcome to our live coverage of the Oscars. I'm Sibila Vargas.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Brooke Anderson. Sibila, they call it Hollywood's biggest night, and for good reason. This is quite a spectacle.

VARGAS: Absolutely. I mean, the energy is palpable. The weather cooperated. It's been rainy these past few days. But gosh, the sun came out, dreams will be coming true tonight.

ANDERSON: What a thrilling night for so many of the nominees here. And down on the red carpet is our co-host A.J. Hammer. A.J., what's happening?

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I think I need to start off the night with a cliche. I'm sorry, there is definitely a party going on here tonight. As you said, Sibila, the energy is palpable. OK, that's too cliches.

I'm live on the red carpet. And yes, we're about two hours away from Hollywood's biggest night. And we have the angles covered all over the place. You are not going to miss a moment of this in the next hour. Let's throw out that limo cam, because we want you to see every single star pulling out of their big stretch limousines.

Also, the red carpet cam, so you don't miss a moment of the stars arriving and doing their walk down the red carpet, getting applauded by all the fans who've come out to see them, talking to all the press, talking to CNN of course.

And we have a camera poised high above the Roosevelt Hollywood Hotel where the very first Academy Awards took place all the way back in 1929., where I believe you had to pay 10 bucks a ticket to get in.

Well this is a show you can't get into and that's why we're bringing you all the action. And if you check out this year's best picture nominees, one thing is clear. With all of the nominated films, no subject was too taboo. From sexuality, to racism, to terrorism, politics. And it's all for a good reason. And this year the Academy Awards are obviously awarding the heavy-hitting films. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOFFMAN: I haven't written a word yet.

HAMMER: Journalistic ethics explored in "Capote" and "Good Night, and Good Luck."

DAVID STRATHAIRN, ACTOR: Where do I go with this story?

HAMMER: Homosexuality in "Brokeback Mountain."

JAKE GYLLENHAAL, ACTOR: I wish I knew how to quit you.

HAMMER: The hot button issue of racism in "Crash."

LUDACRIS, SINGER: Do we look threatening?

HAMMER: And terrorism and its legacy in "Munich."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 11 Palestinian names.

HAMMER: This may be the most politically-charged quintet of best picture nominees in Oscar history.

DAVE KARGER, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: As opposed to years past when the Oscars have really been dominated by more big-budget special effects movies like "Titanic" or "Lord of the Rings," this year's best picture nominees seem to be smaller movies that have a lot more on their mind.

STRATHAIRN: We're going to go right at them.

HAMMER: What's behind this season of thinking films?

KARGER: The last few years have been a very politically divisive and politically vibrant time in this country and I think the film industry this year has really started reacting to that.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: The films are certainly more political but that's I think because society is more interested in talking more about politics.

HAMMER: For "Crash" director Paul Haggis, the challenge was to portray the politics of racism in a way that hadn't been done before.

PAUL HAGGIS, DIRECTOR: We're talking about intolerance and those things, I wanted to show that we are heroes and we are villains ourselves. We contain those contradictions because that's who we are.

HAMMER: Even beyond the best picture category, Oscar voters rewarded social and political themes. In the acting categories, you had workplace harassment highlighted by nominations for Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand in "North Country."

FRANCES MCDORMAND, ACTRESS: We can take any crap they dish out, can't we?

HAMMER: And issues surrounding transsexuality recognized by Felicity Huffman's nomination for "Transamerica."

FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS: There are a lot of films this year that speak to -- that speak for people that don't feel that they have a voice.

HAMMER: And the message-laden movies nominated for Oscars this year speak volumes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And joining me now to talk more about the Oscar race is Bradley Jacobs, senior editor of "US Weekly." Bradley, thanks for being here.

BRADLEY JACOBS, SENIOR EDITOR, US WEEKLY: Thank you, Brooke.

ANDERSON: And we just saw it and heard it in the piece. It is a political year for these Oscar nominees. And why do you think the Oscar voters have responded so well to these films with these messages this year?

JACOBS: Yes, it's a very dark year. This is the year that the academy members said that the dark, more character-driven films like "Crash" and "Munich" and "Brokeback Mountain," of course, were more deserving of nominations than the more big blockbusters in the past. You remember, it wasn't that long ago that "Titanic" dominated the box office and the Oscars. So you know, it's very different from that.

ANDERSON: Right, nine or 10 years ago, "Titanic" was just the one to beat. And I want you to handicap some of the nominees here tonight. Let's start with the most coveted category, best picture. Many say it's going to be a razor-thin race between "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash."

JACOBS: I don't think it's so razor thin, actually. I think "Brokeback Mountain" has got this all wrapped up. There could be a small chance that "Crash" could end up with all the -- enough votes to win. But I don't think so.

ANDERSON: Because its gained a lot of momentum recently.

JACOBS: It has, its had a lot of momentum in the last couple of weeks especially. But I don't think it has enough to win. I feel like it's "Brokeback's" year.

