LOS ANGELES, FEBRUARY 28 2012 (MALAYA) BY DERRIK J. LANG and SANDY COHEN — Even the hundreds of photographers, TV cameras and webcams around the Hollywood & Highland Center can’t capture every starry moment of Sunday’s 84th annual Academy Awards.

Celebrities reunite on the red carpet, mingle during commercial breaks and experience impromptu star-crossings in the wings – and we’ve got our eyes and ears trained on those moments.

From arrivals to after-parties, here’s a running account of what you didn’t see on TV:

3:22 p.m. — "Is the house open?", a casually dressed Billy Crystal asks a backstage security crew a little more than two hours before the Oscar show is to begin. Wearing jeans, a sweater, sneakers and his Oscar credential, Crystal gazes out at an empty theater as he hits his marks and silently rehearses his monologue. A few minutes later, he’s gone.

3:26 p.m. — Outside the theater, things are beginning to heat up, thanks in no small part to the arrival of perennial Oscar heartthrob George Clooney. The fan bleachers erupt in a chorus of cheers and whoops as Clooney arrives on the red carpet, bobbing his head in time to chants of "George, George, George."

3:27 p.m. — Matthew Lillard of "The Descendants" plays air guitar on the red carpet before taking off his jacket and breaking into a faux strip tease amid a shout from the bleachers of "Shaggy," a tribute to his role in the "Scooby-Doo" movies.

4:01 p.m. — Viola Davis asks the bleacher crowd what it thinks of her new cropped copper ‘do. The crowd responds with an enthusiastic cheer.

4:03 p.m. — Clooney, who a few minutes earlier had promised the bleacher crowd he would return, keeps his word. He walks right up to a throng of fans to shake hands and sign autographs.

4:30 p.m. — Not all the glamour is happening on the Oscar red carpet. An hour before the show, Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, stroll the white carpet at the 20th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards viewing party at West Hollywood Park. Bringing the proper amount of glitter to the affair, John is decked out in an embellished black jacket with his initials spelled out.

4:53 p.m. — Inside the theater, Jessica Chastain has taken her seat - make that her armrest. "The Help" actress squats on the armrest to chat with Christian Bale and others who are dropping by to say hello. The bonhomie is interrupted by an announcement over the theater’s loudspeakers: "Please take your seats. This year’s Academy Awards will begin in 25 minutes."

5:05 p.m. — Gwyneth Paltrow stops on the red carpet to chat in Spanish with Penelope Cruz before the two make their way into the theater.

5:15 p.m. — "How much time do I have?" asks Oscar show producer Brian Grazer, his all-access credential hanging atop his tux. Fifteen minutes to showtime he’s told. "I’m going to see if Bennett Miller is in his seat," he replies and dashes off in search of the "Moneyball" director.

5:21 p.m. — "Hey, thanks for dressing up," a tuxedoed Tom Hanks says as he passes a person wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Turns out the guy is part of the Cirque du Soleil troupe that is performing at the Oscar show.

5:23 p.m. — Sandra Bullock is working the front row, chatting up George Clooney, awkwardly smooching Bradley Cooper and getting smacked on the rear by a jovial Meryl Streep.

5:25 p.m. — The thing must really be ready to start. Billy Crystal has just been escorted to the stage.

5:28 p.m. — And the award for the last celebrity to take his or her seat before showtime goes to ... Actually, it’s a tie this year, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie claiming the honor.

5:34 p.m. — Uh oh. "The Artist" might be coming down with a cold. As the Oscar for cinematography is being presented, "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin not-so-silently blows his nose and coughs a few times before apologizing to everyone around him.

5:44 p.m. — Billy Crystal’s long awaited return as Oscar host doesn’t earn a full standing ovation, but perhaps that’s because Michelle Williams, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie and others are too busy jumping out of their seats to schmooze during the show’s first commercial break. Leading the charge, George Clooney dashes over to hug his pal Brad Pitt and a cameraman.

6:10 p.m. — When Octavia Spencer is announced as winner of the supporting actress Oscar for "The Help" one of the loudest whoops comes from backstage. "Sorry," Sandra Bullock quickly apologizes as workers turn to stare. "I don’t even know what I said," a still stunned Spencer remarks as she walks offstage and into the arms of Bullock.

