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Insider's guide to the Oscars

A humorous look at what you need to know about those acceptance speeches, red-carpet interviews, and the link between Jean Harlow and Justin Timberlake.

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When a kiss is not a kiss. At least 14,283 kisses are exchanged during a typical Oscar show. Do not assume, however, that the kissers and kissees actually know or even like each other. You can confirm this by using any high-tech video equipment to replay a kiss in slow motion. You'll notice that at no time do lips and cheeks actually meet.

The longer the short. Whether the award is for best short documentary, short cartoon, or just plain short, this is the point in the Oscar show when the entire audience leaves the theater and goes out to change into another dress or tuxedo. Notice how during these endless speeches the camera never cuts to the audience. This is because old cardboard cutouts are installed in every chair. (Last year, unfortunately, an errant camera caught a Jean Harlow figurine next to a Justin Timberlake one.)

Where those laughs come from. Those gales of laughter you hear during the opening monologue and throughout the "casual" presenters' banter don't come from the actual audience. They're piped in from a comedy club in Canton, Ohio.

Trouble clef. For years, people have marveled at the ability of the Academy to find five film songs to nominate. If you listen carefully, however, you will realize there is only one song arranged five different ways, sung by five different singers, and danced to by 4,000 dancers.

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