ANDERSON: You're going with "Brokeback." OK, in the best actor category, you have the star of "Brokeback," Heath Ledger. But also Philip Seymour Hoffman. Now, what a tremendous transformation this guy made for his role as Truman Capote.

JACOBS: Absolutely. This is the exact role that academy members love. He's playing someone real, you know. First of all, you love celebrities playing other celebrities. He's playing a -- he's doing a tender story, a tough story. And also you can't forget that Philip Seymour Hoffman has won every award so far. Up until the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday where I talked to him. You know, he's won every award. I think it's his also tonight.

ANDERSON: It would be a surprise if someone upset him. And then best actress. Let's talk about the ladies a little bit. Felicity Huffman transformed herself in "Transamerica." But Reese Witherspoon really, a career changing, career-defining role for her in "Walk the Line."

JACOBS: Absolutely. This is the one that Reese Witherspoon has been waiting for, the one to push her up and over and turn her into that A-List powerhouse. She's not even 30-years-old. She's won every award including the SAG Award. Playing June Carter Cash was the best decision Reese Witherspoon could have ever made. It's done wonders for her and I think she's going to win tonight.

ANDERSON: A number of stellar performances being honored here at the Oscars tonight. By the way, you look very sharp.

JACOBS: Thank you, I'm wearing Prada tonight.

ANDERSON: Oh, a little Prada, can't beat that. All right, Bradley Jacobs from "US Weekly," thank you so much.

JACOBS: Thank you.

ANDERSON: And when "Hollywood's Gold Rush" continues, did you hear the one about "Brokeback Mountain"? Late-night comics turned the Oscar favorite into a joke. Have they gone too far?

And the ladies of the Lebanon Kansas Bell Choir rate this year's Oscar nominees. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just not interested in all the sex and scandal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why can't they make a movie where there's no swearing?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: But first, think you know your Oscar history? The host of "Jeopardy!" is about to put you to the test.

TREBEK: Hi, folks. I'm Alex Trebek with some very special Oscar-related "Jeopardy!" clues for "Hollywood's Gold Rush." Our category is Oscar fun facts. And here's the first clue. These two men refused their Oscars for best actor. I'll be back with the correct response in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TREBEK: Welcome back. The category was Oscar fun facts and here was the clue. These two men refused their Oscars for best actor. The correct response of course, who were Marlon Brando and George C. Scott? Brando turned down the trophy for his work in "The Godfather" and Scott refused to pick up his Oscar for his work as "Patton." Now let's go back to Brooke, A.J. and Sibila at the Oscars.

ANDERSON: Thanks so much, Alex. All right, some people are saying the academy went out of its way this year to nominate films that not many people have seen. For instance, "Capote" has only done about $23 million at the box office.

So is there a disconnect between Hollywood and middle America? I traveled to the heartland, Lebanon, Kansas, to see for myself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Far from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood lies Lebanon, Kansas, population 250 people, median age, 52. A place where three houses recently sold for a grand total of $11,000 on eBay.

(on camera): Many have asked the question, is Hollywood out of touch with middle America? What better place to find out than the middle of America? This is the geographic center of the continental United States in Lebanon, Kansas.

RANDY MAUS, LEBANON RESIDENT: Out here at least in rural America, where it's the Bible belt, we're still looking for movies that have creative substance and a storyline.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Randy Maus is a Lebanon transplant from the Boston area. He along with other Lebanon residents including the ladies of the Methodist Church Bell Choir aren't exactly thrilled with the films the Oscars are honoring. (on camera): Has anybody seen "Brokeback Mountain?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

ANDERSON: Anybody want to see it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just not interested in all the sex and scandal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just not my style of life.

GYLLENHAAL: I wish I knew how to quit you.

ANDERSON: What kind of movies do you want Hollywood to make?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about "Sound of Music" and some of those?

(SINGING)

ANDERSON (voice-over): We stopped by the Lebanon hot spot, Ladow's Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to a farming way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've never been back in here to know what it's like to actually have to make a living doing this.

ANDERSON: The closest theater is 12 miles away in Smith Center, Kansas. One movie theater, one film shown per week and none of the movies nominated for best picture have played here.

MIKE HUGHES, CENTER THEATER: We have a large senior citizen base so we gear a lot of our movies towards that and our children's pictures do really well.

ANDERSON (on camera): So say you put "Brokeback Mountain" on the screen?

HUGHES: I feel, I feel it would not play very well. It wouldn't be profitable for us.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Dave Karger, a senior writer for "Entertainment Weekly" says profits aren't the driving force behind the Academy Awards.

KARGER: They're about recognizing the five best movies of the year, not the five most profitable movies of the year.

ANDERSON: Here in the middle of America in Lebanon, the Oscars are as far from their minds as they seem to be from the minds of those in Hollywood.

(on camera): Does anyone plan to watch the Academy Awards?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Oscars are for the people in California. I don't think anybody else really cares.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why waste your time? We'll come to bell choir practice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And in addition to "Brokeback Mountain" many people there told me they hadn't even heard of the other best picture nominees, "Crash," "Capote," "Good Night, and Good Luck," and "Munich." And even if they had, they said they might not be that interested in even seeing them.

