Sam's Oscar Report

Sun, 23 Mar 2003 - Hollywood

There was a war, for the motto on the
greenback dollar, "Novus Ordo Seclorum."

So it's...



Sam Longoria here, your Oscar reporter.

Man, I have been two picnics, a World's Fair, and a rodeo.
I been from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen
some pretty strange stuff, but the 2003 Oscars take the cake.

It was one part "National Velvet," and one part
"Triumph of The Will," and I'm not really sure
what I mean by that.

Yes, there were some downcast Hollywood eyes this year,
because the Homeland was fightin' a controversial war.

(I am not going to get used to that "homeland" stuff, any more
than I will get used to being asked everywhere to see "my papers."
Is this Hollywood or Nuremberg?  Where is our freedom going?)

For the most part though, just because you cannot keep a big
ego down, and certainly not a townful of big egos, Hollywood is
movin' itself along, keepin' on truckin', pumping, er pumpin'
those burly-budgeted movies, here in 2003.

The Oscars are America's High School Prom, and a Sweepstakes,
a Fire-sale, a Real-Estate Open House, and a Las Vegas show.

The point is to sell the movie biz to the civilians, and it
really, really works.  You can't expect them to make sense,
though.  It's show biz, after all.  If you follow the Oscars,
you just gotta track with 'em, and stay flexible.

This year there was a war.  The biggest news story on the planet
just became the second biggest, and the Oscar folks are miffed.
So they fret and run around, even more than usual.

There was gonna be a red carpet, then there wasn't, then there
was.  There was some trepidation about security, and about the
need for humility during a war, but the Celebrati got past all
that, and ventured out, past the usual Oscar-protesters
lining the Hollywood streets.

The Oscars are always surrounded by protesters, now more so
than most years, but they're far away.  The guys who plan this,
planned it carefully.  There's a three-block radius around the
Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, full of cops.

There is no getting in or out, if you don't belong here.
You'd have to be Houdini to get in here, it's just impossible.

I'm sorry for the protesters, and the other poor souls
who are right here and want to be onscreen, but never catch the
camera lens.  I know just how they feel.  I'm here, and I've
been here for twenty-some years, but so what,
who am I anyway?

I won't tell how I got my ticket, but just a ticket is not
enough tonight.  There is picture ID, and a search, and much
scrutiny and metal detectors, and because Hollywood full
of cops sometimes just isn't enough,
the National Guard.

My pocket comb, that I use for my moustache, almost gets me in
real trouble.  It's plastic, and I have to demonstrate its
use.  Really.  It's only a comb, but it still spooks the
security person.

I'm here to root for my friend Randall William Cook, who's
most responsible for what, in my opinion, is the Best Acting
performance of 2002.  Of course, I mean "Gollum" in "Lord
Of The Rings: The Two Towers."

Randy has done his share of animation the old-fashioned way,
a frame at a time, and now he orchestrates a team of animators
to act in unison, creating what is definitely the best
characterization I've seen this year.

A long time ago, I was quoted in a "Screen Actor" magazine
article.  I didn't feel actors had to worry about computer-
generated characters replacing a human actor, not for a
long, long time.

I said, "It's one thing to make animation move.  It's much
harder to make it move an audience."

Well, the Earth has turned many times, and now they can do
very, very sophisticated computer animation.  It definitely
can move an audience now.

True, "LOTR" had a real actor's movements to start with,
but the computer can't input subtle nuance from facial
movements, yet.

The animators haven't let themselves be
stopped by that.  Through masterful application
of their art, they can create an acting masterpiece,
and such is Gollum.

Poor old Gollum has a wrestling match with evil demons, moving
between love and fear, the same one everybody has.  Gollum's
contest happens right inside his computer-generated skin,
up close on his huge amazing eyes, emotions rippling across his
sad CGI face.  Poor Gollum.

It's a riveting performance.  If you're not sympathetic
to him, er it, hoping Gollum will let himself be good,
you should get your feelings overhauled.

Well, I'm hoping to see Randy, who's also "such" a character.
Randy smoked a meerschaum pipe, back when we worked on "Ghostbusters,"
and he loves Gilbert and Sullivan, and he did an actor's demo tape
that just blew me away, back in 1984.  Randy's a wonderful actor,
and that's what shows in his art.

I got a nice email from Randy today, and I hope our paths cross.
He's probably back in New Zealand as you read this, working on the
third, final "LOTR" chapter.  I don't know if we'll meet tonight.

