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The Road To Gold

Aired February 24, 2013 - 17:30   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Good evening, live from the red carpet at the Oscars, welcome to Hollywood's biggest night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Tonight, the stars. The speeches.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The surprises.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Oscar goes to -- Jean du Desjardin, (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): And every glamorous red carpet moment, this is everything you'll be talking about.


ALAN ARKIN, ACTOR: If I'm doing a fake movie, it's going to be a fake hit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): And it all starts now, Hollywood's biggest night, THE ROAD TO GOLD. Here's your host, Piers Morgan.


MORGAN: Yes, it's Oscar night in Hollywood, the stars are here, the world is watching, and I'm in -- right in the thick of it, really. I'm on the red carpet, as the biggest names in show business walk their way to what will be the 85th annual Academy Awards or, as we can call it this year, the Oscars.

And what a night it will be; we're covering it all, the styles, the surprises, the moments that everyone will be talking about is all happening right here, right now, with our special Oscar preshow.

I have an all-star team joining me for this spectacular night at the Roosevelt Hotel overlooking Hollywood Boulevard is Nischelle Turner, correspondent for HNL's "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." Above the bridge, above the red carpet is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" host A.J. Hammer and CNN national correspondent, Alina Cho, with a look at all the fashions.

MORGAN: And the tension is building here.

Wolfgang Puck is here.



MORGAN: We are live on CNN right now.

PUCK: My favorite station.

MORGAN: You are preparing the mother of all meals for the Governor Ball tonight. Tell me about what --


PUCK: Well, that's going to be an amazing meal. That's -- if you want to eat 10 courses, you can have 10 courses, from baked potatoes with caviar to tortellinis with black truffles and chestnuts to Kobe steak, even chicken pot pie for Daniel Day-Lewis. I think he is going to feel at home.

And then we going to have the chinois (ph) lobster; we're going to have sushi, I mean, so many different things, it's unbelievable.

And I chilled already 100 bottles of Dom Perignon. So everybody who wins or here is for the winner going to get Dom Perignon.

MORGAN: All right. Who drink more, the ones who lose or the ones who win?

PUCK: I think the ones who lose probably going to drink more even.


MORGAN: You have done 19 of these, I think. Has some nightmare ever happened where you just ran out of power?

PUCK: Well, you know, the first year we did it here, it was called the Kodak Theater of the -- in the old time, before they went down. And it -- I think it was like 10 o'clock at night; we were just serving the main course, power went out, gas went out. And I had still to cook for like for 1,000 people. And I pulled out, like, propane gas and Sternos and everything and thank God, 15 minutes later, the engineer finally made it up to the fifth floor and turned the power back on. But it was the longest 15 minutes I ever had.

MORGAN: Now I love these; these are the chocolate Oscars, this is the nearest thing I'm ever going to get to having one of these in my hands.

PUCK: The good thing is with them, if you get hungry one night at home, you eat them.

MORGAN: Can you present me with one of these? PUCK: OK, one.

MORGAN: And come one some suitable thing that I could win.

PUCK: All right. This Oscar goes to my favorite host on CNN.

MORGAN: Am I -- am I your favorite host?

PUCK: You are -- you are my favorite host.

MORGAN: Because Wolf Blitzer is probably watching this. That is -- there is no loyalty amongst wolves, Wolfgang.

PUCK: And you will have to get an Oscar for sure. And I think that we're going to sign you up for another 10 years. So don't worry.


MORGAN: Do you get starstruck? I mean, I get starstruck. If I saw Jack Nicholson -- and I know he is here today -- walking down here, I would be excited.

Do you get that little tingle when you see people?

PUCK: Absolutely. I think when you see big stars like Nicholson, like Streisand or George Clooney or Brad Pitt or whoever, or Clint Eastwood, who I really love, too, because I remember him from the old spaghetti westerns and so on. So I think it's amazing the history we have with some of the stars. And I see them at the restaurant, too, but here, it's a special moment, because there are so many here all at once.

MORGAN: It is the biggest night of this kind in the world. There's nothing like the Oscars.

PUCK: There's nothing like it. I don't think there is anywhere a party like that where you can have every table like afterwards, there is a big star and big producer, director, so it's really a lot of fun.

And the good thing is they are all hungry because most of them didn't eat for a month, especially the women. They want to be skinny and fit into their dresses, but like today, they have to go to makeup, their hairdresser and their nails and then they have no time to eat.

But come 9 o'clock at night, they will be all with me and eating.

MORGAN: How long does it take to prepare this incredible meal you put on?

