SharePoint, AJAX, the UpdatePanel, Publishing Sites and BlueBand.master
I ran into this issue recently and it took me a long time to Google the answer. I've reposted with what I think is a title that will be more obvious to someone searching for the problem. Basically, web parts that use the UpdatePanel don't work properly in BlueBand.master (and possibly other standard master pages) because the WebPartManager is outside the form tag. Move the WebPartManager and all will be good.
You can find the original post on Gary Bushey's blog.