Red carpet moments

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some watch to check out who is wearing which designer gown; some watch to see how good (or terrible) the event emcee's jokes are, while others actually do care who gets to take home those little gold-plated guys named &#8220Oscar.”

This Sunday night will mark the 79th Annual Academy Awards, slated to air February 5, 2007 live at 7 p.m. on ABC.

This week, plenty of spray-tanning, exfoliating, waxing, teeth whitening and Botoxing will be taking place in anticipation of Oscar night (the women will be busy getting ready, too). 

After all, those who walk the fabled red carpet will have their faces and physiques photographed no less than 10,000 times by the paparazzi on Oscar night.

Odds makers are taking bets on who will win the coveted trophies. Hopefuls are writing out their speeches.

Everyone is ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille.

In anticipation of Hollywood's glitziest night, let's take a look at the early days of Oscar, some past Oscar winners, and some of those behind-the-scenes people who help create movie magic (just exactly what does a &#8220gaffer” or &#8220best boy” do, anyway?).

So dim those lights, break out the popcorn and roll those credits!

Just who is Oscar?

There are a lot of myths and legends that abound concerning the origin of the statuette's name. Bette Davis supposedly took one look at the trophy's golden backside and quipped, &#8220That looks just like my husband, Oscar.” Others say an Academy Award librarian, on seeing the award for the first time, claimed it looked just like her Uncle Oscar. It's said a journalist overhead her and the nickname stuck. The name was officially used for the first time in 1939.

There was little suspense in the early days of the event. At the first awards in 1929, everyone knew in advance who had won, with the winners' names printed in a late edition of the newspaper. Sealed envelopes were introduced the following year.

In most cases, fans and critics think the original movie is better than its sequels.

Only two sequels have been awarded Best Picture: &#8220The Godfather Part II” (1974) and &#8220Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (2003). The longest film to ever win Best Picture? It was the 1939 classic, &#8220Gone With the Wind,” which ran three hours, 42 minutes.

&#8220Marty,” (1955), is the shortest film to win, clocking in at just 91 minutes.

The shortest title to win Best Picture was 1958's &#8220Gigi” (not to be confused with that 2003 Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck disaster, &#8220Gigli”).

Both &#8220Gigi” (nine awards) and &#8220Return of the King” (11 awards) won every single category in which they were nominated, as did &#8220The Last Emperor”, which took home nine statuettes in 1987.

Two films were each nominated for 11 awards but went home empty-handed: &#8220The Turning Point” (1977) and &#8220The Color Purple” (1985).

What's a Best Boy gonna do?

We've all read film credits and wondered: just what is a &#8220gaffer”? And what does a &#8220key grip” actually do on a movie?

Here is your guide to those misunderstood film jobs:

*Gaffer - chief lighting technician/electrician for a production who is in charge of the electrical department and as such, the supplying, placement and maintenance of lights on the set. Back in the 1500s, a &#8220gaffer” was any man in charge of an organized group of laborers.

*Best Boy - assistant to the gaffer; this term probably goes back to early sailing and whaling days when sailors were often hired to set up and work the rigging on theatrical stages. Female assistants are also called &#8220Best Boys.”

*Foley Artist - The person who creates the sound effects. Named after the man, Jack Foley, who pioneered the field.

*Greensman - Crew member who buys, places and maintains any vegetation on the set. For &#8220Honeydripper,” the film recently made here in Butler County, the set greensman was busy making sure plenty of cotton appeared to be blossoming in the fields.

*Swing Gang - A group that is responsible for constructing and taking down a film set.

*Leadman - Person in charge of the swing gang and the set dressers.

*Dolly Grip - The dolly is a small truck that rolls along tracks and carries the camera. It also carries part of the camera crew and sometimes the director. The dolly grip moves this equipment.

*Key Grip - The chief grip works directly with the gaffer to create shadow effects for set lighting. They also supervise the transporting and setting up of equipment and the pushing of the dolly according to the requirements of the director of photography.

Cringe-worthy Oscar moments

While some Oscar presentations have proved snoozers, you never know when some moment will bring an unexpected chuckle, gasp or an &#8220I can't believe they said/did that?” for viewers.

Here are a few of those eye-rolling Academy Award moments from throughout the years:

*They Call It the Streak - In 1974, at the height of streaking mania, presenter David Niven was interrupted by a naked man racing across the stage. Niven kept his cool and ad-libbed this line: &#8220The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by strippingsŠand showing off his shortcomings.”

*Frank Who? -  In 1934, Oscar host Will Rogers announced the winner for Best Director by yelling, &#8220Come on up and get it, Frank!” An excited Frank Capra (&#8220Lady For a Day”) headed for the podium. Unfortunately for him, it was Frank Lloyd (&#8220Cavalcade”) who actually won. Capra called his return to the table, &#8220The longest, saddest, most shattering walk in my life.”

*Top of the World - Never the most modest of men, director James Cameron declared himself &#8220the king of the world” in his acceptance speech for Best Director of &#8220Titanic,” mimicking Leonardo DiCaprio's line in the film. He then asked everyone to observe a minute of silence for those who lost their lives when the Titanic sank in 1912.

*That's no Indian - Marlon Brando, who won the Best Actor trophy in 1973 for &#8220The Godfather” refused to come and pick it up himself. Instead, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather in buckskin and braids in a protest against Hollywood's treatment of American Indians. Ironically, it turned out &#8220Sasheen” (not her real name) was no Native American, but an actress from California.

*Send Deng Some Love – Richard Gere suggested the audience send &#8220telepathic love” to Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China who was responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet and China, so that he might let the people live in freedom.