PUCK: Well, we started about a week ago, smoking the summers (ph) and everything. All together, over 20,000 hours of preparation in between my team. And I have 350 people in the kitchen and over 600 in the dining room. So, it's a big effort, a great team.

And the good thing is from Matt to Sherry, even my son, Byron, they all worked it for so many years, so it makes it a little easier for me.

MORGAN: You've got to move quickly, because guests like to come, they like to eat at the Governor Ball and then go on to the "Vanity Fair" party and other things.

PUCK: Exactly. So but now they hang out more and more because our party's not a formal sit-down dinner. It's more like a party and they're going to have Michael Feinstein singing. And so I think it's going to be --


MORGAN: -- on the Oscar winners tonight, Wolfgang. You have seen so many of these.

PUCK: Well, I'm sure Daniel Day-Lewis going to win for "Lincoln," and Steven Spielberg. And I think I will go probably for Best Movie, and Michael Haneke, the Austrian, for best foreign film. And (inaudible) maybe and a few other ones. I don't know, Jennifer maybe might win some and --


MORGAN: (Inaudible) there will be a few surprises.

PUCK: A few surprises, I hope so. I think they're going to have great music. I hear there's going to be a tribute to the 50th anniversary of James Bond, with some of the music. I --

MORGAN: Shirley Bassey singing live could be amazing.

PUCK: I know.

MORGAN: Wolfgang, I know you got to dash, because you got go and prepare the food.

PUCK: I have to go and cook.

MORGAN: Great to see you. Good luck to you all.

PUCK: See you later.

MORGAN: Amazing gastronomy there from the great Wolfgang Puck, arguably the most famous and finest chef in the world.

But we're going to go to A.J. Hammer now.

A.J., you are up there on the bridge there, peering down on us. What is the view like from up there?

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST: Well, it's a very beautiful vantage point we have here. And I'm just happy -- there was this rumor going around, Piers, that Wolfgang was actually going to pour some fudge sauce on you as the big stunt on the red carpet this year, so I'm happy to see that he clearly behaved himself. But as the stars begin to make their way down the red carpet, people at home, maybe they're still deciding if they are going to watch the show.

In the past, maybe you felt it's always been the same old thing, but this year's Oscar show promises to have a decidedly new feel to it. We have very new producers this year. They are guaranteeing big surprises throughout the night.

You have a new host; Seth McFarlane's never done it before. You know he's going to put his stamp on this show.

And you also will have some once-in-a-lifetime performances, which we will be talking about in just a little bit. But when it comes to the frontrunners for the big awards, the familiarity of art imitating life, actually could be the key to Oscar gold tonight.


HAMMER (voice-over): It's true life drama, Hollywood style.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment.

PETE HAMMOND, DEADLINE.COM: The historical movies, you get the big sets; you get the costumes. You get the so-called truth factor and that's always appealing to the Academy.

HAMMER (voice-over):'s Pete Hammond says Best Picture nominees and Oscar favorites "Lincoln," "Argo," "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty" and even "Django Unchained" win votes by telling stories based on real events.

HAMMOND: A lot of best pictures have been these kind of historical things or period pieces, "The King's Speech" recently was a Best Picture winner. We've seen "Lawrence of Arabia." We've seen all these great history-making movies that were also about history.

HAMMER (voice-over): And actors know their history. In Hollywood, a real-life role is a path to Oscar gold.

HAMMOND: This year, of course, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln is, by far, a frontrunner for Best Actor, for a reason like that.

Playing these real-life people you can sort of compare them to the real one and it really enhances their performance in the voters' mind.


HAMMOND: And Piers, if Daniel Day-Lewis does win the Oscar for "Lincoln," as he is expected to do tonight, he will be the first actor to ever win three times in the category, firmly cementing his place in history; be pretty cool for him. MORGAN: Yes. It will be pretty amazing. And he deserves it. He's a remarkable actor because he only makes about a movie every three or four years. But every one seems to win him an Oscar, a pretty good tactic.

I've been joined now by my first guest, Benh Zeitlin. Now you are the director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild." And the significance of this is how old are you? You look about 20?

BENH ZEITLIN, DIRECTOR: I actually just turned 30. I promise.

MORGAN: Thirty years old; if you win, you will be the youngest- ever director to win an Oscar.

ZEITLIN: Is that true?

MORGAN: Apparently.

ZEITLIN: I don't know about that. I don't know about that. But I mean, it's incredible to be here my first time, you know, it's -- getting to sort of meet people who I grew up watching is an incredible feeling. So...

MORGAN: I think you'll be the youngest director of a feature film, is what they are telling me.

