Leo takes supporting-actress Oscar for `Fighter’

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Melissa Leo won the supporting-actress Academy Award on Sunday for her role as the domineering matriarch of a boxing family in “The Fighter, while “Toy Story 3” claimed the prize for feature animation.

Network censors bleeped Leo for dropping the F-word during her speech. Backstage at the Kodak Theatre, Leo jokingly conceded it was “probably a very inappropriate place to use that particular word.”

“Those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend. There is a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular,” Leo said.

But the Oscars, being a global affair, were telecast elsewhere in the world with Leo’s words uncensored. Viewers who watched the show on Star Movies, a major channel available throughout Asia, heard the F-word loud and clear.

Leo’s win capped an unusual career surge in middle age for the 50-year-old actress, who had moderate success on TV’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” in her 30s but leaped to big-screen stardom in her late 40s, a time when most actresses find good roles hard to come by.

Some in Hollywood had speculated that Leo might have undermined her Oscar chances with self-promoting ads she ran in film trade papers. Such self-hype is considered tacky by some awards voters.

Whether it cost her votes or not, Leo still came out on top for “The Fighter,” also a best-picture nominee.

“I’m just shaking in my boots here,” Leo said. “Yeah, I am kind of speechless.”

Still, Leo’s speech went on for a couple of minutes, contrary to producers’ pleas before the show to keep the talk tight.

Best-picture front-runner “The King’s Speech,” a tale of Britain’s stammering King George VI that led contenders with 12 nominations, won only one of the first four prizes for which it was competing, best original screenplay for writer David Seidler.

The win capped a lifelong dream for Seidler, a boyhood stutterer born in London in 1937, a year after George took the throne. Seidler, who overcame his own stutter at age 16, had long vowed to one day write about the monarch whose fortitude set an example for him in childhood.

Seidler thanked Queen Elizabeth II, daughter of King George, “For not putting me in the Tower of London for using the Melissa Leo F-word.” The film includes two scenes where the king spouts profanity in anger to help force out his syllables.

The Oscar for adapted screenplay went to Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network,” a chronicle of the birth of Facebook based on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires.”

While “The King’s Speech” came in as the best-picture favorite, “The Social Network” was considered a potent prospect for an upset win.

The two films have led a strong and varied field of best-picture contenders since they debuted nearly six months ago. “The Social Network” was the early leader, grabbing key critics’ honors and winning best drama at the Golden Globes. Momentum shifted to “The King’s Speech” as the film dominated on Oscar nominations morning and swept top awards from influential actors, directors and producers guilds.

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