And joining me now, again, to talk about this so-called Hollywood disconnect is Bradley Jacobs again from "US Weekly." Bradley, what do you think, is Hollywood out of touch of middle America? Is Hollywood pandering to an elite agenda with no regard to what middle America wants?

JACOBS: No, I think Hollywood is just saying these are the best movies this year. You know, if you start awarding "Batman Begins" or "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," all the Oscar nominations, because they made the most money last year, you might as well throw the whole process out the window.

ANDERSON: So it's not about the box office blockbuster? It's about good movies.

JACOBS: Well these do happen to be smaller movies this year. You know, last year the five best picture nominees all together made $315 million. Right now, the top five have only made about $235 million, so, and last year that was the least they'd ever made before. So I mean, these are not box office power houses. But again, there's art and commerce.

ANDERSON: You're right. It's about the smaller, more independent film. And I'm sorry to interrupt you, Bradley, but I think A.J. has a very high-profile guest, one of the big nominees down there on the red carpet. A.J., who do you have?

HAMMER: I do, Brooke, I have a first-time nominee joining me. Rachel Weisz, nominated for her role as a passionate activist in "The Constant Gardener." First of all, you look amazing, congratulations. So many political themes that are being nominated being recognized at this year's Academy Awards. What do you make of that, because your film, "The Constant Gardener," certainly among that?

RACHEL WEISZ, ACTRESS: I don't know how to interpret it. I think it's definitely a good thing. And I heard someone being asked this question yesterday. And he said, "I think the question is not why is it suddenly happening? The question is why hasn't it been happening for all the years where there haven't been political films?" I don't know the answer to either of them.

HAMMER: Certainly getting a lot of people talking. I see you brought along a very special date tonight. Can you back up a little bit so everybody can see who you have with you?

WEISZ: You can see better on this side.

HAMMER: How far along are you?

WEISZ: I am seven months.

HAMMER: This is going to be an amazing story to tell your child.

WEISZ: I know, look where you went.

HAMMER: And of course, everybody needs to know what you are wearing tonight because fashion is a big part of the Academy Awards.

WEISZ: Absolutely. I'm wearing Narciso Rodriguez and I'm wearing diamonds by Chopard.

HAMMER: And you look lovely. Congratulations and good luck tonight on your first nomination.

WEISZ: Thank you so much, lovely to see you.

HAMMER: All right and Sibila, I'm going to send it back up to the action, high above the action.

VARGAS: Rachel Weisz looking absolutely lovely. Well when we return, the top 10 signs you're a gay cowboy. David Letterman takes aim at a best picture nominee. Want to look beautiful on Oscar night? For the stars it doesn't take a village, it takes an entourage.

ARLT: We're all getting out of the limo together. There's me, the make-up artist, there's the hair stylist, the clothing stylist, the manager, the publicist, the dog walker sometimes.

VARGAS: But first, "Jeopardy!'s" Alex Trebek tests you on your Oscar knowledge. And let me tell you, it's not easy.

TREBEK: It's a special edition of Oscar-related "Jeopardy!" on CNN. And our category is Oscar fun facts. Here's the next clue for you. She's the only person to win an Oscar for playing a member of the opposite sex. I'll be back in a moment with the correct response.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TREBEK: We're back. The clue was she's the only person to win an Oscar for playing a member of the opposite sex. And the correct response, who is Linda Hunt? You'll remember she won an Oscar for playing a man in the film "The Year of Living Dangerously." Now Felicity Huffman could equal that achievement tonight if she wins for playing a man about to undergo a sex change operation in the movie "Transamerica." Now let's go back to Brooke at the Oscars.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Alex. So Felicity could be the second woman to win that award. And Sibila, if "Brokeback Mountain" wins best picture tonight, you have to look out for the late night hosts, right? VARGAS: Absolutely. They've been having a field day. Lots of laughs at the expense of this movie and its gay scenes. But some people, they think that the jokes have gone too far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS (voice-over): The ads and the accolades have been hard to miss. The critics downright giddy. When "Brokeback Mountain" hit American theaters in December, reviewers swooned and the gay community cheered. A widely-promoted mainstream movie, a love story between two men, could sensitize people to the gay experience, they hoped.

GYLLENHAAL: I wish I knew how to quit you.

VARGAS: Then came the comic assault.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Here we go, top 10 signs you're a gay cowboy. No. 10, your saddle is Versace. No. 9, instead of "Home on the Range," you're singing "It's Raining Men." Raining men, there you go, buddy.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TALK SHOW HOST: I think it's great, honestly, that "Brokeback" led the way on this, because you don't want those guys behind you, you know what I'm saying?

VARGAS: On late night T.V., Jimmy, Jay, Conan, and Dave, and their guests use "Brokeback" for laughs the minute it came out.

NATHAN LANE, ACTOR: There's a couple of guys in the meadow, baring their supple thighs in the meadow.