I'll only get to talk to him if I can get to the press area
(where I expect to be pressed), and that's IF he wins, nothing
is certain here in Oscarville.  That's what makes a horse race.

One year at the Grammys, I expected my Firesign friends to win,
so I went backstage to wait for them.  Bad guess.  I couldn't
catch up to them again, and spent the whole night chasing
around town, from party to party.  It wasn't so bad,
I got to chat with Hugh Hefner, and his identical twin dates.

I'll take whatever chance or opportunity presents
itself, maybe into the Governor's Ball, but no promises,
because if anything goes wrong, I could have a rather
confining evening.

The trick is looking slightly bored, and over the heads of the
cops.  Ignore how heavily armed they are, ignore their searching
looks.  Say the mantra, "you work for me, you work for me, you
work for ME."  Subtle shifts take place in my body language,
when I do that, and that makes them look elsewhere.

I'm in.  There was a long moment with that comb, and my heart
is racing, but now all I have to do is not go back.  No matter
what, no going back.  Only forward.  No fear, just an attitude
of gratitude.

I let a short grateful prayer go up, and the irony strikes me.

To get into the Academy Awards takes a really good performance,
at some point, of some kind.  Why not here?  Why not me?

Some Red Carpet moments:

Jennifer Garner in an incredibly tight blue dress that looked
like a tourniquet.  Much as I'd like to see her without the
dress, I'd give it a few hours after she took it off, before
I'd give her a glance, so the tourniquet marks would go away.
It's sad to see a beautiful girl so squashed.

By contrast - and I've chosen that word carefully - there's
a lady here in a dress so vividly, fluorescently day-glo pink,
I literally cannot recognize her.  I cannot see past her dress,
to her face.  I look away, fearing retinal burns.  I close
my eyes, and feel the color of her dress burning my cheeks.

Everyone is muttering about Roman Polanski, who is up for Best
Director.  Nobody is sure Roman will show up for the Oscars,
as the Awards are 75 years old, and Roman prefers most
everything to be under the age of 13.

Hollywood police have sworn to arrest Roman, for a sexual crime
he committed against a 13-year-old in 1978, even though it was
25 years ago, and the girl is now 38.  Roman pleaded guilty,
jumped bail, and fled to Paris.

Roman is now 69, lives in France, and
I'll let you make up your own joke.

Jack Palance, the old cowboy, the one who can still do one-handed
pushups, and was so damn dangerous years ago in "Shane," (my
second-favorite western) is here with his lovely wife.
He looks stately and distinguished.  I recognize him most
recently from the Antelope Valley phone book, on my many trips
through there out to the desert.  How cool he is,
for such an old desert guy.

Every year I say I won't be back again to the Oscars,
until I'm nominated for something, no more sight-seeing.
Every year I mean it, but when I get the chance to see
movie people up close, I seem to take it. It reminds me
what I'm fighting for, where I want to be.  I only do
this once a year, anyway.

I can stop any time, said the Oscar-holic.

Peter O'Toole (who Groucho Marx said has "a double phallic
name") got his Honorary Oscar, and only was moderately disgruntled
that it was an Honorary one.  Of course he deserves a "real"
Oscar, what a wonderful guy he is onscreen, and I don't really
blame him for his disgruntled-ness.

Nia Vardalos, of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," is so electrified,
she's glowing.  She's grabbed the golden ring this year, with her
one-woman show about her Greek family that's become a hit movie,
and a hit tv show, and will probably eventually be a
hit commemorative stamp.  Good for her.

Speaking of golden rings, "Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers" gets Best Sound Editing, and yes,
Best Visual Effects, bumping "Star Wars: Episode II,"
and "Spider-Man."  Randy and his three compatriots are
lauded, and rightfully so, for their brilliant work.

Heather Graham has arrived, apparently in her black nightie,
cheering me immensely.

Only a few really big movie stars have amazed me to
see them up close.  Paul Newman was one, when I first saw
him, and so was Mickey Rooney, who I see again here tonight.
Both of them are much smaller than you'd think,
and have really big heads.

As someone who has a really big head, I hope that was helpful
in moving them to the top.  David Letterman has a big
head, and he told me once, in a hallway at NBC,
"Big head, big star."

Shirley Jones is another one who surprises me when I see
her, she's so tall!  And this year her hair is white.
She's beautiful.

