As the Oscars drumbeat gets going in earnest, an affable Hugh Jackman talks about hosting Sunday's Academy Awards, and veteran actor James Cromwell has some advice for Oscar nominee Josh Brolin.
FEEL THE GLOBAL BEAT: The original-song medley _ a departure from the individual performances of years past _ will have a vibrant world-music theme driven by nominee "Slumdog Millionaire," said DJ Ravi Drums, the leader of the Indian drum line for the number.
"It's going to be tremendously exciting. The energy is through the roof and the choreography is awesome," Drums said Friday.
Drums, one of four musicians playing Indian dohl drums, said he's been rehearsing with African, Japanese and Chinese percussionists. The number is a "giant extravaganza" with a full orchestra and choir and choreography by Fatima Robinson, he said.
The song nominees are "O ... Saya" and "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," the rags-to-riches story set in Mumbai, India; and "Down to Earth" from the animated film "WALL-E."
Drums, a first-generation Indian-American, does studio and event work _ he played at the 2008 Super Bowl pregame show with Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson _ and is music director for NBC's series "Howie Do It" with Howie Mandel.
This is a culturally exciting time for people of Indian or South Asian origin, Drums said, citing the work of Indian composer A.R. Rahman, nominated for co-writing the two songs from "Slumdog Millionaire," and other artists including MIA, the rapper with Sri Lankan roots.
Then there's "Slumdog Millionaire," which has 10 bids including a best picture nod and is expected to dominate the Oscar ceremony.
"I'm totally rooting for it," Drums said.
NAKED OSCARS: Oscar host Hugh Jackman plans to reveal more than most at Sunday's awards ceremony.
"I haven't told anyone this, but we are going to do most of it naked and we're going to sing through the whole show," the affable actor joked during an interview backstage at the Kodak Theatre. "In fact, all the acceptance speeches are going to be sung. There will be some interpretive dance behind them, and I really think it will be beautiful and touching."
But don't expect People magazine's "sexiest man alive" to show everything.
"There will be a strategic leaf placed here or there," he said. "We don't want to be distasteful or anything. This is a raw night. This is the Oscars. Raw emotion, that's the quality we're going for."
The 40-year-old entertainer has hosted the Tony Awards three times, but this is his first time in the Oscar spotlight.
"If I hadn't done the Tonys, I think I'd be a lot more nervous than I am," he said.
FATHERLY ADVICE: Veteran actor James Cromwell says he warned Josh Brolin not to be nervous at Sunday's Oscars ceremony.
Brolin, who played Cromwell's on-screen son in "W," is nominated for a supporting actor Oscar for his role in "Milk."
"I know that when you get in that room with all those people, your peers support you like at no other time," said Cromwell, who was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar for his role in 1995's "Babe."
"Everybody is delightful with each other. When they cut to commercial, everybody gets up and talks to each other and reassures each other," he said Thursday on the green carpet at the Global Green USA Pre-Oscar Party.
Cromwell said Brolin doesn't expect to take home the trophy Sunday.
"Josh knows he's not going to win because Heath's going to win," Cromwell said. "We all know that. It's too bad Heath (Ledger) can't be there. We're all depressed about that, but at least Josh can go and enjoy it, and it'll make a big difference in his career."
Other celebrities at the party supporting green schools, held at Avalon Hollywood, included Heather Graham, Kate Bosworth, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Leonardo DiCaprio made a brief appearance before ducking out a back door. Revelers watched performances by an acoustic Gavin Rossdale and rockin' Sheryl Crow.
Associated Press Writers Lynn Elber, Sandy Cohen and Derrik J. Lang, and AP Television reporter Michael Cidoni, contributed to this report.
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