VARGAS: SNL took a shot too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you must be lonely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope. We're good. Nice seeing you though, run along.

VARGAS: Fake movie trailers like "Brokeback to the Future" or "Top Gun 2: Brokeback Squadron" and other parodies run rampant online.

MATT FOREMAN, NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE: Its just kept on going and going and going and gotten cruder and cruder and cruder. I don't know where the line is, but it's definitely been crossed in "Brokeback."

VARGAS: Still, comedians insist they have a right to joke about whatever they want.

BILL MAHER, TALK SHOW HOST: There's never been a subject for comedy that has been more ripe or, I mean, or more done than homosexuality.

FOREMAN: People think it's just funny if you start talking about love and sex between two men, that that's something inherently funny. It's actually not. VARGAS: But other gay rights advocates don't think it's all bad.

JOE SOLMONESE, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: The good conversations that are forced as a result of this movie being so in the American people's consciousness, outweigh the insensitive jokes and the snickering and the kind of late night talk show commentary that we're hearing.

VARGAS: And with late night's Jon Stewart as this year's host, the Oscar show writers tell us to expect a fresh batch of Oscar jokes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Well, we'll just see what happens tonight. And remember, "Brokeback" is up for eight nominations, leading the way. Well moving on, Charlize Theron, stunning. Nicole Kidman, absolutely gorgeous.

But how do they get that way for their walk down the red carpet? We want to let you in on a little secret. They have some help, from an entire entourage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Webster defines entourage as a group following and attending some important person. And come Oscar night, no one takes this definition more seriously than Hollywood.

ARLT: It's like being in a clown car, a glamorous clown car. We're all getting out of the limo together. There is, you know, me, the makeup artist. There is the hair stylist. There's the clothing stylist, the manager, the publicist, the dog walker sometimes, sometimes the A.A. sponsor. You know, we are all in that limo.

VARGAS: From Pamela Anderson to Fran Drescher to Paris Hilton's mom, Kathy, Max Gregory Arlt has been part of a lot of entourages.

ARLT: My job is to just again make sure that they look 1,000 percent amazing at all times. No shiny forehead. Their lips look fresh, I check their teeth to make sure -- you know, sometimes we have a little snack in the limo on the way over, make sure that that snack isn't being seen by the whole world.

VARGAS: Another key player in any entourage, the hair stylist.

KEN PAVES, CELEBRITY HAIR STYLIST: The celebrity entourage without a hair person is not an entourage.

VARGAS: And Ken Paves would know. Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Celine Dion and Jessica Simpson all call Ken when they need a new do.

(on camera): What is your secret weapon?

PAVES: My secret weapon is all this hair.

VARGAS (voice-over): Paves says the accessory du jour at this year's Academy Awards will be added locks.

PAVES: I really believe that hair is an accessory. I believe in creating looks without commitment.

VARGAS: Patty Fox has made a commitment to fashion. She's been working with top designers and stylists getting their stars Oscar ready for more than a decade.

PATTY FOX, OSCAR FASHION COORDINATOR: Well, the fashion person is to make sure that, first of all, the right gown was selected.

VARGAS: Fox says classic jewels and colorful vintage gowns will be big at the Oscars this year, as well as a stylist in toe, carrying fashion's secret weapon -- a sewing kit.

FOX: You have got to be there to see if there are any emergencies, because sometimes something pops, and it will have to be stitched.

EVE, RAPPER: I've been sewed into things knowing that the only way to get out is to be cut out of it. I've been pinned into things where I know, OK, don't make a sudden move because you might get a pin in your ass.

VARGAS: From fashion fixes to fake hair and everything in between, in the end, a celebrity's entourage is there to make sure its star shines the brightest.

(on camera): An entourage, I can get used to this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: I can certainly get used to it, but let me tell you, if you want an entourage, you are going to have to pay some big bucks. But right now I'm going to throw it down to my colleague on the red carpet, A.J., who's got somebody very special for us. A.J., who do you have?

HAMMER: Another first-time nominee, Sibila. Yes, this young lady is nominated for actress in a supporting role as Ashley in "Junebug." Amy Adams joining me now. Now Amy, for people who haven't seen "Junebug," your character Ashley has this amazing, shall we say, joie de vivre. And she's a smalltown girl. What would she make of all of this?

AMY ADAMS, ACTRESS: Oh she would probably be like, "Oh my word. Oh my word. Oh my word."

HAMMER: A big hope for me is that this nomination and your presence here tonight will bring a lot of attention to what is truly a terrific film. I'm sure you are hoping for the same.

ADAMS: Well first, thank you. And yes, I really hope that I'm a good spokesperson for this film because it meant so much to me and it meant so much to everybody who worked on it. Phil, the director, and Angus, the writer, and the entire cast really just put their heart and soul into it.

HAMMER: See this is good, so if you win, you're working out a little bit of your acceptance speech right now.

ADAMS: Exactly. If I don't win, I'm getting it out, you know?

