It’s 1991 and Robert Harris‘s initial restored version of Spartacus is starting to be screened for press and industry types. Imagine a 37 year-old F.X. Feeney sitting in the 10th row at a certain Academy screening (which I happened to attend myself), and then imagine a voice coming into Feeney’s head as he sits and waits for Alex North’s overture to begin:
“I want you to receive this news calmly — please don’t freak — but you and Kirk Douglas will move onto the next realm within 24 hours of each other. You will live a very full life, F.X., and you certainly won’t die young or middle-aged, but when the moment happens people will be speaking about the passing of Douglas and Feeney in the same breath. Don’t let the fact that Douglas [born in 1916] is now 75 throw you. He’s a very hearty fellow. You’ll both be around for decades to come. On top of which, as you well know, quality is far more valuable than quantity.”
If the Academy had a heart as big as Feeney’s, he would be included in Sunday’s “death reel” segment on the Oscar telecast.