Here are a few Hollywood Thoughts on last night's Oscar telecast:
John Stewart wasn't horrible... he just wasn't very good. He seemed nervous and stumbled when the early laughs weren't there for him. You could sense the crowd was pulling for him (especially after the fun taped opening with Billy Crystal, Letterman, Chris Rock and Steve Martin), but gave-up hope at about the five minute mark. To me, the close-ups revealed a lot of celebs thinking they were in for a long and unfunny night. How right they were...
Was it me, or did Stewart start a couple of jokes... and then never pay them off ("A lot of people say this town is out of touch with mainstream America... I don't really have a joke here.")? Where are you Billy Crystal's team of writer's-in-the wings?!? Yes, some of the faux political ads got a chuckle... but I don't want off-the-shelf material for the Oscars. Look, I love Letterman, but that doesn't mean I liked seeing him bring his 'stupid animal tricks' bit to the Academy Awards. Note to hosts: Oscar night is special. Bring new material.
Speaking of no pay-off's: what was up with the CG opening? Was there a point to Brando walking down a street and getting buzzed by a Tie-fighter? On paper, I'm sure it sounded fun... but where was the pay-off? Big start... lousy finish. Suggestion: get the guys who produce Super Bowl's ads to build next year's open.
Since no one has been able to produce a better Oscars than Gil Cates, he continues to get the gig. Listen, I hate ageism just as much as anyone... but I think Gil is getting a bit stodgy in his approach. Last night ranks as one of the bigggest bores in the history of the event. Suggestion: Cates needs to surround himself with a few writers that are more in tune with the current zeitgeist.
Some additional musings:
*Ditch the crappy canned music track under the acceptance speeches. It doesn't keep things moving along... it just makes everything sound annoying. Who thought a "one-cue-fits-all" was a good approach?
*Note to Gil: We can tell at home when you use a sweetening track. Hearing laughter or applause when the wide shots show folks sitting on their hands is, um, a sorta giveaway.
*Second Note to Gil: You don't score points when you play-off the co-Best Picture winner with Conti's orchestra. Aren't you and the director seeing the same shots we see at home? We all saw the second guy walking to the mike... what's an additional :30 seconds of air time to let the winner give a few thanks? Really. Same goes for the screenplay winner you bowled over.
*Who was the idiot that had Jennifer Garner as a presenter in direct-line-of-sight with a seated-in-the-first-row JLo?
*Who sat Heath Ledger in the front row... and then got Naomi Watts to be a downstage presenter?
*Did anyone hear Clooney when he kissed presenter Nicole Kidman? "That'll start some rumors," he said.
*Visit defamer to lip-read Tom Hanks launching an F-bomb at the orchestra (or Stewart?). Guess he didn't like being played onto the stage with the "Forrest Gump" theme. He's "beyond" that. Maybe it was a gag...?
*Lauren Bacall: Drunk? Blind? Victim of a bad teleprompter operator? Or simply confused? Your call. Either way, sad.
*What white guy thought it was a cool idea to bring Queen Latifah onto the stage immediately after the Three 6 Mafia performance? A little too spot-on, dontcha think guys?
*Too many clip packages. I'm not suggesting you bring Debby Allen and her "Fame" dancers back, but why tell us that films are too glorious to be viewed on the small screen, and then show us glorious scenes on... a TV screen???
*How bad was the Tom Hanks as a "long-winded-Oscar-winner" tape package? VERY embarrassing. Amateur hour stuff (including a lame poison dart in the neck gag). Worse than last year's Blake Edwards rocket powered wheelchair stunt. Methinks Gil Cates shouldn't have approval over the 'funny bits.'
*Thank goodness for Reese Witherspoon & Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The two best speeches of the night.
A couple of random thoughts:
OK. We've seen Isaac Mizrahi on the red carpet. Twice (Golden 'Globs,' too). That's more than enough. Anyone catch how many times the guy said, "Wow"? Start counting-- it's a new drinking game. He's so interested in getting his pre-written questions out, he never bothers to listen to what's being said by his interview subject. As he scours his list of questions, all he can muster (like a mantra) is, "Wow. Wow. That's great. Wow." Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. I got the feeling a lot of celebs were glad a row of shrubs kept them a safe distance from a possible groping.
Paparazzi get knocked quite a bit. Deservedly so. But it's a well-known secret that some celebs court the photogs. Certain stars have been known to PERSONALLY CALL the lensers when they're out at a restaurant so the publicity pack can assemble for a shot of an arrival or departure.
Hollywood Thoughts found it interesting that Lindsay Lohan appeared in front of E!'s cameras at a post telecast party and left by saying that she (paraphrased), "...had to go inside to join friends for a drink..." She was spotted by the same crew -- roughly an hour later -- on the same red carpet, STILL CONDUCTING INTERVIEWS. Hmmm. In our opinion, the interview was a little... uh... sloppy. Maybe Lindsay realized she didn't need a(nother?) drink???
Parting Thought: We can't be happier that the Academy Awards are finally over. Never again will we have to look at the big Oscar billboard at the corner intersection of our south-of-the-boulevard home. The ad campaign was a joke, right? It's a gay-themed year, and the wacky gang at the Academy thought they'd try to slip a crotch shot of some fellow 'polishing his Little Oscar' by us... right???
'Til next year.