ZEITLIN: OK. Well --

MORGAN: That's pretty extraordinary.

ZEITLIN: I didn't even know that.

MORGAN: You didn't know that?

ZEITLIN: No. Yes But, you know, I didn't know. I mean, some crazy experiences happened to us this year. We were trudging through the swamps with our friends last year, you know, thinking that we would be back making another movie by now, just on our own and now, here we are. So...

MORGAN: How do you feel to be up against, you know, people like Steven Spielberg, people of that magnitude, at this kind of thing?

ZEITLIN: It's an unbelievable honor. You know, I mean, I have so much respect for the work of the other directors in the category and, you know, you know, for me, I mean, it's -- I feel good to be here representing, you know, a very, very independent form of independent film.

You know, and so hopefully we can -- we can sort of bring that flavor to the -- to the -- to the stage tonight and, you know, you know, sort of represent for all the people that are out there --


MORGAN: And where is that little mischievous bag of tricks, Quvenzhane?

ZEITLIN: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know where she is, but I'm sure you'll --

MORGAN: It worries me you've lost control already.


ZEITLIN: She is -- she is -- I lost control -- I never had control. You know, she is a force of nature. You can't really harness her in.

MORGAN: So how much did your movie cost to make?

ZEITLIN: It was about $1.5 million.

MORGAN: $1.5 million? And how much has it taken so far?

ZEITLIN: I think it made about $12 million in the States.

MORGAN: So in terms of return on investment, you must be the hottest director in Hollywood right now.

ZEITLIN: It doesn't quite work like that. You know, it's -- there's still $300-million, $400-million movies out there, but you know, we are certainly -- I mean, just for me, just how many people have seen the film is really a miracle.

MORGAN: And you are a big New Yorker. Who have you brought as your hot date tonight?

ZEITLIN: This is my sister, Eliza.

MORGAN: Hello. How are you?

ELIZA, ZEITLIN'S SISTER: I'm good. How are you?

MORGAN: So you're his hot date. So I have got to ask you, what are you wearing?

ELIZA: A black dress.


ZEITLIN: We have no idea what we are doing here.

MORGAN: Do you know what you're wearing?

ZEITLIN: Not really. No.

MORGAN: Is he -- is he going to win?

ZEITLIN: (Inaudible).

ELIZA: We're not here to win. (Inaudible).

MORGAN: You're not here to win?

ELIZA: (Inaudible) no matter what. We're happy to be here.

MORGAN: Finally, I mean, you must be pretty proud of him, though. I mean, this is a pretty extraordinary achievement.

ZEITLIN: She worked on the film, too.

ELIZA: I built the sets for the film.

MORGAN: So it's all down to you, really?


ZEITLIN: (Inaudible) you know, we make films collaboratively.

ELIZA: It's a family effort.

ZEITLIN: So she is representing the big, big family that's back in Louisiana right now.

MORGAN: Well, there will be a huge upset, don't mind me saying that, if you won. But all the very best, Benh. Nice to meet you.

And good to see you. Best of luck to you.

We're going to Nischelle Turner now.

Nischelle, over to you.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what, Piers, not only is "Beasts of the Southern Wild" the best bang for your buck in terms of investment on what Benh's budget was and what the movie has taken in, it's also the shortest movie that's nominated for Best Picture this year. It runs one hour, 33 minutes. The longest movie, "Django Unchained," two hours and 45 minutes.

Now you were talking to Benh Zeitlin, who was nominated tonight for Best Director. But one of the names that, of course, we all know by now, that was left off the list of Best Director was Ben Affleck.

And I tell you, that morning at the Oscar nominations, there were people that were mouthing the words "No Ben Affleck?" when we did not hear his name. But who would have known that this awards season has actually become kind of his redemption story? It is actually what he has now dubbed his second act. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nominees are --

TURNER (voice-over): It's the snub heard 'round the world, Ben Affleck not nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, despite "Argo" getting a Best Picture nomination.

It hasn't hurt him on the awards circuit. If anything, it's actually helped him. Golden Globes, Directors' Guild, BAFTAs, you name the award, Affleck has won it for directing "Argo."

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: I'm thrilled. I never thought I would get to this place in my career at this point.

TURNER (voice-over): And what a career it's been. Fifteen years ago, Affleck and fellow Boston buddy, Matt Damon, took home the screenwriting Oscar for "Good Will Hunting."

AFFLECK: Thank you, thank you so much.

TURNER (voice-over): Affleck quickly became one of Hollywood's hottest stars. But after early success came a series of disasters, both professional -- the megaflop "Gigli."


