Earlier today yours truly, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino recorded a final bitch-and-moan about last night’s King’s Speech triumph, and asked whether or not James Franco was actually baked or not and so on. (Contrino, an “experienced” observer, is all but certain he was.) Here’s a stand-alone link. Oscar Poker will not be folding its tent. We’ll continue to record every weekend.
The legendary Jane Russell passed earlier today at age 89. I spoke to her in July ’97 for a People story about the death of Robert Mitchum ; she seemed like a bright, sharp and collected lady. Russell and Mitchum made His Kind of Woman and Macao together. Both were minor noirs, at best, but she and Mitchum had a vibe — they seemed to really amuse and enjoy each other.
So my default image of Jane Russell isn’t the big-boobed hottie-in-the-hayloft in The Outlaw or even her singing and dancing with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but sparring or toying with Mitchum in some monochrome bamboo bar in some glistening, okay-but-not-that-great Josef von Sternberg film about martinis, guns, smuggling, waterfronts, smart patter and guys in panama hats.
Russell was everyone’s idea of a beguiling presence (terrific smile and dark eyes, great rack, above-average singer) but she was never anyone’s idea of a world-class actress. She had a five-year career as the mythical Outlaw girl (from ’41 when the Howard Hughes -produced western was shot, to ’46 when it was finally released). This was followed by roughly eight years as a big-name star in The Paleface (’48), His Kind of Woman (’51), Double Dynamite (’51), Macao (’52), Son of Paleface (’52), Montana Belle (’52), Road to Bali (’52), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (’53) and Underwater! (’55).
Russell had another 13 or 14 years of gainful employment from the mid ’50 to late ’60s — a gentle downswirl phase.
It doesn’t seem like the Crimson Tide junket, held at the Marina del Rey Ritz Carlton, happened nearly 16 years ago. But it did. Sometimes you’ll turn around and realize something that happened not that long ago happened a good while ago. A kid born in ’95 could be six-foot-four and driving a Harley and writing screenplays and making big money as a model.
This Quentin Tarantino/Roger Avary riff about the gay subtext in Top Gun (from Sleep With Me, a 1994 relationship film) reminded me of a goof idea I threw at Crimson Tide producers Jerry Bruckheimer and the late Don Simpson during an interview. I told them, “Guys, you’re missing out on a whole marketing angle here. You need to do an Advocate cover story and talk about the gay metaphors in all your films, starting with the submarine in Crimson Tide.”
Sharply increased Oscar traffic last night caused Hollywood Elsewhere to slow to a crawl and then crash this morning. It was my fault, of course, and I’m apologizing up and down. The staffers at the recently merged Softlayer/Orbit-The Planet, HE’s Texas-based server, failed to cope with the situation to my satisfaction. All they did was speak Martian Klaatu. And when the site crashed early this morning, they did nothing until I called up and hammered and brought hell. They could have simply re-booted the server but it took them forever to do this, and even now it’s loading too slowly.
Finally a senior level person came on the line and, for the first and only time since the troubles began last night, offered a solution, which was to double the memory . Which I immediately agreed to pay for.
But in the meantime please, please avoid doing business with these guys — I’m warning the world. They’re Texas nerds, they operate at a snail’s pace, and their refusal to speak simply and plainly, in the manner of, say, Andy Griffith or Clem Kadiddlehopper jest a sittin’ on the front porch and talkin’ about how to fix these goldurned dadblasted server issues, prolongs the conversation time and again because I always have to stop them in the middle of one of their Martian Obscura sentences and say, “I’m sorry, but could you re-phrase what you just said in plain, front-porch, tattered-overalls English?”
I am going to sever my relationship with these bozos at the first opportunity. Klaatu Barada Seeyalater.
8:37 pm: And the Best Picture Oscar goes to The King’s Speech. And that’s all she wrote. Excuse me while I go outside and stare at traffic with a nauseated look on my face. A Best Picture decision has been made without a single major critics group having concurred. And yet The King’s Speech did win four Oscars; ditto Inception. The Social Network won three, and Alice in Wonderland and The Fighter took two each.
