- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Academy Awards are a big deal _ even to A-listers. That’s why a parade of stars came through the theater at the Hollywood & Highland Center Saturday to run through their lines and prepare to address their peers in front of a worldwide audience of millions.

MUPPET REHEARSAL: Even celebrities of the felt variety took time to practice their lines. Though Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have been famous for decades, they still rehearsed like the dedicated pros they are.

The two Muppets and their invisible operators delighted the crew of show workers with their playful banter and puppet antics. Film academy president Tom Sherak was so taken with the two that he sat nearby throughout their rehearsal.

“Hey Don, it’s been too long,” Kermit said to the show’s producer-director, Don Mischer.

“I’m going to try to get up there and see you,” Mischer replied over the theater loudspeaker.

“I have no idea how to get down there,” huffed Miss Piggy.

After their rehearsal, the two formally dressed stars were placed on special stands, shrouded in black cloth and carried away.

BACKSTAGE MEETING: Oscar host Billy Crystal, who has declined to speak with reporters and kept his rehearsals closed throughout the week, emerged from his dressing room to observe the proceedings Saturday. Wearing jeans, sneakers and a newsboy cap, the comedian blended in with the rest of the backstage workers_ so much so that he had to re-introduce himself to an admired colleague.

“Hi James, Billy Crystal,” he said to James Earl Jones, who received a Governors Award late last year and will be honored again at Sunday’s ceremony.

As soon as the actor recognized Crystal, he hugged him.

“With that cap on, I thought you were a hoodlum,” Jones said before wishing the comedian well on his ninth Oscar-hosting stint.

“Have fun tonight,” Jones said, “and tomorrow night.”

A BLAST OF “BRIDESMAIDS”: The cast of “Bridesmaids” reunited on the Oscar stage and dosed the theater with a blast of energy.

“Oh my God, I cannot believe I’m there!” Rose Byrne said when she spotted her seat near the front of the theater.

“I see you!” Maya Rudolph said to Kristin Wiig, pointing out her seat-saving placard.

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