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Jokes, and selfies with Kobe Bryant, at Oscar nominees lunch

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Film academy president John Bailey has welcomed this year’s Oscar nominees to the annual pre-show luncheon, playfully reminding guests to update their profiles on the industry site IMDb.

Bailey says there are 205 members of the 2018 class of Oscar nominees. Most were in attendance at the private luncheon Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, including triple nominee Jordan Peele, double nominees Greta Gerwig and Mary J. Blige and retiree Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was nominated for a short film “Dear Basketball.”

Bryant spent much of the meal posing for photos with fans, including James Mangold, who is nominated for his screenplay for “Logan.” Common, Allison Janney and Raphael Saadiq were among those who posed for photos with Bryant.

Even some of those who couldn’t attend were there in spirt. The artist JR brought a cardboard cutout of his “Face Places” co-director, Agnes Varda, holding a cat. He brought the cutout onto the red carpet and up onto a stage where it stood next to Gerwig and Meryl Streep as they chatted.

“Faces Places” is nominated in the feature documentary category.

The Oscar nominees’ luncheon is typically a relaxed affair that allows nominees a chance to mingle and congratulate their colleagues and hear from producers about how to deliver memorable acceptance speeches.

The year, producers brought out comedian Patton Oswalt to offer advice. “When you get up there, think Freddie Mercury,” Oswald said, urging winners to look up and project.

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