Oscars: Octavia Spencer Wasn't Warned About Neil Patrick Harris' Gag

Mark Suban/A.M.P.A.S.

And that's just one of the secrets spilled as THR gets the scoop on Hollywood's biggest night.

This story first appeared in the March 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Octavia's Surprise

One person who wasn’t prepped for Neil Patrick Harris’ running gag about Octavia Spencer guarding his briefcase? Octavia Spencer. But she ended up totally committing to the part anyway. At one point during the ceremony, she “stood up and went over to say hey to Emma [Stone], but for some reason, I’m still keeping an eye on the box,” the actress told THR at the Fox afterparty at BOA. Despite the broadcast’s bad reviews on Twitter, Spencer thought it was “the most exciting show in years,” going so far as to describe Harris’ turn as a “throwback to the Carson era.”

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum

Oscar Selfie: The Sequel

Restaurateur Bruce Bozzi shut down The Palm after the Oscars to take a selfie (and throw a very private party) with a few pals. The photo, which Bozzi posted on Instagram on Sunday night, has Harris and husband David Burtka seated at a table with Meryl Streep and husband Don Gummer, Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban, Cate Blanchett and CAA’s Hylda Queally and Kevin Huvane. Some guests at The Palm who didn’t post selfies: Scarlett Johansson, Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos and CAA’s Bryan Lourd. Of course, Bozzi’s wasn’t the only super-exclusive affair of the weekend: There also was Madonna’s Gucci-sponsored soiree at Guy Oseary’s Coldwater Canyon mansion and Common’s Ciroc-sponsored bash at Ysabel in West Hollywood.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban

Next Time, More Seat Fillers

You know what it’s like to actually sit inside the Dolby Theatre during the Oscars? Surprisingly desolate, at least up in the third mezzanine. About a quarter of the ticketed guests vacated their seats during the first commercial break — and didn’t come back. A lot of them decided to observe the show — or, in many cases, ignore it — from the lobby bar. In fact, there was so much activity going on in the lobby, the bartender ran out of champagne after only a couple of commercial breaks. Which meant some guests had to watch the entire ceremony sober.

Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch

Still Alice Producer Forgets Where She Put Her Passport

While Julianne Moore was toasting her best actress wins at the Oscars and Independent Spirit Awards, her Still Alice producer Christine Vachon was frantically searching for her lost plaid backpack containing her passport. The indie vet misplaced it Feb. 20 during a Sunset Tower bash to celebrate the film. She tweeted her 15,000 followers six times to help locate the bag, even including her email address. Luckily for Vachon the backpack was found in producer Ted Hope’s car the morning after the Oscars (about which she later tweeted) but not in time for her return flight to New York. An assistant in her office says they were able to get “other documents” to the producer in order for her to board the cross-country flight. Vachon did not return a request for comment as of press time.

Lady Gaga

Zoe Saldana: The Song Isn't Over for That Biopic of Nina Simone

John Legend named-checked Nina Simone during his Oscar acceptance speech for best song for “Glory,” reminding some viewers that it’s been well over two years since filming wrapped on the not-yet-released Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana. THR caught up with the actress at Alfre Woodard’s intimate Oscars’ Sistahs Soiree, where she dished on new developments for the indie film, which was stalled by a lawsuit when director Cynthia Mort sued for being cut out of the editing process. “Thank God I was not at the epicenter of that,” says Saldana. “Right now, we are with a group of amazing new producers who are getting it where it needs to be. We want nothing more than to premiere it in Cannes this year — fingers crossed.” Also at Woodard’s annual dinner celebrating women of color in Hollywood was Angela Bassett, who spoke to THR about Bobbi Kristina Brown. Bassett made her directorial debut on Lifetime’s Whitney. “It’s absolutely tragic,” she says of Brown, who was discovered unresponsive in a bathtub Jan. 31. “All we can do is pray. It was a lot that that family was under — of their own hands and the opinions of others on their lives. I wish them well.”