(Mar. 3, 6:20PM ET) -- When the stars gather for the Academy Awards, there's often one other thing on their minds besides how they look or what they're going to say on stage. Where can they find a private bathroom?
What millions of people don't see on camera is that many of the celebs at the Oscars dread going into the lobby to use the public restrooms. Instead, the stars take refuge in the office of longtime Oscar telecast director Louis J. Horvitz.
The Emmy Award-winning Horvitz returns this year for another Oscar show, which ABC will broadcast live March 5 from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. In an exclusive interview with TMZ, Horvitz reveals what goes on behind the scenes and what some stars are really like off camera.
The secret room at the Oscars where the stars love to gather is Horvitz's on-location office, which also doubles as a unofficial dressing room during the show.
Horvitz explains, "It leads right to the stage in the main hallway. There's a little bathroom in here too. There are only a few private bathrooms backstage without having to go out in the lobby. Almost all the stars at the Oscars have come through this room at one time. The basic line is, 'Do you mind if I use your bathroom?' Everybody does it: men and women. It's a unisex room."
Horvitz adds with a laugh, "I should've stood out there and presented them with hand towels and gone for tips."
Jack Nicholson is one of the stars who likes to use the private room the most. Horvitz reveals, "On show nights, Jack Nicholson is always asking, 'Where's the director's room?' Jack hangs out to watch the show on the monitors before he goes on stage. He has his feet up on the desk and enjoys himself. It gives me a good feeling because he has a safe harbor there."
Horvitz says that Nicholson is one of the best stars to work with at the Oscars. "He's such a cool guy. He doesn't like to rob the spotlight from anybody." Horvitz also had high praise for many other celebs, such as Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Steven Spielberg, Morgan Freeman, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Will Smith and Nicole Kidman.
Other stars, Horvitz says, are bit more challenging. He says that Barbra Streisand has exact demands on how she wants to be lit and photographed on stage.
As for Julia Roberts, Horvitz says: "Julia is Julia. It's going to be her way or no way at all. She's no-nonsense. I learned through the years that she never wants to do entrances on stairs. One year, somebody said Julia wanted to do a stair entrance. We had a great stair entrance planned for her. Ten minutes into the segment, she's backstage saying, 'I'm not entering on the stairs. Change the entrance.' The reality is that leopards don't change their spots."
Horvitz says that Queen Latifah, an Oscar presenter this year, also has her own difficult ways. "I've been many places with her. You can never pin her down, and it's a nice thing that she's coming to the Oscars this year. Frankly, I wouldn't go out of my way to count on her to do the things I need. Can you get her to show up? It's hard to get her to commit to do many things."
The Oscars have their share of celebrities being unpredictable. But Horvitz says there's one star who's the biggest loose cannon of them all: Robin Williams. "If Robin comes anywhere near where I'm shooting," Horvitz says, "I've got a basic zone to get ready to follow Robin. He's so spontaneous, it's unbelievable. You've got to really work hard to keep up with him."
Horvitz and Oscar show producer Gil Cates decide whether or not to cut off people's acceptance speeches if they run over the allotted speech time of 45 seconds. Horvitz admits that whether or not to cut off a speech is a subjective judgment call, and it depends mainly on how good the speech is. Horvitz names Oscar speeches given by Roberto Benigni and Cuba Gooding Jr. as two of his all-time favorite Oscar moments. Their speeches were allowed to go on longer than usual, Horvitz says, because they were so joyfully spontaneous. The biggest turnoff? Speeches that are long lists.
On a live show like the Oscars, almost anything can happen. But one thing the stars should remember, Horvitz says jokingly: "It's not nice to upset a live television director."
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