6:25 p.m.: The Muppets puppeteers have taken up residence in a balcony box overlooking the theater. They’ll soon be joined by their respective counterparts, Miss Piggy and Kermit, to introduce the Cirque du Soleil performances. They have a better seat than their human co-star Jason Segel. He’s situated down below, all the way on the right side of the theater next to a monitor broadcasting the show.

6:28 p.m. — Robert Downey Jr. chews away on his gum and dances along to the music as he waits in the wings to present an award during the Oscar show’s Cirque du Soleil performance. When his cue came he quickly deposited the gum in a napkin and stepped on stage.

6:42 p.m. — Stage manager Dency Nelson has discovered Downey’s discarded gum. "Robert Downey Jr. chewing gum! We could sell it on eBay," Nelson jokes before tossing it in the trash.

6:50 p.m. — Wait a minute, this isn’t a beauty contest. "How do you feel about relinquishing your title?" Robert Downey Jr. asks last year’s supporting actress winner Melissa Leo after Octavia Spencer wins this year’s award. "Oh, I’m not," she says. "’’I thought you had to give them yours," Downey replies." I don’t know how this works."

6:51 p.m. — Are the infamous Oscar hunger pangs already setting in? Meryl Streep just handed Sandra Bullock a piece of gum in the audience. A few minutes later, Melissa McCarthy hands what looks like a piece of candy to her "Bridesmaids" co-star Kristen Wiig.

7:21 p.m. — There’s no need to survive solely on what Oscargoers have in their purses. An army of 1930s-era candy girls has just marched into the crowd to dole out popcorn and candy. Stacy Keibler grabs some of each.

7:26 p.m. — It’s not exactly "At The Movies," but Oscar show producer Brian Grazer has just gotten two thumbs up from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on how the program is going so far. "It’s really, really good," Jolie tells him backstage.

8 p.m. — Composer Ludovic Bource, winner of the Oscar for "The Artist,’ leans over the orchestra pit to give a rousing cheer to his fellow musicians during a commercial break.

8:01 p.m. — James Earl Jones, posing for photos backstage with his Governor’s Award for lifetime achievement, pauses to ask a worker, "Whose name is on this?" ‘’Yours," he is told. "My name is on it," a beaming Jones tells Oprah Winfrey when she shows up to collect her own Governor’s Award.

8:02 p.m. — "Out of respect, we greatly appreciate you holding your applause until the end of the in memorium segment," the Oscar audience is told as the segment honoring those who have died over the past year is about to begin. Most folks comply, though there is a scattering of applause when photos of Jane Russell, Whitney Houston, Steve Jobs, Ben Gazzara and Elizabeth Taylor are displayed.

8:29 p.m. — She has already won two, but Meryl Streep doesn’t seem to be expecting this Oscar for "The Iron Lady." ‘’I can’t believe it," she says as she stops in the wings just offstage after her name is called. "Want to take a minute? Let’s take a minute," says presenter Colin Firth, leading her to a little nook just off camera. "This is just insane," she says.

8:37 p.m. — No stage fright for Uggie. When "The Artist" won the Oscar for best picture the little Jack Russell terrier that had nearly upstaged Oscar winner Jean Dujardin in the movie was right there to share in the glory. "I just said, ‘Uggie’s coming out stage right," stage manager Dency Nelson says with a smile. And Uggie did.

8:40 p.m. — It’s a celebrity traffic jam as Steven Spielberg tries to maneuver around Zach Galifianakis, only to find "The Hangover" star has gotten stuck behind Octavia Spencer, who has stopped to let "The Help" co-star Emma Stone pat her new Oscar on its shiny gold head. Wait, Demian Bichir has found a way around the crowd. He cuts down another aisle and out the door. Can he duplicate that move on the freeway?

8:43 p.m. — The Hollywood & Highland Center is all but empty now save for stragglers Kenneth Branaugh and Wendi McLendon-Covey. The sounds of workers breaking down the stage are about all that’s left behind. – AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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