I regret that my presence in this overlit Starbucks kept me from seeing the Best Picture montage, which everyone apparently loved.
Twitter pronouncement from Roger Ebert: “The worst Oscarcast I’ve seen, and I go back awhile. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water.”
8:26 pm: Colin Firth, as expected, has won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The King’s Speech. I am sitting here in a puddle of despair…a state of complete resignation, despondency and depression. I feel like Ishmael in Moby Dick, “like knocking someone’s hat off.”
8:16 pm: I wouldn’t have minded at all if Annette Bening had won for Best Actress. Natalie Portman has won everything, and it would have been a nice surprise. But she deserved it so good for her and the gang. It’s nice that she thanked Luc Besson for putting her in The Professional at age 11, and her tribute to Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky: “Fearless leader…visionary”
8:03 pm: Oh. My. God. A gasp in press room as Tom Hooper wins the Oscar for Best Director…? Sputter, spittle, splat, choke. HE is speechless, gasping…appalled.
7:53 pm: Four more awards to go. Is Best Director next? No…the “In Memoriam” roll call. If i was watching it (and not sitting here at a nearly-empty Starbucks) I might have a chance to be “deeply offended” by this or that deceased person being left out. Update: I was right — they left off Corey Haim because he died too young, and due to suspicious circumstances, and too many years after his ’80s career peak.
7:48 pm: It’s kinda cool not watching the Oscars and just staying with Twitter to keep up with what’s happening. Randy Newman‘s Toy Story 3 song wins for Best Song…terrific. Been on the show many times, he says, “and I slow it down every time.”
7:35 pm: Okay, I’m back — HE’s ISP made an adjustment for increased traffic — but no promises. There’s no TV at my Melrose Starbucks, but The Social Network, I’m reading, has taken Best Film Editing. That’s three Oscars for TSN and one so far (i.e., Seidler) for The King’s Speech. Best tweet of the last five minutes: “If by some miracle TSN wins Best Picture, we get to say “it didn’t come back for its 30%….it came back FOR EVERYTHING.” — Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone.
7:15 pm: I’m sitting at a Starbucks on Melrose, complaining to a tech support guy who works for my ISP. I can’t refresh pages to save my life, so I quit. I give up. I’m off-duty until further notice. The internet is a rich and bountiful place. There are hundreds of places to check up on the Oscars, but Hollywood Elsewhere just isn’t one of them. Not any more. It’s not that big a deal. Tomorrow is another day.
The winners so far, courtesy of the guys at Movieline, who don’t have server issues:
Best Feature Documentary: Inside Job, director: Charles Ferguson.
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara, Alice in Wonderland.
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, Inception.
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter.
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing.
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, The King’s Speech.
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter.
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network.
Best Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, Ed Novick, Inception.
Best Sound Editing: Richard King, Inception.
Best Makeup: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman.
Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland.
Best Documentary Short Subject: Strangers No More.
6:33 pm: Christian Bale, winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar….I’m barely able to think, much less write, due to the appallingly slow wifi and the inability to save and reload in less than three or four minutes per refresh. I almost don’t care any more. I’m just fuming.
6:16 pm: Aaron Sorkin, naturally, has won the best Adapted Screenplay award, and — I loved this — fearlessly continued to speak and finish despite the orchestra playing cue music. And David Seidler….sorry, fucking internet has been awful…has won for Best Adapted Screenplay for The King’s Speech.
6:07 pm: Everybody knew Toy Story 3 had it in the bag, so I don’t know what there is to say. Be gracious! Congrats to Lee Unkrich, Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, etc. Why didn’t The Effin’ Gruffalo win for Best Animated Short?
