Oscars: Burning Questions Answered

March 27, 2001 -- Even though the "who will win" Oscar suspense is over for another year, we were still left with a lingering sense of mystery after Sunday's ceremony.

Who knew Tom Cruise was going to be a presenter? Who was Russell Crowe's mystery date? Who won the TV by giving the shortest speech? And just how long did Julia Roberts' acceptance speech last, anyway? We unearthed the answers to these Oscar-night head-scratchers, so read on.

Tom's Stealth Mission Tom Cruise, who's kept a low profile since filing for divorce from wife Nicole Kidman, made his first public appearance to present the award for Best Director, but few knew he was even going to be there.

His appearance at the ceremony was kept so hush-hush that even members of the production staff didn't know he was showing up, Variety's Army Archerd reports, since the actor's name wasn't in the program and he didn't attend rehearsals.

One person who did know of his scheduled stop was Penélope Cruz, who told Entertainment Tonight, "You'll see him yourself later," when asked about her Vanilla Sky co-star.

Cruise, sporting a new haircut for his film Minority Report, wasn't dressed for the occasion, wearing just a blue suit with no tie. Archerd reports that Cruise, who skipped the red carpet, ducked out immediately afterwards, thereby avoiding the press coming and going. Russell's Mystery Date The blond woman with Russell Crowe, who trailed the Best Actor-to-be at a discreet distance on the red carpet and gave him a smooch when he won his award, turned out to be an old girlfriend of his. Her name is Danielle Spencer, and, according to the Crowe-endorsed fan site Maximumcrowe.com, they dated for four years. Crowe starred with Spencer in The Crossing (coincidentally, the film's about a love triangle, and Spencer's character's name is Meg).

Julia Breaks the Rules As for the length of Julia Roberts' exuberant, defy-the-orchestra, Cuba Gooding Jr.-like speech, ET told the somewhat-abashed Best Actress winner that it clocked in at three minutes, 47 seconds.

Keeping It Short The Academy's suggested speech length this year was 45 seconds. Not only did Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit make it in under that time length, but his speech lasted a mere 18 seconds. He should know about keeping it short: He won in the Best Short Film — Animated category.