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Oscars reach for golden appeal in gloomy recession

Our local ABC station aired pre-Oscar coverage Sunday night, but for a fleeting half an hour. In years past, there was at least one to two hours of red-carpet glory. We regular folk got the chance to see all those pretty movie stars dress up and celebrate the high life.

As host of the 81st Academy Awards Hugh Jackman pointed out from the start, things were going to be different this year because of the recession. Isn't that sweet? The academy and the Hollywood A-list were looking out for us this year by shortening the time for swooning at cinema's elite while we hunker down in our middle to lower class living rooms.

Instead of special effects and stand-up comedy, Jackman opened the ceremony with a dance and song number which included what could only be described as self-made cardboard stage sets. With his Australian charm, he swept actress Anne Hathaway out of her seat to join the opening festivities. Her inclusion in the routine was meant to be unexpected, but she clearly changed dresses before taking her seat, so not to ruin the glittering Armani gown she wore on the red-carpet.

The big winner for the evening was Slumdog Millionare taking home eight gold statuettes including whopper categories such as best picture and best director.

The first category presented was the award for best actress in a supporting role. Five past winners of the award including Whoopi Goldberg and Goldie Hawn stood onstage for several minutes introducing and praising each actress for their dramatic talents. After hearing each nominee's extended introduction, I was wondering if one of them had cured cancer or if we were still at the Oscars.

Finally, Penelope Cruz was named the winner. She gave her mother a big hug and then proceeded to the stage where she asked the audience, "Has anyone ever fainted here? I might be the first one." Cruz dazzled little girls' ambitions everywhere by sharing her childhood dreams. At the end of her speech she gave a Spanish 'thank you' to the people of her home country, by telling them the award was not only for her, but for the people of Spain as well.

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