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The popular Mr. Clooney, watchful Meryl, a family affair and other Oscar vignettes

LOS ANGELES - The real Leigh Anne Tuohy walked the red carpet at the Oscars ahead of best-actress nominee Sandra Bullock, who portrays her in "The Blind Side."

LOS ANGELES - The real Leigh Anne Tuohy walked the red carpet at the Oscars ahead of best-actress nominee Sandra Bullock, who portrays her in "The Blind Side."

"Go figure, here we are. It's crazy," she said in her sassy Memphis accent. "We're excited."

Tuohy said she still speaks several times a week to Bullock, and they went to dinner last week. Tuohy was accompanied by her husband, Sean, but their adopted son Michael Oher stayed away.

"He had a good taste of this and he said, 'I'm not doing that,"' Tuohy said.

Oher, who was the focus of the movie, plays for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

"He does that and he does it really well, and that's what he wants to stick with," she said.

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It was a family affair on the Oscar red carpet Sunday, with mothers proving a popular date, along with children.

Supporting-actor nominee Jeremy Renner of "The Hurt Locker" brought his mother; Lenny Kravitz of "Precious" came with his actress-daughter Zoe; and "Precious" director Lee Daniels brought his brother's daughter, Clara, 14.

"This counts as two good weeks of her speaking to me when we go home," said Daniels, who raises Clara, "because all the kids are going to be looking at her like, 'You was at the Oscars."'

Clara's scenes from "Precious" were left on the cutting room floor.

"What can I say?" she said, smiling.

After dizzying months of critical praise and awards, Daniels said he would finally collapse on Monday.

"And, hopefully, with some gold next to me," he said.

For a few moments, the Gyllenhaal family had a reunion. Supporting-actress nominee Maggie of "Crazy Heart" and her actor-husband Peter Sarsgaard met up with her brother, Jake, in the crush of celebrities at the Kodak Theatre.

"You just witnessed a Gyllenhaal sandwich," Jake said, smiling.

Presenter Zac Efron worked the carpet alone, his girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens nowhere in sight.

"I'm meeting up with Vanessa afterward," he said.

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Sandra Bullock moved serenely down the red carpet at Sunday's Oscars, smiling and joking with media jammed in behind a hedge.

"It's been a crazy two months and I think we're all just happy to be here. I've been with these people, I feel like, more than I have with my husband," she said, looking over her shoulder at hubby Jesse James, whose black motorcycle boots co-ordinated with his black tux and tie.

The best-actress nominee for "The Blind Side" won a Razzie on Saturday for worst actress in the romantic comedy flop "All About Steve." Bullock was the rare A-list star who attended the awards that spoof the Oscars.

"I got no sleep and that's why I'm tired today, but it's making me relaxed," she said.

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George Clooney knows the kind of career boost that winning an Oscar can bring. It happened to him in 2005, as the supporting actor winner for "Syriana."

He went into Sunday's Academy Awards with a good idea of what wasn't going to happen for him and his nominated "Up in the Air" co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

"It's probably not going to be Vera or Anna, and it's certainly not going to be me," he said on the red carpet before going into the Kodak Theatre. "But what you do know is that a nomination for Vera and Anna changes their career. They will suddenly be first on the list to get jobs and that is a tremendous jump in their careers."

Clooney was accompanied by his girlfriend, Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis. Tucked inside his tuxedo was a little treat to get through the long ceremony - a sterling flask with his monogram, GTC.

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There are many reasons why George Clooney is one of the most popular stars in Hollywood: the crinkles around his eyes when he smiles, his soothing voice and his deep brown eyes.

But he's also one of the most generous celebrities on the Oscars red carpet. He bounded across the red ropes Sunday to the bleachers with a pen in hand, ready to shake hands and sign autographs. The fans leaped out of their seats to get a glimpse of him, pressing toward the carpet that ran into the Kodak Theatre.

After he signed a woman's security badge, she held it up in the air triumphantly and fans cheered for her.

"That was super-duper nice. That's what they all should do," said Pauline An, a stay-at-home mom from Golden, Colo. "I talked to Mary Hart, shook George Clooney's hand and Jason Bateman waved to me. It's a good night."

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Now Ryan Seacrest knows: Meryl Streep is watching.

After noting that Seacrest predicted Sandra Bullock would win the Oscar for best actress, Streep went nose-to-nose Sunday with the E! red carpet host.

"I was watching you earlier," Streep said with mock gravity on her way into the ceremony at the Kodak Theatre.

The actress, who is nominated also for best actress for her performance in "Julia&Julie," chastised Seacrest for "cheerleading a little," but added: "That's all right."

Seacrest, a little stricken, responded: "I knew you were going to come and you were going to crush me."

Then Streep, referring to Bullock, gave in: "I'm in love with her, as is everyone in America. I kind of have been pulling for all the young gals."

Streep's nomination was her 16th. She won for "Kramer vs. Kramer" in 1980 and "Sophie's Choice" in 1983.

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The Oscars were a little bit country this year.

"Crazy Heart," which stars Jeff Bridges as an aging country music star, was the most obvious presence on the red carpet at Sunday's ceremony. Bridges was nominated for best actor, Maggie Gyllenhaal was nominated for best-supporting actress and the song "The Weary Kind" by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett was up for best song.

But Tim McGraw, co-star of the best-picture nominee "The Blind Side" was also in attendance with his wife, Faith Hill. McGraw plays the husband of Sandra Bullock's character in the film.

Miley Cyrus was also at the Kodak Theatre to present an award. She came with her mother, Leticia Cyrus, but not her father, Billy Ray Cyrus.

"Last time I was here, I was with my dad," the young pop star told E!'s Ryan Seacrest. "He kept stepping on my dress, so I'm hoping that doesn't happen again."

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In a throwback to more competitive days, Academy Award presenters rehearsed the line "and the winner is ..." instead of the blander "and the Oscar goes to ..." for Sunday's show.

The last time the language was used officially was for the 60th Academy Awards in 1988, when "The Last Emperor" won for best picture. The following year, show producer Allan Carr changed the wording, although some presenters ignored the new guidelines.

"His goal was to make it not seem as competitive," said Lucia Schultz, the motion picture academy's librarian. Other awards shows also followed suit.

Although academy staff would not confirm the change before Sunday's telecast, presenters have been using the phrasing all week.

At rehearsals on Saturday, Tom Hanks noticed the change and said, "You're breaking the mould here guys."

During his rehearsal, he joked around saying, "The Saturday Oscar goes to ...," and "the winner of the fake Oscar is. ..."

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AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima, Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen and Associated Press Writer Raquel Dillon in Los Angeles, and Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York contributed to this report.

 
 
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