|The 77th Oscars: Random Thoughts From The Cheap Seats
|by Chris Parry
Another year, another glitzy celebrity-filled event where cinematic art is judged like a Pomeranian at a dog show. Lift that tail, show Star Jones your shaved pooper, drop some advertising for a fashion designer and line up for your gift baskets, people – the Access Hollywood crowd have hit pause on White Chicks lone enough to give a damn who is the most popular actor this year, so yins better put on a good show for Cletus and Maybelline Average, mm-hmm. The Oscars are, supposedly, Hollywood’s premier event of the year, and what better way to celebrate that than to rip the entire event to shreds and be all sorts of sarcastic while we’re at it? So get ready, people, we’re about to put some stank on it.
SAY HI TO THE NEW HOST, NOT NEARLY LIKE THE OLD HOST: Chris Rock gets a taste of tall poppy syndrome: You’d think by now the world would have figured out that the toughest job on the planet is Oscars host. Billy Crystal’s tenure wasn’t always smooth, though time in the job eventually saw him make it his own. Johnny Carson’s first Oscar ceremony wasn’t greeted with a lot of cheer from the Hollywood elite, Whoopi Goldberg barely raised three laughs in all the years she’s been around the event, and let’s not even go near the infamous David Letterman brouhaha (Uma… Oprah… Uma… Oprah…). So this year the job went to Chris Rock, the king of the new guard in stand-up comedy, and a man who, let’s be honest, is funny as heck. Clearly this year’s Oscars were being retooled for a younger audience, and Rock was the central piece of the puzzle designed to update the staid old event.
But before Rock had been allowed to speak a single word from the Oscars stage, he was under attack, mostly from internet muckraker and Republican poodle, Matt Drudge. For those who don’t know of Mr Drudge, he’s the internet-celeb (think the Harry Knowles of the news world) who first broke the Monica Lewinsky story, and who has made his reputation over the years by ‘breaking’ news stories on his website, though, in actuality, he usually only links to other people’s articles or gives word that such an article is on the way. He also has a horrific tendency to get things totally wrong (“John Kerry affair with intern!”), and his long-standing tendency to hold grudges against people for no good reason sees him regularly pilloried as a distasteful gossipmonger. But for all the people Drudge has put crap on over the years, when it comes to Chris Rock, the wannabe journalist has more than a bee in his bonnet - he has the entire beehive stashed in there.
As soon as Rock was announced as host, Drudge began a campaign to discredit the guy and start a whisper campaign that ‘insiders’ wanted him out. Check out this list of ‘front page scoops’ Drudge ran in the week and a half leading up to the ceremony:
· OSCAR HOST CHRIS ROCK: 'Ellen DeGeneres has crabs'
· HOST CHRIS ROCK SHOCK: ONLY GAYS WATCH OSCARS
· Rock: 'What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one'...
· OSCAR HOST CHRIS ROCK SHOCK: ABORTION IN AMERICA IS 'BEAUTIFUL'
· CHRIS ROCK VOWS TO KEEP THE CURSES OUT OF OSCARS...
· Chris Rock Clarifies Oscars' Comment...
· HOST ROCK: 'I DON'T KNOW ANY STRAIGHTS IN SHOWBUISNESS THAT WATCH OSCARS'
· Oscar Producer Dismisses Rock Comments...
· Hollywood Reporter: Rock setting himself up for a chilly reception as host...
· Rock Stirs Controversy...
· READY FOR F-ING OSCARS
· REPORT: ROCK TO GO AFTER BUSH AT OSCARS...
· Group calls for firing over screening of Chris Rock video...
· UPDATE: Rock Roiling Oscars...
· H'WOOD REPORTER: 'Rock still managed to offend'...
· SHALES: 'Rock, Well . . . Didn't'...
· NATIONALLY OSCARS DOWN 6% FROM YEAR AGO; HEARTLAND PULLS FROM BIG CITY AUDIENCE
Drudge’s first anti-Rock headline ran on January 28 of this year, then he laid off for two weeks, and the rest have run from February 14 right through to today, sometimes as many as three of them running at one time. Some of those ‘headlines’ were splashed in huge letters at the top of the page, some of them contained no actual news, but rather discussed how many times Rock had used the F-word in his stand-up routine a few years back, or how ‘unnamed’ insiders wanted Rock sacked. In essence, Drudge drudged up every single headline he could find on the net that cast either the Oscars or Rock in a negative light, and trumpeted them as loudly and largely as he possibly could, to try to further his grudge against the new host. In fact, Drudge even linked to a ‘story’ that was not a story, but rather a Google search page with results for the search “Rock’s stint as Oscars host was strangely lame.”
