Barely an hour before showtime, host Chris Rock stood outside his dressing room, laughing hard with Adam Sandler.
“Come on, got to have some fun,” Rock said.
“I’m psyched to be out there with you,” Sandler responded.
Rock had yet to don his tuxedo when his wife arrived, stepping daintily down the hallway in a gown with a long train.
“OK, clean up, wife’s here,” Oscar producer Gil Cates announced to Rock and his posse of writers.
Down the hall, the elevator doors slid open. A white-gloved man carefully steered a double-deck cart carrying gold Oscar statues into the wings of the Kodak Theatre. Two accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers arrived with the set of winners envelopes in briefcases.
Robin Williams turned the smoking area outside the green room into a comedy club. He grabbed Melanie Griffith’s cane (she has a broken foot) and proclaimed it “a peace pipe.” Best actor nominee Leonardo DiCaprio laughed and pulled out a cigarette, lighting up and rocking nervously back and forth.
Just after a tuxedo-clad man finished vacuuming the carpet in the hallway, Jay-Z walked by carrying a glass of champagne. His girlfriend, R&B star Beyonce, was performing several Oscar-nominated songs during the show.
Williams walked away from Griffith, husband Antonio Banderas and DiCaprio to prowl the loading dock that was stacked with lighting and set pieces for the show.
He encountered a group of Teamsters and launched into a routine that had them laughing uproariously.