5:51 pm: I’m sorry to say this, but I wonder if having the great Kirk Douglas, somewhat understandable in his condition, introduce the Best Supporting Actress nominees. But I love the way Douglas is delaying the announcement. Expert acting! And the Oscar goes to Melissa Leo! “Oh, wow….really, really, really and truly wow…but I’m just shaking in my boots here.” She let go with “fucking” and got bleeped? (Seven second delay.)
5:39 pm: Tom Hanks giving the Oscars for Art Direction and Cinematography? They’re trying to cut down on air time? The Art Direction goes to Alice in Wonderland? Upset, upset…big upset. Did Scott Feinberg call this? Anyone? Should have been Inception! And True Grit‘s Roger Deakins loses the Best Cinematography Oscar? “Wally Pfister is my favorite porno actor.” — Andrew Goldstein, Witstream. OscarsThis is going to be a very strange night.
5:39 pm: James Franco and Anne Hathaway‘s patter is good-natured, slack, on the lame-chirpy side. Talking to mom and grandma was ill-advised.
5:33 pm: I remember the first time Billy Crystal did this.” (Inserting an Oscar host inside scenes of nominated films.) “It was really funny. It was also 1997.” — Steve Pond.
I’d be extremely delighted to comment on everything that everyone else is commenting on, but I can’t, you see. I just can’t. Okay, won’t. This is a very bad start, I realize. I’ll work my way past it. A few minutes more of agonizing chit-chat and it’ll finally be on. I know that if I was a nominee and some empty-vessel E!-head asked me if I’m nervous, I’d say, “Gee, I’d like to say but I can’t.” And he/she would ask, “You mean you might be a little bit nervous…?” And I’d say, “Naahh?” Excuse me? “Naaahh.”
All the women in red are cool (Anne Hathaway, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Judson) but I’ve been watching red-carpet activity for an hour now, and I’m feeling more and more sickly. Steve Huff: “If you really want to feel your soul slowly draining from your ears, just sit and blankly watch all Oscars pre-shows.” This may sound like a form of heresy, but I’d rather watch coverage of the Libyan rebellion.
What did somebody say an hour ago? “There are Civil War re-enactments that are less predictable than the outcome of tonight’s Oscar awards.”
N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported this morning that she recently “made the mistake of taking my eyes off the [high-speed] road for more than 1.5 seconds, which is the danger zone, according to technology experts at Ford headquarters.” It is routine, of course, for actors at the wheel in movies to take their eyes off the road for three, four or even five seconds so they can convey meaningful eye contact with their front-seat passenger, especially if they’re romantically involved with same. Nothing infuriates me more. Directors who allow or encourage actors to ignore the road for such periods need to be put into wooden stockades.
“The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against this or that resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny,” journalist John Pilger wrote this morning. “A tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day.
“The people’s triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism.
“How did such extremism take hold in the liberal West? ‘It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed,” observed Noam Chomsky a generation ago, “[and] to replace these dangerous feelings with self-centered egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that [an order of] inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is under way to convince people – particularly young people – that this not only is what they should feel but that it’s what they do feel.”
“Like the European revolutions of 1848 and the uprising against Stalinism in 1989, the Arab revolt has rejected fear. An insurrection of suppressed ideas, hope and solidarity has begun. In the United States, where 45 per cent of young African-Americans have no jobs and the top hedge fund managers are paid, on average, a billion dollars a year, mass protests against cuts in services and jobs have spread to heartland states like Wisconsin. In Britain, the fastest-growing modern protest movement, UK Uncut, is about to take direct action against tax avoiders and rapacious banks.
“Something has changed that cannot be unchanged. The enemy has a name now.”
I need to post something more than the usual ass confetti during this evening’s Oscarcast liveblog. A journalist friend says, “I don’t really care about what Sasha and Poland and Pete Hammond have to say…I’d rather hear something funny and searing.” So (a) I’ll trying to be my usual searing self but (b) will also aggregate the best comedian twitters — Sarah Silverman, Steve Martin, Bill McCuddy, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Patton Oswalt, etc. Along with samplings from witstream.com.