After the awards night, Rock told the press, in response to the Drudge storm, “The controversy never affected me. It seemed made up.” Indeed.
They say the best revenge is living well, and as far as I’m concerned, Chris Rock had an outstanding Oscars night. He was brutally honest, he pulled no punches, he made me laugh a bunch, he avoided the long-running Vaudeville song’n’dance routines of previous hosts, he brought in a new audience that normally doesn’t watch the Oscars too closely, and he kept things moving along. Did every joke hit the mark? Of course not, but most did, and for that I look forward to Chris Rock being brought back in 2006, even if only so Matt Drudge can have another shit-fit about it, and the senior citizens brigade at the Hollywood Reporter can get their knickers in a twist once more trying to guess if there might be an F-word to be heard.
YOU PUT THREE YEARS INTO YOUR OSCAR-WINNING FILM… You’ve got 30 seconds to thank those that made it possible: You know what really baffles me? If you turn on the TV at any time of the day or night and click three channels in any direction, you’re going to find a show about celebrities. Whether it’s Access Moron-wood or Enter-fluff-ment Tonight, Celebrity Justice or the latest edition of Celebrity Fear Factor, it seems that the networks will go to ridiculous lengths to hear a celebrity talk about the most mundane, useless, meaningless, trivial, moronic things. Jen and Brad are breaking up? Let’s spend half an hour pontificating the greater meaning of this for people who have never known Brad and Jen, are never going to know Brad and Jen, and have a higher chance of being arrested by Brad and Jen’s security guards than they ever do of breathing the same air as them. We spend all year trying to cram every single word a celebrity says into a TV spot… why does everyone suddenly want to shut the celebrities up on the one night we actually give a damn about what they have to say?
ET can go to great lengths to have Nic Cage tell us about his dog Steve, or about how Adam Goldberg once had his hair long, or about how James Cameron’s ex-wife’s housekeepers sister once dated the make-up assistant on White Chicks, but when it comes to the Oscars, suddenly we’re SO pushed for time, so desperate to get to the Barbara Walters interview with Teri Hatcher, so incredibly disgusted by the chance that the biggest celebrity event of the year might push four hours in length, that we can only give the Best Supporting Actor 45 seconds to say his thank you’s? What the hell is that?
This year’s event organizers even went to the humiliating second class citizen option of having the ‘lesser’ categories relegated to grouping on stage together so the winners would have a short trip to the stage, and even worse, giving some awards out IN THE AUDIENCE! Yet still, even after humiliating the technicians (you know, the guys that make the actors performances matter), they STILL didn’t have time to allocate to speeches? Where did the time go? Oh.. right.. Beyonce singing. Hey, got to have the important stuff front and center, huh? I mean, could there be a more important category than BEST SONG? Of course we just have to devote twenty minutes of the event to the singing of each song nominated, we couldn’t just play twenty seconds of each and applaud the winner, could we?
Next year, I hope the nominees and winners take control of the event and unite to say, “No, we will not shut up just because you’re playing us off. We earned this spot on the stage, it’s our damn event, not the viewers at home or the executives clamoring for a chance to get BabaWawa on the screen – we’re sticking around for as long as it takes.”
”WE KNOW YOU HATE US, BUT WE’RE EARNING RESPECT” – Jamie Foxx, Tim Robbins and Halle Berry class up the joint: Let’s be clear, it really irks me that Jamie Foxx has not only given the male performance of the year, but also accepted his many awards with humor and grace. One step up from Martin Lawrence or the lost Wayans brother for much of his career, Foxx has put the good stuff together when it counted and he deserved his nod for Ray. His speech was dignified, his tears real, and his daughter couldn’t have looked prouder. In his stead, Tim Robbins took a Chris Rock ribbing in his stride and then some, presenting an earlier award even while those in the audience were still laughing at him, not with him, never once dropping his smile as he did so. But perhaps the award for most straight up dignified award acceptance went to Halle Berry, who not only let another Rock jibe roll off her like water off a duck’s back at the beginning of the show, but she also showed up at the Razzies a night earlier to accept her award for Worst Actress on Catwoman. Halle Berry has been called a lot of things over the years, many of them by me, and her speech when she won the Oscar a few years back hit new marks in insincerity and self-importance, but a lot of that was forgiven when she turned up at the Razzies, was told “the Academy wants its Oscar back” by the host, and received her Razzie while holding her Oscar.