HAMMER: Now of course everybody needs to know what you're wearing. You look lovely. If you'd step back for the cameras and show it back.

ADAMS: I've got to kick a little. I'm wearing Carolina Herrera and I just love it. These are earrings that are Mrs. Herrera's personal jewels. She lent them to me. I'm just overwhelmed.

HAMMER: Well we wish you best of luck tonight with your nomination. It's nice to meet you.

ADAMS: Thank you so much, have a good evening.

HAMMER: Thank you, you too. We're going to send it back up to Brooke and Sibila.

VARGAS: A.J., joining me now is a woman who know all about those little beauty secrets of the stars. Mikki Taylor of "Essence" magazine. You just saw Amy Adams and we talked about entourages. People may think it's frivolous, but they need it come something like today, the Oscars.

MIKKI TAYLOR, ESSENCE MAGAZINE: Oh my goodness, absolutely. It's serious business. And from the moment the nominations are put out there, celebrities and their glam squads go to work.

And I tell you, I have seen everything from power facials to eyelash extensions to, you know, big work outs with personal trainers. But it's serious business and you really want to look nothing short of fabulous on a night like this. And so you really need to think about it.

VARGAS: Let's talk a little bit about how expensive a night like this can be for a star.

TAYLOR: Oh my goodness. Well you can start with yours truly. I've got 42 carats and $1.5 million just in my ears by Chris Heirs (ph). But you know, when you visit the various Oscar sweeps during the week, you can see.

If you add up the beauty drama alone from skin care and facials and microdermabrasions and peels. You know, then you move onto hair and color and styling, eyelash extensions, you know, liposuction.

It's a big-ticket night. And then of course there's the dress, my goodness. You know, it was amazing, a number of the surgeons were doing Botox injections for a perspiration-free night.

You know, you have to think about, you're in a $10,000 gown, haute couture. The last thing you want to do is worry about a little sweatiness. So yes, you really have to give deep thought to it. is a big ticket, but it is so worth it because the confidence that you want to exude, that's the backdrop to it.

VARGAS: I was getting my hair done by Ken Paves who does all of the stars and you know, I got the pieces in, and I felt like an absolute beauty. So it really does, I mean, confidence is everything. And when you have this group, this army around you, you really start feeling like you are beautiful.

TAYLOR: You absolutely do. And you know, it's the pay-off for all of the hard work. I mean, if you look at all of the films, the best actor and actress nominees, supporting actress, I mean, a lot of work has gone into this. And so this is the night you really want to shine. You've been recognized. And not only is the whole world watching, might I add, but they are being watched by their peers as well. And they want to be seen in their future for the next big project.

VARGAS: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Mikki.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

VARGAS: Such a pleasure talking to you.

All right, we have got so much more, live interviews with the stars from the 78th Annual Academy Awards. Plus, you'll also meet a man who has written 17 Oscar acceptance speeches but never delivered a single one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN O'CONNELL, ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: I have the last 25 years written acceptance speeches from -- dating all the way back to "Terms of Endearment." So -- and, you know, these are written, some on a napkin, some on scrap pieces of paper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: He's got the longest losing streak in Oscar history. That's coming up. But first, more Oscar brainteasers from the host of "Jeopardy!"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: If you're ready for your next clue in Oscar fun facts, then here it is. "During World War II, Oscar statuettes were made of this substance." I'll have the correct response for you when we return.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: We're talking Oscar fun facts today. And here was your clue: "During World War II Oscar statuettes were made of this substance." The correct response, if you said, "what is plaster," then you are absolutely right. In order to conserve metal for the war effort, the Oscars were made from plaster during the war. We'll be back with more later on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Thank you very much, Alex Trebek. I'm A.J. Hammer. Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the 78th Annual Academy Awards. It's "Hollywood's Gold Rush." I am live on the red carpet. Brooke Anderson is live atop all of the action here outside the Kodak Theatre.

And, Brooke, one of the nominees in the best picture category really has been bringing back some painful memories for one small Midwestern town, right?

ANDERSON: You are right, A.J. It's the town of Holcomb, Kansas, almost half a century ago it was the sight of a terrible crime that became the basis for Truman Capote's book "In Cold Blood."

HAMMER: And they really made Holcomb a central theme and a central part of this story. And I understand you recently had an opportunity to get back there.

ANDERSON: I did, A.J. I did visit Holcomb, Kansas. It was very eerie, and it was proof to me that although the crime may happened 46 years ago, Holcomb just can't forget.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Holcomb, Kansas, a small quiet farming community 70 miles from the Colorado border, quiet until four shotgun blasts shook this humble down to its core.

(on camera): It was here on November 15th, 1959, when two petty criminals drove down this tree-lined lane to the farmhouse you see in the distance. They entered through an unlocked door. That is when one of Holcomb's most prominent families was brutally murdered.

KEVIN BASCUE, FINNEY COUNTY SHERRIFF: The Clutter home, of course.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue wasn't even born at the time four members of the Clutter family were murdered. Yet he's become the town's unofficial expert on the case.