TURNER (voice-over): And the personal, like his broken engagement to Jennifer Lopez.

AFFLECK: I had some stuff work and some stuff didn't and I ran afoul of the press a little bit, became overexposed, causing me to kind of turn around and question, what do I want to do in this industry?

TURNER (voice-over): What he did was become a director, starting with "Gone, Baby, Gone" in 2007, followed by "The Town," considered one of the best films of 2010.

George Clooney, the Hollywood heavyweight with a golden touch and co-producer on "Argo," knows a talented filmmaker when he sees one.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: He was in actor jail for a couple of years. We have all done it. He directed his way out of this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I do.

TURNER (voice-over): Now with box office success, critical acclaim and every major directing award under his belt, will Affleck's Oscar snub set him and his film up for Oscar success? We will find out tonight.


TURNER: And that could definitely be the story here tonight. Now, usually, when there's a movie that's nominated for Best Picture and the director is not nominated for Best Director, it doesn't usually win. The last time that happened was 23 years ago when "Driving Miss Daisy" won, but the director was not even nominated for that film, either.

There aren't a lot of people actually shedding a lot of tears for "Argo," though, tonight. It has been nominated, Piers, for seven Oscars. And Ben Affleck was nominated as a producer on the film.

So as I send it back to you, I have to let you know, you are actually on the cayenne carpet tonight. That's the color of the carpet; it's more of a burgundy color, not really red. But the Academy folks said that they feel like it translates better on television. So I will toss it back to you, Piers, on the cayenne carpet.

Well, Nischelle, it's got a certain ring to it, the cayenne carpet, doesn't it? But it is actually red. It looks red on television. Anyway, we're going to take a short break. We're going to come back and talk to Alina Cho about all the fashion because as you can see, it's all looking pretty sharp on the carpet tonight.


MORGAN: Welcome back to the program to the 85th Academy Awards, or, as we're allowed to call it this year officially, the Oscars. I've been joined by two very exciting men now. You wouldn't really think that because they're accountants and it's supposed to be very boring, being an accountant.

But these guys, Brad (ph) and Rick (ph) from Price Waterhouse, are clutching two briefcases, leather briefcases, rather normal, nice briefcases.

But inside, gentlemen, you contain the secrets to the Oscars. Every winner's name is in an envelope inside these.

Brad (ph), I mean, these are the most prized, valued briefcases in the world right now.

BRAD (PH): They are right now. Rick (ph) and I have known the winners of the Oscars for tonight since Friday afternoon. We're the only two in the world who know. And we hand the envelopes to the presenters right before they go onstage.

MORGAN: So Rick (ph), if I was to grab your case, burst it open and start reading it out, what would you do to me?

RICK (PH): I would grab you back and grab this case immediately, as well as my friend, who's this -- guarding these cases as well as us for the evening.

MORGAN: Have you ever had, Brad (ph), a big star coming up to you before, when they -- because they know you've got the winners, and they know you know, saying, give me a wink, give me something?

BRAD (PH): Yes, I did have the wife of a nominee approach me once and ask me if I would tell her the winner in advance so she could enjoy the whole evening, knowing whether her husband had won or not, but that didn't work.


MORGAN: So I'm told that Hugh Jackman's father used to work for Price Waterhouse. Is that right?

RICK (PH): He did. He was a partner of ours in Australia years ago.

MORGAN: Has he got the inside track? Have you tipped him the wink?

RICK (PH): We haven't said a word to anybody.

MORGAN: Have you ever made a mistake? I mean, that must be the ultimate thing that keeps you awake at night, right?

BRAD (PH): Yes, we don't. We spend as many hours as it takes to get an accurate vote and we keep it secure, just Rick (ph) and myself. So, no, no mistakes.

MORGAN: And, Rick (ph), you hand these physically to the people that present the awards, right?

RICK (PH): We do. We hand it to them immediately before they walk out onstage individually.

MORGAN: It's quite something, isn't it? Now you guys, Rick (ph) -- no offense, but you're accountants. You're supposed to be the world's most boring job, and here you are right now, the Oscars red carpet with what appears to be the most exciting job in the world.

RICK (PH): And we realize that, absolutely -- especially on Monday morning.

MORGAN: Well, is that -- I mean, Monday morning, the party is over, right, Rick (ph)? It's back to number crunching?

RICK (PH): Yes, "The Life of Walter Mitty" ends immediately after Best Picture.


MORGAN: Are you both pleased with the winners? Could you say that?

BRAD (PH): We don't really have an opinion on it.

MORGAN: Yes, you do.


BRAD (PH): Not that we would disclose.