Everyone deserves a chance to make good. Berry took a good first step on Saturday night.
”WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE EITHER” – Sandler? P. Diddy? Prince?: With what had to be some of the most uncomfortable squirming ever seen on the Oscars stage, eternal waste of cinematic space Adam Sandler, eternal music mogul and name-changer P. Sean Puff Diddy Combs Daddy, and the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince, showed up to present awards. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I manage to somehow win an Oscar one day and I show up only to be handed the thing by Adam fucking Sandler, I’m not stepping up onto that stage. Seriously, I’ll just yell “throw it to me, I’m good here.” I can’t think of a more degrading thing than to share an Oscar stage with Sandler, and though Diddy wasn’t actually awarding anything, I’m sure there were plenty in the audience who were scrambling to get their Kevlar on when he showed up. As for Prince… all I can say is, “Nice wig.”
”HEY, YOU NEVER KNOW… MAYBE THERE WILL BE AN INJURY AND THEY’LL NEED A SUB” – Paul Giamatti comes out to play.: As Keanu Reeves said, “the most important thing in life is showing up, and I’m blown away by your ability to show up.” Oof, gets you right here, doesn’t it? What a wordsmith, and Paul Giamatti’s ability to show up cannot be discounted. Dissed by the Academy for a second straight year in the Best Actor category – a category he has cleaned up in just about every other awards ceremony this year – Giamatti didn’t do what I would have done, and stay home in a rousing display of “fuck you too.” Rather, he turned up, looked good, applauded his colleagues and had a good time doing it. It’s a pity that Alexander Payne never took the time to give his leading man a nod while accepting his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, but humility is something you probably learn pretty quickly when every second entertainment journalist starts their interviews with a reference to how incredible it is that you’ve become successful ‘looking the way you do’. Maybe next year, Pig Vomit. Your time will come, my friend.
WHO WAS THE BROAD IN SIDNEY LUMET’S BALCONY BOX?: I have no idea, nor do I really care but, oy vey! What a rack! It was like two beachballs with a dismembered head glued between them. If it's his assistant, his wife should be nervous. If it's his daughter, I've a feeling daddy didn't pay nearly as much for college as he did for plastic surgery. And if it's his wife... well, no wonder he's so spry at the age of 80!
ONLY NOW DO WE KNOW WHAT A GOOD JOB NIC CAGE DID IN ADAPTION – Charlie Kaufman revealed!: We knew he’d be funny looking and uncomfortable, but exactly how funny looking and uncomfortable we didn’t know until Charlie Kaufman won Best Original Screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. As Kaufman nervously counted down the seconds that he had on the clock to make his speech, it seemed that Nic Cage’s performance as Kaufman in Adaptation was even more on the money than most thought. Personally, I would have liked to hear the guy talk for a few minutes, since he’s such a compelling character, but with a clock eating his thank you seconds, staring straight into his face, nerves eventually got the better of CK as he fled the scene. Which, I guess, is how it should be, when you think about it. Why break with reputation?
JOHNNY DEPP – The coolest kid in school: Is there any doubt that Johnny Depp is one of the most interesting guys in showbiz? Only he could turn up with a look that seemed to have come out of a Wild West saloon in 1874, and still look great doing it. The Pirates of the Caribbean gold teeth were a nice touch, and as far as accessories go, there are few that can look as good as Vanessa Paradis.
BRING OUT YOUR DEAD – The Cavalcade of Stiffs: It’s always the saddest part of any Oscars ceremony to see who fell off the twig this year, and the 2005 edition of “Abe Vigoda is still alive” was no exception. Peter Ustinov, Ronald Reagan, Jerry Orbach… no Hunter S. Thompson, but you can bet if “Colonel” Johnny Depp had received a chance to make a speech, HST would have been front and center.