BASCUE: My guess is is that changed everybody forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was even afraid to go out by myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People got guns out they hadn't looked at for years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After this happened, you can believe the doors were locked all night. ANDERSON: The true story of the Clutter murders was immortalized by author Truman Capote's best seller "In Cold Blood," the 1967 film of the same name, and the current Oscar-nominated movie "Capote."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the name of your book?

JEAN HANDS, CLUTTER FAMILY FRIEND: You told the story once in your way, Capote, we don't need another way.

ANDERSON: Jean Hands sang at the Clutters' funeral in neighboring Garden City where Herb Clutter was a key benefactor at the First United Methodist Church.

CLIFF HOPE JR., CAPOTE CONFIDANTE: He was the kind of person that we really all wanted to become.

ANDERSON: Dolores and Cliff Hope befriended Capote. They as well as others say the author at times embellished the story.

C. HOPE: Truman called it a non-fiction novel, which, you know, then, it really can cover whatever he wants to say it is.

DELORES HOPE, CAPOTE CONFIDANTE: He was interested in making a little money, sell a book.

BASCUE: After every release of a documentary, whether it's on A&E or the release of the current movie "Capote," you are going to have that interest around the country stirred up again.

ANDERSON (on camera): I noticed there are some flowers.

BASCUE: There's always flowers here. And I've heard some comments around that nobody -- that they get placed here, but nobody seems to know by who.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Roses at the grave site and a rose-shaped stained glass window at the church, memorializing the slain family's legacy by the people who knew them best.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every Sunday when I look at the rose window in the church, I think of the Clutters.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Well, joining me now to talk Oscar fashion is stylist to the stars, Phillip Bloch.

Has anything wowed you yet though, Phillip?

PHILLIP BLOCH, FASHION STYLIST: Well, Rachel Weisz is looking pretty gorgeous. I was really pleased with her. I thought she looked stunning and she was wearing Narciso Rodriguez, yes.

VARGAS: Now, you know, how important is it for a designer to score today? BLOCH: Oh, it costs them millions of dollars. They send people out here first class, in the hotels, room service, taking everyone to dinner. It's really a lot of money. Big business, and then not that they are going to sell that dress in the stores, but it's about the name and the provenance (ph).

VARGAS: Yes, I mean, she was just on CNN saying, I'm wearing Narciso Rodriguez. That's good advertising, isn't it?

BLOCH: Well, it sells the perfumes and the paints and the shoes and all the other things, because you don't sell a lot of $10,000 gowns really.

VARGAS: Yes, well, talk to us about any trends that you've been seeing, anything special, anything striking?

BLOCH: I think we are seeing lots of different stones in the jewelry. It's not just the diamonds as usual. We are seeing a lot of diamonds, but colored diamonds, turquoise, different stones, I saw Taraji from "Hustle & Flow." She has this dress with all, you know, turquoise on it. And I understand that Amy Adams borrowed some jewelry from Carolina Herrera, who designed her dress.

VARGAS: Right. And, Carolina, of course, dresses Renee Zellweger.

BLOCH: Always.

VARGAS: She was actually one who said that dressing someone on the red carpet, putting jewels on them is almost like winning the lottery.

BLOCH: Exactly. Exactly, because you just never know how that's going to translate. And those pictures run forever. And they are a part of Hollywood history.

VARGAS: All right, well we have got to break for a little bit. But coming up on "Hollywood's Gold Rush," more live interviews with the stars.

And they like him. They really kind of sort of like him. The man who's been nominated for an Oscar 17 times but never took home the prize.

First Alex Trebek is back with more Oscar fun facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: I'm Alex Trebek and we've got more Oscar fun facts for you. Here's your next "Jeopardy!" clue. "This performer sweetened his resume by winning a Grammy and an Oscar." Stay tuned and we'll give you the correct response when we come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: Hi, folks. I'm Alex Trebek, and we're back with Oscar- related "Jeopardy!" for "Hollywood's Gold Rush." The clue was: "This performer sweetened his resume by winning a Grammy and an Oscar." If you said, "who was Eminem," you are right. The hint there was "sweet." He's won Grammys for his rap work, of course. And he won an Oscar for best song for the movie "8 Mile."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Thanks, Alex. I didn't know, Eminem, huh? But we are back with celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch who absolutely is looking dapper yourself.

BLOCH: Thank you. Thank you. A little Hugo Boss here. I've the got the...

(CROSSTALK)

VARGAS: That's very nice.

BLOCH: ... one-button (INAUDIBLE) lapel.

VARGAS: Is that what it is for the men today?

BLOCH: That's the trend, yes -- well, I want to be George Clooney when I grow up.

VARGAS: Who doesn't, right? Not me, though?

BLOCH: You look beautiful too. I love the bling. You know...

VARGAS: Ah, thank you.

BLOCH: ... the Oscars are not complete without all the bling. Who's your jewelry from?

VARGAS: Courtesy Neil Lane, of course.

