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Oscar night mysteries explored

The Academy Awards are over: The statuettes have been handed out, the red carpet's been rolled up, the sparkling gowns returned.

So it would seem there's no more suspense surrounding the Oscars ... and yet, there are still some moments lingering from Sunday's telecast that have viewers confused.

There was the point, now dubbed the "Kanye West" moment, when infighting among filmmakers was apparent during an acceptance speech. Then there was Sean Penn, mumbling something about Oscar night omissions. Consider the unexplained sign held up by one of "The Cove" documentary stars just as the camera hurriedly cut away. How about Tom Hanks' rush to name the best picture?

And why was George Clooney looking so surly?

"He and Alec (Baldwin) and Steve (Martin) were making pre-arranged grimacing faces at each other. All planned," just to be funny, Clooney's representative, Stan Rosenfield, assured in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers behind "Music by Prudence," the best documentary short winner, declined to elaborate on exactly what was happening on stage as co-producer Elinor Burkett seemed to steal the mike away from director-producer Roger Ross Williams during their acceptance speech.

On Sunday, Burkett told Salon.com that she and Williams had recently settled a lawsuit over the film and had not decided who would accept the award. She told the Web site that when she went up to accept the Oscar, Williams' mother blocked her with a cane. On Monday, Burkett was unavailable for comment.

Williams, making an appearance on Monday's "Larry King Live," declined to discuss the issue further.

Another unusual moment during the show occurred when environmental activist Ric O'Barry held up a sign on stage while someone was accepting the feature documentary award for "The Cove," a film about the dolphin harvest in Japan. Viewers hardly had a chance to read the sign before the camera panned away, leading many to wonder what its message was.

"It was a number to text where people can go to take action for the dolphins," O'Barry said. "It's not a protest sign, and I didn't mean to be disruptive, but there were a billion people watching. As soon as I held it up, they started playing the exit music."

Later on in the show, Sean Penn, the lead actor winner last year for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in "Milk," took the stage to present the award for lead actress and delivered one of the telecast's most perplexing moments.

"I never became an official member of the academy, but the academy and I do have in common that we neglected to acknowledge the same actress in our own ways two years running," he said, clearly not reading from the teleprompter. "So, I'm going to start fresh with the academy and acknowledge these wonderful actresses," he said and then read the nominees' names.

So what actress was he referring to? That would be his estranged wife, surmises his publicist. "It would be a reasonable assumption to say he was referring to Robin Wright, because he didn't thank her last year in his acceptance speech," e-mailed Penn's representative Mara Buxbaum, and he was likely making a statement that "the academy failed to nominate her this year for 'The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.' "

As for Hanks' rush to announce the best picture winner, an explanation came via tweet from Hanks himself Monday morning: "OscarShow Flash — Nope, I didn't hurry the Best Pic bit," he tweeted. "That's how it was planned and rehearsed from the get go."

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