"Chicago" won Best Editing, and boy did it deserve it.
Loved the tap-dancing, great editing made me believe
Richard Gere could dance, it was magic.

Michael Moore won himself an Oscar with his sorta-documentary
feature, and the "bad winner" award from me, for calling President
Bush names, when he won his Oscar.  I don't disagree with what
he said, or his right to say it, but I didn't care for the movie,
or his bad acceptance manners.

I'm actually rooting for Michael Moore, because it is tiring
that nobody can oppose a war any more without being booed
as unAmerican, but Michael is pretty obnoxious.

That means he's pushy, and that's what's put him here, and
I'm sure he means well, so, oh well.  After Michael is booed
while getting a standing ovation (figure that one out),
Steve Martin makes a lame joke about the Teamsters putting
Michael into the trunk of his limo.  I love Steve Martin,
but it is not a funny moment, it is a creepy moment.

Best Documentary Short goes to "Twin Towers,"
the September 11 movie.  It was shot on videotape, for
tv, and would have been ineligible in years past,
but they've changed Rule Twelve, and the whole documentary
process, so it's eligible, and it won.
What a subject! - and who's gonna tell 'em
they should have used film?

"Chicago" is cleaning up, incidentally.  Best Art Direction,
Best Supporting Actress, by Catherine Zeta-Jones.  She's
stunning.  Wow.  Best Art Direction, Costumes, Sound,
and Best Picture.  Wow again, it's a massacre.

"Road To Perdition," the most beautifully-shot movie I didn't
care for, (made by the same guys who made "American Beauty,"
which I also dislike), won for Best Cinematography, for the
classically beautiful, brilliant work of the late Conrad Hall.

Adrien Brody is Best Actor, in "The Pianist."
It was very moving, and that's getting difficult,
as there are so many holocaust movies out.

Chris Cooper gets Best Supporting Actor, in "Adaptation."
That must have been a tough job, if you've seen that movie.

Roman Polanski wins the Best Director award.  The presenter,
Harrison Ford, makes no explanation.  (What would he say,
"Roman would be here, but he's under a bottlecap in Paris,
hiding from the police?")

The Academy accepts the Award on Roman's behalf.  Martin
Scorsese starts a standing ovation.  That's big-hearted
Hollywood.  Forgive and forget, don't be judgemental,
let the artist's art stand on its own merit,
Roman Polanski.  Elia Kazan.

I'm stunned, it's unbelievable.
Eminem has an Oscar, Best Song.

From the movie "8 Mile," a movie about
Eminem's riveting life story.

The song won over songs from "Chicago,"
"Frida," "Gangs of New York," and
even "The Wild Thornberrys Movie."


"Lose Yourself" is the name of the song, and I feel like
telling that to Eminem, and the people who made "8 Mile."

It's the same shock I had years ago, when Prince got the
Oscar for "Purple Rain," but at least Prince had a melody,
back when melodies were required in songs.  Prince even
had lyrics.  I can't believe I'm getting all wistful
thinking of Prince, but Eminem's noise makes Prince
sound like Stevie Wonder.

Eminem has an Oscar.
What's next, earthquakes, floods, locusts, dogs and cats,
living together?  There are some amazingly unmusical people
voting, is all I can say.

I know Hollywood is worried this year, because recorded
music is being stolen at an incredible rate.  I think this
song will stop that.

This song won't be stolen, because it is too easy to duplicate
at home.  Just drop a spoon into the garbage disposal.
After three minutes, turn it off.

And on that note, so to speak, I'll head out.
Chasing Randy into the Governor's Ball is unlikely,
the way they've got things set up.  They seem to want to
keep the public out, imagine that.

I'd give it a go, but I haven't scoped the Kodak theatre
out enough, and I just got in here on chutzpah, really.
I'm still recovering from surgery, and well it's been a
long, full night.

I'm aware they really don't want me here, and that's
reason enough sometimes.  If I do as they say, I'll
never get anywhere.

I always come away from the Awards with a strange sense of
accomplishment, because they couldn't keep me out, and an
inexplicable sense of sadness.  It's all so fake, they're
all sooo shallow, but it's still fun to have been wading.

Occasionally, a friend will win.  All right!

I never let myself forget what it is, to attend the Oscars.
It's a job.
An acting job.

Better get home, there's a war on.
See you in Hollywood.

Best to you,

Sam Longoria

Make your movie
Sell your movie

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