BLOCH: Neil Lane, everybody wears his jewelry.

VARGAS: And my colleague, Brooke Anderson is wearing Mianco (ph).

BLOCH: Oh, Mianco (ph).

VARGAS: Mianco (ph).

BLOCH: Mianco (ph), yes.

VARGAS: Thank you.

BLOCH: Yes, Neil Lane a favorite of ours. Everybody loves his jewelry.

VARGAS: Well, let's see what my colleague down on the red carpet is wearing.

A.J., what are you wearing?

HAMMER: I hope Phillip approves. This is Ted Baker. But enough about me, enough about you guys, because I'm here with one of tonight's nominees. A first-time nominee, actor in a support role, Matt Dillon nominated, of course, for his role in "Crash."

Congratulations. Welcome to this, of course. Six nominations for "Crash" tonight. You got the sole acting nomination. So you are kind of representing the gang, aren't you?

MATT DILLON, ACTOR, OSCAR NOMINEE: I feel that way. I mean, I feel there was a number of performances in this film that easily could have been recognized. You know, it was just a great ensemble. So I feel like anything I get from this I share with them, you know, I share with my fellow ensemble.

HAMMER: Certainly a great performance turned in by fellow nominee, Terrence Howard, he is nominated for "Hustle & Flow." Have you had any communication with Terrence since the nominations were announced?

DILLON: I see Terrence all the time. And he's a tremendous guy and a great actor. But he's a great guy. And his performance in Crash," he could have been nominated for his performance in "Crash" just as easily as for "Hustle & Flow."

HAMMER: "Crash" one of the best picture nominees that certainly has some heavy themes to it, dealing with racism, among other things. What do you make of the fact that so many of the nominees this year have these heavy themes?

DILLON: Well, I think it shows that people are into authenticity at this point. You know what I mean? They are interested in films that are very specific and are addressing things, you know, they are interested in things that are trying to look at things that are not usually addressed in films.

HAMMER: Well, Matt Dillon, look at you. Not bad for a guy who, like me, grew up in the suburbs of New York City. Best of luck tonight.

All right. Sibila. I'm going to send it up back to you, high above all the action here on the red carpet.

VARGAS: Thanks. A.J. And Matt Dillon looking pretty dapper there.

BLOCH: There are some handsome guys out there tonight, Joaquin Phoenix, Terrence Howard, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George Clooney, three-time nominee.

VARGAS: And gosh, who doesn't lo love him?

BLOCH: We love him. VARGAS: You know, what are the options though for men?

BLOCH: It's not a lot. You have got a single button, double button, three button, long tie, white tie, black tie. I went for the little stripes. You know, tuxedo shirt, regular collar. The odds are slim but it's all about the cuff links. I went for a little bling myself here today. I like to live it up with the cuff links.

VARGAS: Very, very nice. Now I think I just saw Keira Knightley on the carpet.

BLOCH: Looking stunning. And Charlize Theron should be coming any minute now in Dior. You know, she has got the whole ad campaign for Dior this year. So it was a natural she would be Dior.

VARGAS: Reese Witherspoon, any word on what she might be wearing or how she might look tonight?

BLOCH: I don't know. There's a lot of speculation after her Chanel dress nightmare kind of at the Golden Globes. But you know, that's what happens with the fashion powers that be. But Keira wore Valentino to Golden Globes. And she is just so elegant, I saw her the other night at the Endeavor (ph) party, skinny as can be with very blonde hair and a cute new boyfriend that she starred with.

VARGAS: Can she ever go wrong though?

BLOCH: She's to beautiful.

VARGAS: All right. Well, coming up. More interviews with the stars live from the red carpet. And "Jeopardy!"'s Alex Trebek has another Oscar answer for you. But do you know the question?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: All right, ladies and gentlemen. We have come to the "Final Jeopardy!" clue in today's Oscar-related "Jeopardy!" game on CNN. As you know, the category is Oscar fun facts. And here is the "Final Jeopardy!" answer. "The host of 'Jeopardy!' appeared in this 1993 Oscar-nominated film." We'll be right back with the "Final Jeopardy!" question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREBEK: This was your "Final Jeopardy!" clue in Oscar fun facts. "The host of 'Jeopardy!' appeared in this 1993 Oscar-nominated film." The correct response, "what is 'Short Cuts'?" Yes, I appeared in a scene with Anne Archer and Julianne Moore in Robert Altman's film. Incidentally, Altman will receive an honorary Oscar at tonight's ceremony.

Back to you at the red carpet now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Thanks, Alex.

Welcome back to the 78th Annual Academy Awards. This is "Hollywood's Gold Rush." And more and more stars are arriving here on the red carpet. I just saw Dolly Parton looking lovely in pink. She's actually performing tonight. Her song from the hit movie "Transamerica." Also, "Brokeback Mountain" nominee Heath Ledger, his girlfriend Michelle Williams, she looked beautiful, stunning in canary yellow.

And we saw George Clooney from our limo cam looking very dapper as always. And I want to go now to my colleague on the red carpet. And there's George Clooney right there.

