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Sherri Shepherd on her nixed red-carpet Lautner questions

The View’s Sherri Shepherd was one of the three hosts of ABC’s pre-Oscar show, during which she (and co-hosts Entertainment Weekly’s Jess Cagle and model turned furniture designer Kathy Ireland) interviewed harried celebrities on their way into the ceremony. We spoke to Shepherd this morning about confusing Helen Mirren with J-Lo, trying to remember how to pronounce “Tolstoy,” and hitting on George Clooney.

How did you get the gig?
[Oscar producer] Adam Shankman’s apparently a fan of mine, and he called and asked if I was available to do it. I love the preshows, so I jumped at the chance.

Were the interviews scripted, or more improv?
This show was very mapped out: We had three rehearsals and lot of run-throughs. We knew who I was going to talk to and who Kathy and Jess were going to interview. I was so nervous I was going to call Helen Mirren “J.Lo.” I was right there when people were getting out of their car, so if they knew me, they’d run over to be interviewed, and I’d have to be like, “Sorry, you weren’t scheduled.”

Did anything unexpected happen?
All of a sudden it started pouring, and women were sprinting to the tent, and I’m watching them and their boob spillage, and then I realize: Wait a minute, I’m wearing a wig, I gotta get out of this rain.

Who was your favorite interview?
George Clooney — he wasn’t in a bad mood with me! He came over and I came on to him, flirting with him, and he flirted back. And I love Taylor Lautner, but I couldn’t ask him too many questions. We had a lot of red tape and protocol from ABC, and they told me I couldn’t ask Taylor about the Twilight sequel or his body. And I said, “Then what am I going to talk to him about?!” He’s a big boy, he could handle it.

Kathy Ireland has been getting a lot of flack for her performance …
Listen, I think Kathy Ireland was fine. It’s very hard and nerve-wracking, and I do this for a living. You have to be able to read the TelePrompTer, you have to be quick on your feet. I’m standing next to Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, and I’m about to puke. I’m trying to remember what their movie’s about … Tolstoy — Toy Story, Toy Story I kept thinking to myself. Again, this is my job, and for someone who hasn’t done this, who’s a furniture designer, it’s even more difficult!

People thought she might have been on drugs.
No, she wasn’t, ‘cause if she was she’d be all defensive about it.

You had a cameo during the ceremony.
Yes, when Geoffrey Fletcher won for Best Adapted Screenplay for Precious, they cut to me, which was exciting.

Do you know why they did that?
Sure, ‘cause I’m another black person, but I didn’t care. I wanted them to cut to me for everything. I was sitting near Stanley Tucci, and whenever they cut to him, I was like, “come over here!”

Sherri Shepherd on her nixed red-carpet Lautner questions