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Ellen DeGeneres Pinch Hits for Kate Hudson

09 January 2009

Why was Kate Hudson late to last night's People's Choice Awards?

Blame her son, Ryder.

But it was all for a good reason. Kate was throwing the little guy a birthday party. He turned 5 yesterday. Which meant Hudson didn't get in her car until about 15 minutes before she was supposed to present the first award way across town at the Shrine Auditorium, says a source.

Hudson's rep tells me that she was actually in NYC yesterday morning doing Bride Wars press and jetted back to the West Coast for Ryder's bash.

So Ellen DeGeneres ended up filling in at the last minute, explaining to the audience that Hudson was stuck in traffic. Later on, Hudson dedicated her Favorite Leading Lady award to—who else?—Ryder.

At least Hudson made it—eventually. Who was a complete no-show last night?

Christina Applegate's Samantha Who? costar Jennifer Esposito never made it to the awards.

A source tells me that Esposito bailed on presenting just a few hours before showtime. "She said she was ill," the source reports. "Producers were pissed."

It's not like it was an easy task getting celebs to appear at the awards to begin with, according to my source. Among the reasons why stars declined invites were family commitments (Kate Beckinsale and Heather Locklear), vacations (Pink, Kristen Stewart and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and, of course, work (Jude Law, Ed Westwick and Miley Cyrus).

Brad Pitt was named Favorite Leading Man and Angelina Jolie nabbed Favorite Female Action Star. They didn't even bother to show up to accept their kudos (Pitt was spotted in town during the day riding his motorcycle). As I first reported earlier this week, Pitt was mulling over a possible pretaped appearance. Obviously, that never happened. Jolie declined the offer, too.

Will Smith couldn't make it for his two wins because he was in Europe promoting Seven Pounds. Yup, no pretape for him either.