A.J., what's going on?

HAMMER: A lot of first-time nominees, as you mentioned, showing up. And we've had a chance to talk to some. There are 14 first-time nominees in the acting category, Brooke. But they are not the only rookies in town tonight. In fact, one guy who is also a rookie, the man with a role of Oscar host.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to be good, you are going to be good because you are funny and smart and you're quick, yes.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW" & OSCAR HOST: Yes, why not? Who's better than me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

HAMMER (voice-over): Is "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart really the right guy to host the Oscars? Will his edgy, irreverent style play with the self-important Hollywood crowd?

BRUCE VILLANCH, OSCAR SHOW WRITER: He's an outsider looking in at the system which is always problematic at a show like that because it's the ultimate insider show. Everybody who's there feels like, hey, I've made it, I'm at the Oscars. And they like the host to reflect that.

HAMMER: In the past when outsiders like David Letterman and Chris Rock brought their own comic sensibilities along, the results were mixed.

DAVID KARGER, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": I have a feeling that Jon Stewart is not going to fall on his face like Letterman did when he hosted. I have a feeling that Jon Stewart will be funny and irreverent, but also pretty respectful. I don't think he's going to tell any jokes like Chris Rock did where he kind of put down Jude Law last year during the Oscars.

HAMMER: But more importantly, what about all the folks watching at home? Will he offend them by being too political? It's a concern Stewart doesn't take seriously.

STEWART: I'm not going to do a monologue. I have written a speech, just about the state of the union, the state of the world that I think is really -- it lays out my legislative agenda for this year. And I think the people are going to really dig it. I have got some alternative energy plans that are going to surprise some people.

HAMMER: So Stewart has to please the star-filled audience at the Kodak Theatre, mine laughs from some very serious Oscar-nominated films, and appeal to an estimated national audience of around 40 million. That's a lot of pressure -- or is it?

STEWART: You never want to do badly, but you also never want to paralyze yourself thinking about doing badly. Show business, you don't get into it for the health plan. You get into it for the opportunities and fun to try different stuff.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: We'll see how he does tonight.

Well, Brooke, they say it's great to be nominated for an Oscar, but if your name is Kevin O'Connell, you would really like to win.

ANDERSON: That's right. And the poor guy owns the record for the most Oscar nominations without a win. And it's quite a streak.

VARGAS: That's right. Well, tonight, Kevin is hoping his luck will change.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS (voice-over): This is the speech sound mixer Kevin O'Connell has wanted to give for over two decades.

O'CONNELL: In this drawer I have the last 25 years worth of acceptance speeches from -- dating all the way back to "Terms of Endearment." These were written -- some on a napkin, some on scrap pieces of paper.

VARGAS: With 17 nominations, and so far, no wins, O'Connell has been called "Oscar's Susan Lucci."

O'CONNELL: If people want to compare me to Susan Lucci, it is actually an honor. I imagine it would be great to win. But until that day happens, all I can say it's great to be nominated.

VARGAS: This year O'Connell is up for his 18th nomination for his work on "Memoirs of a Geisha." But he's not leaving anything up to chance.

O'CONNELL: I've tried everything on the planet to try to change my luck kind of -- so to speak. I've been -- you know, the shirts, the ties, the cuff links, somebody suggested to me last year I try a lucky underwear. And I didn't, I didn't and I didn't win. And so this year, I will be wearing my lucky underwear. VARGAS (on camera): What's it like to actually attend the ceremony?

O'CONNELL: They say, "and the nominees for best achievement for sound mixing are," and then all of a sudden I just go in this weird vertigo where I sort of hear things and I sort of don't. And then I just wait for "and the winner is," and I listen. And I haven't heard my name.

VARGAS (voice-over): A sympathetic contractor even remodeled O'Connell's home with a special note to showcase his elusive trophy.

O'CONNELL: He has built this niche, and I said, oh golly, that wasn't in the plan, what's that for? And he says, that is for your Oscar when you win it.

VARGAS: If O'Connell does win, he would thank colleagues, his mother who got him started in the business, and he will also offers some encouragement.

O'CONNELL: I actually would tell children to not give up on their dreams, because anything worth having is worth working towards. And if anybody can prove that, I can by going up so many times and not winning but still trying so hard every year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Well, good luck to Kevin and all the Oscar nominees tonight.

ANDERSON: Hopefully it's Kevin's year. OK. Sibila and A.J., it's been fun. But that's all the time we have for "Hollywood's Gold Rush."

VARGAS: Plus we'll be covering all the big Oscar parties tonight. Look for that coverage tomorrow morning on CNN.

HAMMER: And of course, tomorrow night on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern, we'll have a complete Oscar wrap-up on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" with our Oscar afterglow. I'm A.J. Hammer live on the red carpet.

ANDERSON: And I'm Brooke Anderson up on the bridge. Thanks for joining us, everybody.

VARGAS: And I'm Sibila Vargas. So long for now.

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