MORGAN: Rick (ph)? "Argo?"

RICK (PH): No word from me on that, other than to say this is going to be a great show tonight. It is one heck of a show.

MORGAN: Are we in for surprises?

RICK (PH): Every year, surprises. You are in for a surprise --

MORGAN: You heard it there first, CNN viewers. There are shocks in these briefcases. I just don't know what they are yet, but I'll find out. Gentlemen, thank you both very much.


MORGAN: Good to see you. Take care. Secrets of the Oscar briefcases. Now let's go in to Alina Cho. She's up on the bridge.

And, Alina, you're going to be dealing with all the fashion tonight. So where are you ATM with what we can expect tonight?

ALINA CHO, CNN HOST: Well, here's what we're hearing. We are hearing already, Piers, that Sally Field is in the car, on the way to the Oscars, wearing a red silk and chiffon Maison Valentino dress -- that's Valentino couture. I remember it very well; I saw it as it came down the runway.

Also expected, we're looking at Robin Roberts as she's walking down the red carpet, and she looks incredible in that blue halter gown, we should point out. But -- she just came back this week. But just a few things that we want to point out about this.

As you well know, Piers, the Oscars are really the Super Bowl of fashion. This red carpet is the most important in the world. Remember, it comes at the end of a very long award season. There have been more than a dozen awards shows already, and as one stylist, Kate Young (ph), pointed out to me today, she said, listen, these actresses have been getting their hair and makeup done and been in gowns for two straight months. They're exhausted.

So at this point, the whole design process is very focused. It really comes down to just a couple of gowns. You know, I spoke to Octavia Spencer a couple of nights ago, and said she to me, she will likely be in either Tadashi Shoji or perhaps another gown, but that designer works very well for her because, as she says, easy to deal with perfection. Not so easy to deal with imperfection. But remember, this is the most important red carpet.

We're also hearing that Barbra Streisand will be in a custom-made Donna Karan gown and a long-sleeved chiffon capelet that will go to the floor.

Donna Karan herself is here in Los Angeles and she is expected to attend the Oscars. Also here, Vera Wang, Zac Posen, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy -- perhaps a hint at what we may see coming down the red carpet.

Also I want to take a quick peek at what Jennifer Hudson is expected to wear tonight. We are hearing that she will wear a long- sleeved blue lace beaded gown by Roberto Cavalli, and I do believe we have a sketch of it or at least a photo of it that we hope to show you.

But again, Piers, just to keep this all in perspective, this is a process that goes on for months with stylists and lots of handlers. These women have all the choices in the world. It is the most glamorous, the most expensive, the most over the top fashion and jewelry you will see on the planet and you will see it all here tonight, Piers.

MORGAN: I just am literally standing a few feet away from Robin Roberts, the "GMA" host, obviously, who's been off most of the year having very extensive and serious surgery.

She looks absolutely amazing and the crowd were all just chanting her name, Robin, Robin, Robin, a very moving moment I think for her and for everyone to see here. It's pretty spectacular to see her tonight looking so incredibly glamorous on the red carpet. I'm hoping to grab a few words with her in a minute, because start to feel now the excitement building on the red carpet.

You start to get a few stars appearing. And the magnitude of those stars increases over the next hour and a half, building up to the great moment for the bleacher creatures, who are these die-hard Oscar fans sitting up behind me, who wear these T-shirts -- I have no idea what it means. But you can tell who they are. Apparently they're just the most die-hard fans.

They're here for one person. They're here for George Clooney, because he's the one that apparently they all go completely crackers for. So when you hear like an earthquake go off at the Oscars this year, it will be because the bleacher creatures have identified gorgeous George Clooney arriving through that little tunnel over there. But as I say, we'll be hoping to get to Robin Roberts in a moment. She does look incredible. It must be a moving moment for her to be making an appearance tonight at the 85th Academy Awards, because there have been, I'm sure, moments in her life recently when she didn't think she would make it at all. And that's astounding bravery on her part.

I'm going to go back to Alina, if you can hear me, Alina.

CHO: Yes, I can.

MORGAN: But in terms of the pressure on the women in particular, I always thought, because for guys like me, we can just put a cool tux on and everyone thinks they're James Bond.

But for the women, it is a really excruciatingly nerve-wracking time, because they walk out through here and then suddenly the world's media declare a verdict, you know, either they love it or they hate it.

CHO: And remember, everyone is now on Instagram and Vine and Twitter today. So, you're right. These images go out to the world immediately. And it is all about the press. These designers want to dress these actresses because these images go around the world, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Back to you, Piers.