IF ONE OF YOU DOESN’T SHOOT HER SOON, I WILL – Star Jones is a big fat idiot: What’s the deal here, man? I mean, what has Star Jones ever done that warranted her being famous? At least Paris Hilton has a sex video (or four), not that i'm suggesting Star Jones should do likewise (where would it run, Animal Planet?), but the only things Jones seems to have done in her entire career is appear in shoe commercials, dent the couch on The View, and turn up to say “golly gee gosh” on the red carpet at Oscar time. Kathy Griffin wasn’t much better, sticking to the easy option of gross-out humor to fill her lack of knowledge and probing questions, but Star Jones made Griffin look like Bob Woodward in comparison with the dumbest display of gushy stupidity since.. well, when was John Tesh last a host on ET?
Jones is perhaps the least likable piece of dogshit allowed on TV today, and I say those words very deliberately. A worthless piece of money-flaunting, self-obsessed, Twinkie-filling-filled ass, this crackwhore waiting to happen has spent the last three months lumbering from embarrassing shitstorm to unholy shame frenzy. Check it out: she pulled a one-day ‘sickout’ from The View after her appearance on InStyle Celebrity Weddings was edited to leave out all the plugs she gave for wedding suppliers who no doubt would now like their bills to be paid, since she didn’t deliver on her promise of free national publicity for them. Then she had her assistants RSVP for her and four guests to every big after-Grammy party in LA, only to have all but one call back and say, “Uh, you’re not invited, douchebag.” And of course there was the post-tsunami episode of The View where Jones crowed that she’d “been there a month earlier” on her honeymoon, and “it was only by the grace of God” that she wasn’t killed too. The Daily show’s Jon Stewart aptly described the situation by remaking that 100,000 people died in the tsunami – ‘’exactly how up your own ass do you have to be to think that it’s all about you?” He continued, “it wasn’t by the grace of god that you weren’t killed… it was an oversight.”
The portion of the E! red carpet show where Jones tried in vain to get the attention of Cate Blanchet and Kate Winslet, only to be ignored as they talked amongst themselves, was priceless, but thankfully, that may be the last piece of StarMania we see, as the wedding whore’s E! contract is officially complete, and word on the street is that ratings have dropped a whopping 40% since Blimpy Jones took over from Joan Rivers. Does anyone have the phone number of Brooke Burke’s agent?
MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CARPET - ‘Old Woman’ Rivers says: [to Imelda Staunton] “Did you meet the woman you played in Vera Drake, or is she dead now?" Uh… no, she’s not dead. Not living either. She’s fictional, you under-prepared moron.
ROBIN WILLIAMS CENSORED – The Masking Tape Explained: When Robin Williams came out to present the Best Animated Film Oscar, some people noticed he had his mouth taped closed. Why? Essentially, because the Broadcast Standards executives of the network screening the Oscars thought the one-minute song he’d prepared in defense of Spongebob Squarepants’ sexuality was indecent, and likely to offend Focus On The Family boss James “McCarthyism Rules” Dobson. Williams was told to scrub his song, and instead turned some of it into a spoken comedy bit, but the original words went something like this:
Pinocchio's had his nose done! Sleeping Beauty is popping pills!
The Three Little Pigs ain't kosher! Betty Boop works Beverly Hills!
Fred Flintstone is dyslexic, Jessica Rabbit is really a man,
Olive Oyl is anorexic, and Casper’s in the Ku Klux Klan!
Williams was quoted as saying, “For a while you get mad, then you get over it. They're afraid of saying Olive Oyl is anorexic. It tells you about the state of humor.” It sure does.
OVERALL SCORECARD – B+: For all my bitching, this year’s Oscars went by pretty darn smoothly. Sean Penn showed he has no sense of humor, but nobody cared. A short filmmaker said the phrase “the dogs bollocks”, and nobody hit the bleep button. Something loud crashed in the background, and Jeremy Irons made a joke about how he “hope they missed.” It was fun, not particularly groundbreaking, but a valiant attempt at trying something new. Some mistakes, some triumphs, a lot of good decisions in terms of who won, a strong debut from Chris Rock in the hot seat, and much nachos consumed by me.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1390
originally posted: 03/01/05 12:25:54
last updated: 03/01/05 12:33:15